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Happy Tuesday!

Register now for the next GrepBeat Happy Hour, which is next Thursday, April 21, at Bull McCabe’s in Durham. Your first round will be courtesy of our sponsor, real estate kingpins Davis Moore Advisors. You can also find our Happy Hour on the schedule of the inaugural Raleigh-Durham Startup Week, which will be held next Tuesday-Friday (April 19-22) at various Durham locations. We’ll be talking more about Startup Week on Thursday, and we’re excited to be hosting its attendees at Bull McCabe’s. Please register for the happy hour now!
 
ICYMI: The latest Friday Nooner featured guest Scot Wingo, the Spiffy Czar and Tweener Titan. BTW, did you know that Scot will be leading a panel at Grep-a-palooza, our full-day conference focusing on early stage tech startups in the Triangle? Grep-a-palooza will be held on Thursday, June 9, at the Durham Convention Center. Lock in early-bird rates through April 30 of $99 for members of startup teams and $199 for everyone else.
 


Epic Raise

Cary’s Epic Games has raised another $2B—$1B each from existing investor Sony and KIRKBI, the holding and investment company behind the LEGO Group. The investment values Epic at a whopping $31.5B, which almost certainly makes the gaming startup the most valuable standalone tech company HQ’d in the Triangle. (With Red Hat a part of IBM after its $34B acquisition in 2019, the other main contender for the title would be Cary’s SAS Institute, which was rumored to be a potential takeover target last year by Broadcom for a reported $15-$20B.) This $2B is on top of the $1B that Epic raised in 2021 and the $1.78B it banked in 2020, though it’s likely that some of this raise will allow employees to cash in shares.
 
Epic has been making a very public bet on the metaverse, where it is already a major player with its massive game Fortnite as well as its game development platform Unreal Engine. It’s clear that some very deep-pocketed companies and investors want to put their money behind that bet. You can see TechWire and TBJ for more.


 


Tech Culture Club

We’re back today with Episode 2 of GrepBeat’s Tech Culture Club podcast, sponsored by Vaco. This week, host Melissa Phillippi (WorkDove’s CEO) sits down with Natalie Kesler, the HR Director for Durham-based ProcessMaker. They focus on the many ways that the pandemic has reshaped today’s work environment for tech companies, especially on expectations and policies for remote work and PTO. Read some show highlights here, then listen—and subscribe!—to the episode here.


 


UPWARD RTP

It won’t be news to our women readers that the glass ceiling is (unfortunately) still a thing. That even in a tech community that likes to think of itself as a straight meritocracy, the “merit” of those who look like the vast majority of the leaders and gatekeepers will likely be recognized sooner. But this is news: a group of women are gathering in Raleigh on Wednesday, April 27, to do something about it. The free event is to launch an RTP chapter of UPWARD, a global network with the goal of accelerating the advancement of executive women. UPWARD’s founder Lisa Lambert, a longtime VC exec, will speak at the event. Read our full story on the new UPWARD RTP chapter here, and you can register for the event here.


 


GB On Campus

While some of us at GrepBeat are further removed from our school days than others—Pete lists his Class Year as “No Comment”—we always make it a point to stay close to the Triangle’s great universities. We have two more GrepBeat stories to underscore that point. First, we report on UNC and NC State being two of four universities to share a $7.5M grant from the Department of Defense for research on organic semiconductors. The reason that the DOD is so interested is that organic semiconductors can be charged by lightweight organic plastic solar cells, meaning that military vehicles (like planes) and soldiers themselves don’t have to lug around heavy batteries to power their electronics—and pretty much everything is electronic these days. Read our full story here.
 
Second, on Friday we covered a virtual pitch event for Black founders that was jointly sponsored by Duke and NC Central. The startups competed for $60K in prizes. Read our full story here.


 


Venture Connect

We’re still feeling the afterglow from last Thursday’s Venture Connect summit, which was a throwback to a seemingly long-ago age when people gathered at events in person to (gasp!) talk to each other. If you couldn’t make it—or want to relive some of the highlights—read our event recap here; or TechWire’s; or this from Triangle Inno.
 
Though I didn’t bump into Global Data Consortium’s Bill Spruill on Thursday, I did talk to several people who had. Of course, Bill and his Co-Founder Charles Gaddy were Men of the Hour after GDC was acquired last week by the UK-based London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). The purchase price hasn’t been released, but we’re confident that it’s in the several hundred million dollars. Spoiler: Bill is this week’s guest on The Friday Nooner, and TFN co-host Chantal Allam had a great Q&A with Bill and Charles in yesterday’s TechWire..


 


What About Bob?

Bob Young is still best known in the Triangle tech scene as one of the two co-founders of Red Hat (along with Mark Ewing), and Bob led Red Hat as CEO through its successful IPO in 1999. But he’s actually been the CEO of self-publishing platform Lulu.com for more than four times as long—for 20 years now. Starting out as a side hustle for Bob, Lulu marked its 20th anniversary by rolling out a new ecommerce solution for authors: Lulu Direct. Our busy friend Chantal has the full story for TechWire, including a Q&A with Bob.


 


Startup Showcase

NC TECH has selected the six early-stage startups that will compete in this year’s Startup Showcase at the State of Technology Conference on May 12 at the Raleigh Convention Center. Two of them are from the Triangle: Raleigh-based software testing platform MuukTest, which we first wrote about in 2019 and also presented at last week’s Venture Connect; and Cary-based MapRecruit, which uses AI and ML to power a recruiting platform.


 


High Heels

More from the on-campus files, both from UNC: 1) UNC-Chapel Hill innovation hub gets green light, speeds economic development downtown (Innovate Carolina; 2) Another follow-up, this time from TBJ, on the space flight of UNC entrepreneurship professor Jim Kitchen.


 


Build Great Software

Founded by serial entrepreneurs, Dualboot is a business and software development company. Their clients include tech and non-tech founders as well as Fortune 500 companies, so they can start small or scale fast depending on what you need. Every client is assigned a U.S.-based Product Director with at least 10 years experience bringing products to market, and they can manage the entire development process. They focus on how the software fits into your company to drive revenue and build the business. At Dualboot, they don’t just write your software—they help you grow your business. Intrigued? Email them here.


 

Extra Bit

This week’s TBJ cover story is a deep dive on Pendo CEO Todd Olson. Fun fact not mentioned in this otherwise very detailed story: Todd will be a keynote speaker at our Grep-a-palooza on June 9. Don’t miss it!

 

Because too much news is never enough.

 

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