We’re No. 2! We’re No. 2! That is, the Triangle (OK, they called it “Raleigh-Durham”) has been named by U.S. News as the No. 2 Best Place to Live in the U.S. We trail only Boulder, Colo., and rank three slots ahead of our archrival, Austin.
Secondly (or should I say “No. 2”?), if you were out on vacation last week like I was, you should take a minute and a half to catch up on what you missed on GrepBeat with Jackie Sizing’s The Week in 90 Seconds.
Yesterday’s big local tech news was spurred by a national publication: the Wall Street Journal cited people “familiar with the matter” as saying that California-based Broadcom has been in talks to acquire Cary’s SAS Institute in a deal that would value SAS in the range of $15-$20B. SAS, of course, is one of the Triangle’s biggest home-grown tech success stories and the data analytics firm is still closely held by CEO Jim Goodnight and his co-founder John Sall. Jim has developed a well-earned reputation for being loath to establish (or at least stick to) a succession plan and let go of control. In that context, selling the company outright would seem surprising, but who knows what kind of non-financial terms he could drive.
Of course, lots of people besides Jim have their own thoughts on what he and SAS should do. TechWire’s Rick Smith argues Jim should sell to Microsoft, while TBJ’s Sougata Mukherjeeposits that SAS and/or Broadcom should grab former Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, who recently announced he is leaving IBM, to run the potential combined company. All righty, then. Here’s some more coverage from TechWire and TBJ.
Enough about rumors and speculation—let’s talk about an actual, hot-off-the-presses acquisition. Raleigh-based EmployUs, led by North Carolina School of Science & Math and NC State grad Ryan O’Donnell, has been acquired by Chicago-based Hireology. EmployUs software helps companies hire better candidates by seeking referrals from their own employees. Hireology is a leading recruitment CRM of multi-location, decentralized enterprises, which have become an even bigger market during the pandemic.
We’d like to congratulate Ryan on the successful exit and, perhaps more importantly, for timing the news to fit our newsletter publication schedule. Our sources also say that GrepBeat Godfather Joe Colopy is an EmployUs angel investor, so we can only hope that he springs for lunch this Thursday for the GrepBeat Lunch Bunch.
Our attention span has grown so addled in our now-now-now tech world that if a website takes two extra seconds to load, 90% of web visitors leave the site completely. Two seconds! While that may or may not be a sad statement on our present human condition, it can be a painful fact of life for many small businesses that can miss out on potential sales.
That’s where Raleigh-based Padeo, a startup founded by 2020 NC State grads Camden Conekin and Ben Hardison, comes in. Padeo offers a website plugin that decreases page-loading times using a predictive model to determine what website assets to pre-load, at a price (starting at free) that small businesses can afford. Read our full story on Padeo here.
Our second GrepBeat.com feature story today is on Duke medical school student Jasmine Chigbu and MTM (it stands for Minorities to Majorities), which is a curated and searchable scholarship database designed specifically for BIPOC students. MTM is participating in Duke’s Melissa & Doug Summer Accelerator. Jasmine developed the idea for MTM in 2015 when, as a recent Duke grad, she undertook a laborious but ultimately successful search for grants to go to grad school. First she put together an Excel spreadsheet that she shared with friends and fellow students, which evolved into MTM. The startup began a pilot with NC Central in January, with promising results.
Raleigh-based insightsoftware has zoomed into Unicorn Land—though it had likely unofficially arrived some time ago—after a whopping $800M investment by European-based investment firm Hg that reportedly valued the financial services software company at around $4B. Readers of this space will likely recall that PE-backed insightsoftware, which was formed by TA Associates in 2018 as the roll-up of two software acquisitions, has been on an acquisition spree of late. Now led by former Relias CEO Jim Triandiflou, insightsoftware has bought 18 companies over the past three years. Its war chest has just become even bigger. TechWire has more details.
Enough about insightsoftware—let’s talk about Raleigh-based InsightFinder, which was founded by NC State computer science professor Helen Gu and uses AI to help predict and prevent IT outages. (We profiled InsightFinder in January.) InsightFinder has raised $2M from a group of primarily West Coast investors. Durham’s IDEA Fund Partners is an early investor. TechWire has more info.
Meanwhile another startup that we’ve profiled—we wrote about Chapel Hill-based Keepsake Tales last August—has received a $50K investment from The Launch Place, which is based in Danville, Va., and RTP. Keepsake Tales is a platform for personalized children’s books.
New Google Digs?
TBJ is reporting that Google is eyeing the upcoming expansion of Durham’s American Tobacco Campus for the permanent home of its Google Cloud engineering hub, which could ultimately bring up to 1,000 jobs to the Triangle. Google is already setting up temporary shop in the Durham ID building. The ATC expansion would be on the former site of University Ford, which Capitol Broadcasting Company bought in 2016 for $28.8M.
Last week, Google named NC State grad and six-year Google employee Kamala Subramaniam as its Site Lead for the Bull City Hub. Yesterday’s TechWire featured a Q&A with Kamala in which she said that they “can’t hire fast enough.”
Two news nuggets out of Raleigh’s Bandwidth: 1) The company has tabbed Daryl Raadford to replace its longtime CFO, Jeff Hoffman, who is leaving the company on Aug. 31. Daryl has worked at multiple tech companies including Ribbon Communications and Hewlett-Packard. 2) Bandwidth is part of the first group of 10 on TBJ’s list of the Triangle’s Best Places To Work. TBJ will be unveiling a new batch of 10 every day this week.
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.
Morrisville-based ChannelAdvisor recently donated several pallets of computer equipment to the Kramden Insititute, a Durham-based nonprofit committed to closing the digital divide in our state. The donation included 59 laptops, 12 desktop computers and 62 monitors.