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Happy Tuesday!

Now that you’re done watching Jeff Bezos in space, take a minute and a half to ground yourself with GrepBeat’s The Week in 90 Seconds video recap.

For Starters

When you’re launching a startup, when should you lawyer up? If your answer is “after I get sued,” you’re on the wrong track—and you should definitely listen to Episode 6 of Robbie Allen’s For Starters podcast, which after all is sponsored by the Robinson Bradshaw law firm. Robbie talks with guests Glen Caplan of Robinson Bradshaw and the Bagchi Group’s Neil Bagchi on when, how and whether new businesses should engage with lawyers without breaking the bank. Read our episode recap here and then listen (and subscribe!) to the podcast here.


Light A Sparc

Since Jeff Bezos is in the news today, it’s a good time to recall that while his goal in launching Amazon was to create the online store for everything, it actually began with the far narrower use case of selling books. Laurel Djoukeng also has a big vision for his startup Sparc—to be a platform that empowers people to monetize their side hobbies and passions by sharing them (at a cost) with others. But Sparc, which he launched while an MBA student at Duke’s Fuqua School, is currently focusing on a smaller niche. It’s connecting undergraduates and grad students with employers, and enabling those students to monetize their smarts by tutoring high schoolers—with Sparc getting a cut.
Sparc is participating in this summer’s Melissa and Doug Accelerator at Duke. Read our full story on Sparc here.


Risk Managers

The clear consensus among scientists is that climate change is a major factor in the distressing increase in severe weather incidents around the globe, which have massive human and economic costs. It’s also a major factor in the growing success of the Durham-based startup The Climate Service, which we first profiled back in October 2019. The Climate Service helps companies assess the specific risks that climate change poses to their business. It recently closed on $500K of a planned $1.5M funding round, which is on top of the $3.8M it raised last April. TechWire has more details.


New Digs

Raleigh’s Bandwidth broke ground yesterday on its new $100M campus covering 40 acres on Edwards Mill Road. The plans include two five-story buildings with a combined 450K square feet of office space, a soccer field, basketball court, gym, walking trails, an amphitheater and a Montessori preschool. Bandwidth’s software for voice and text communication has seen a surge in demand during the pandemic, and the company has also been growing via acquisition, especially internationally. But CEO David Morken is doubling down on Bandwidth’s commitment to Raleigh with its new HQ—and doubling down on his belief that working in the office five days a week is the best way for his team to succeed. And hey, if you’re going to the office every day, it’s pretty nice to be able to shoot hoops at lunch without leaving the grounds. TechWire and the N&O have more details.


Rearview Mirror

While David Morken and Bandwidth are deepening their roots in the Triangle, former Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst is moving out. Actually, according to TBJ, he’s already moved out, selling his Durham home last month to head to Florida. Jim is stepping down from his position as President of IBM, which (of course) acquired Red Hat in 2019 for $34B. IBM actually released its earnings yesterday, and CEO Arvind Krishna went out of his way to laud Jim and also play up the continued role at Red Hat. TechWire and TBJ both have more on that earnings call, while TechWire reports that Krishna said in a separate CNBC interview that current Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier isn’t going anywhere.


Green Light

The Town of Cary is spending $2M to upgrade its traffic control system with IoT and “smart city” technology in a project that the town calls the first of its kind in the state. The project will use a cellular vehicle-to-everything network (C-V2X Network) that, among other things, will enable emergency vehicles to control traffic signals to arrive more quickly and for drivers to be warned that they’re approaching a school crossing at arrival or dismissal time. TechWire has a Q&A with RIoT Executive Director Tom Snyder about it, which is also a good excuse to mention that next Tuesday night in Raleigh, RIoT is hosting the RIoT Your Reality AR Challenge Final Pitch Event with $40K and a spot in the RIoT Accelerator Program on the line. (We’ll have much more on this event on Thursday.)


Big Deal

Vontier, a Raleigh-headquartered tech company that was spun-off last year from Pacific Northwest-based Fortive Corporation, is dropping $995M in cold, hard cash to acquire Ohio-based DRB Systems. Vontier focuses on transportation and mobility solutions, while DRB provides software and services to car washes. TechWire has more info.


Top Workplaces

Tech giant Cisco, which has one of its largest campuses in RTP, is No. 1 in two new best-place-to-work lists from Fortune magazine, both the overall 100 Best Companies To Work For and the Best Workplaces for Millennials. Red Hat is No. 27 on the first list but No. 5 on the second. SAS also made the top 100 on both lists, checking in at No. 86 and 82, respectively. See TechWire for more.


Bottled Up

If you’re looking for coworking space, you can always play it safe and glom on to a big chain like WeWork. And hey, they’re perfectly nice. But if you’re looking for something more local, gritty and—dare we say it—cool, then the soon-to-open Durham Bottling Company may be for you. Smashing Boxes CEO Nick Jordan bought the space at 506 Ramseur Street a few years back as a new company HQ but always had grander plans for the 16,000+ square feet. Enter Durham Bottling Company (DBC), which might sound like a new nightlife concept but is in fact a coworking and event space with a stated mission to create a more inclusive and diverse community. DBC offers all the usual amenities you’d expect (free coffee, hot desks, private offices, etc.) but also has a sister nonprofit entity that will help stage a monthly event series. You can get on the waitlist here.


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