The latest Friday Nooner dove deep on Google’s announcement that it will establish a Google Cloud engineering hub in Durham, plus we welcomed CED’s Jay Bigelow to preview CED’s Venture Connect summit, which kicks off today and goes through Thursday.
Also: March Mugness steams ahead! Vote now in the Elite Eight (the polls will be open until tomorrow at 5pmET) to decide who will advance to the Final Four, and read a breakdown of the matchups plus breathless recaps of the Sweet 16—from a former sportswriter so well-known he has his own Wikipedia page—here. And there’s plenty more March Mugness info down below.
Even in virtual form—and “virtual” is the best any of us can do for a little while longer—CED’s Venture Connect summit is one of the highlights of the Triangle tech startup calendar. You can still register now (for $300), and remember since it’s a virtual platform, you can catch up on any sessions that you miss on your own schedule.
One major highlight of Venture Connect is that you can reach out directly to any of the presenting startups that catch your eye. We’re here to help your scouting report with this collection of the 34 feature stories that we’ve written on Triangle-based tech startups that will be presenting. That's a lotta content! And here is our preview of the event in general, as well as one from TechWire. I wish I could say that you should swing by the GrepBeat table and say hi, but that will have to wait until 2022.
Bull City Venture Partners Co-Founder David Jones is the subject of the latest edition of Brooks Malone’s The Download. I can say with certainty that one part of David’s answer to the famed “What is in your pockets?” question will pique the interest of GrepBeat Godfather Joe Colopy: it turns out DJ keeps a pocket knife in one of his front pockets. Hey, I guess former Navy aviators always want to be prepared. Though it could also come in handy if term sheet negotiations get heated. Read the full Q&A here.
Naturally, folks are still buzzing about Google’s announcement last week that it will establish a Google Cloud engineering hub in the Bull City that over time could mean up to 1,000 jobs. The move comes with pros (it helps cement the Triangle’s rep as a rising tech hub, it shines a spotlight on the region, it will help attract even more talent, etc.) and potential cons (it could make an already tight market for engineering talent even tighter in a way that could squeeze smaller players, increasing pressures on gentrification and crowding, etc.). IMO the prevailing consensus is that the pros outweigh the cons, as well as the belief that while this indeed ranks as significant news, it’s not as impactful as homegrown startups like Pendo growing rapidly right here at home.
Speaking of homegrown startups getting huge, Cary’s Epic Games is reportedly raising another $1B in capital at a valuation of $28B. Yes, $28 BILLION DOLLARS. That’s a lot. It would also be more than $10B higher than the reported $17.3B valuation from seven months ago when Epic raised $1.78B. Obviously the pandemic and the resulting staying-at-home has only helped the popularity of Fortnite and the gaming industry in general.
On The Edge
Raleigh-based edge computing startup EDJX will be part of a major public infrastructure project intending to built smart cities. (Yay!) The project will be launched in Austin. (Boo!) The Austin-based Autonomy Institute, a cooperative research consortium focused on advancing autonomy (think autonomous vehicles) and AI, will launch the Public Infrastructure Network Node (PINN) Pilot in Austin, where the Institute is based.
Raleigh (yay again!) is on the list of the next group of cities who are exploring the PINN infrastructure, along with Denver, Dallas and Pittsburgh. Edge computing is especially well-suited to meet the challenges of the advanced sensors and rapid computation that a smart city would demand. TechWire has more details.
Chapel Hill-based Morgan Creek Capital Management is putting together a new, $11.8M investment vehicle to target consumer-facing companies. The move comes shortly after one of Morgan Creek’s earlier investments, Korea-based e-commerce company Coupang—dubbed the Amazon of Korea—broke records by raising $4.5B+ in its March 11 IPO. TBJ has more info.
Do you ever have that nightmare in which you show up in public but aren’t fully dressed? Well, Wes Harper, the Co-Founder of Cary-based IT company Lightwire, voluntarily signs up to do that on national TV. On Sunday night, the Discovery Channel aired Wes’s third appearance on Naked and Afraid. This latest stint was filmed about a year ago in Ecuador, just as the pandemic was starting. TBJ has the full, naked truth.
NC IDEA continues to offer its $5K ENGAGE grants to organizations and advocates supporting entrepreneurs. See a list of past grant-winners here. Grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis. TechWire has more details.
Make It Legal
Hutchison is a boutique law firm that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit and steers technology and life sciences entrepreneurs to success through all stages of their company’s life. Hutchison partners with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial-minded organizations to enable business solutions that make the law work for them, and advises angel investors and venture capital firms to support their investment selections to maximize their potential for success. Hutchison takes the time to learn your business and understand what’s behind the deal.