MORRISVILLE, NC — Anyone showing up at “The Tech Exec” on Thursday night would have thought they had warped back in time to the “dot com” boom days.
They would never have known that the United States is at war in Iraq, the stock market is still in the tank, and tech jobs are harder to find than a performance bonus.
Maybe we are on the “tipping point” of some fires being re-ignited in tech.
With the help of the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce, which opened its tech-laden, spacious new headquarters for the event, LTW and partner ClearImage PR invited tech executives from around the Triangle to network for a couple of hours.
One of the ideas behind the event was to try to regenerate some of the enthusiasm that was such a part of the go-go days. It’s easy to lament bad news and decry lost fortunes. It’s harder to get excited, to take risks, to start making deals, and to share a joke, laugh, and talk of better days to come.
That, my friends, is what the scores of people did starting before the event was supposed to open (5:30 PM) and continuing long after the doors were supposed to close (7:30 PM). At one time there were 200 or so people crowded in the office space with some arriving early, some getting there late, and many staying well past dark.
Food and drink were plentiful, the crowd ranged from big to huge, and enthusiasm was in abundance in just about every conversation I had or happened to overhear.
Several people braved chilly, wet weather on a brick patio to talk possible deals. Most stayed inside. But there was no doubting the executives from a wide range of firms were introducing themselves, getting reacquainted and talking about an economy that has to turnaround at some point.
Just some samples:
Tim Tompkins showed up and talked about his new position as head of business development for Grant Thornton. Tompkins helped the Council for Entrepreneurial Development raised $4.5 million in cash and in-kind contributions for its “Innovation to Impact” campaign.
Steve Rao, who just relocated with GurukulOnline’s e-learning team to RTP from the West Coast, eagerly introduced himself and his company.
Dave Jones, who runs Peak 10, hinted at some major deals his company is about to announce.
The data and network services hosting business has grown quite competitive in the RTP market. Peak 10, Springboard Managed Hosting and Inflow all had representatives at the event, and all said business is strong.
Peak 10’s vice president and general manager in RTP, Ben Griffith, sprinted over to the event after a CED panel discussion.
Craig Stone, chief executive officer of HireNetworks, has a growing concern on his hands — so much so the firm has moved into new, bigger space in Cary’s Regency Park.
Bruce Woodry, chairman and CEO of Sigma Capital Group, an investment banking firm, says he will have major deals to announce very soon.
Joe Owens of CMG Partners recently relocated from Silicon Valley to join the Chapel Hill firm and is driving local business. CMG is run by UNC graduates and has offices in Boston, Washington and Chapel Hill. They are making a drive for more North Carolina clients — and are landing them.
Ronnie Duncan was talking about his new business, Timelytext — a technical and training content writing firm.
Donna Sorenson, one of the top executives at the late Zoom Culture, certainly has landed on her feet with her own firm, MarketThis! Inc.
Paul Wilder of TransLogic Systems, a custom software developer in Apex, said business is so good that the company recently hired more staff.
And Randall Gregg, former editor of Triangle Tech Journal, was bringing people up to date on his new TV venture, RTPTV. He was still blushing from the positive feature story given him and his startup by The News & Observer on Wednesday.
One company about ready to break loose with a flurry of deals and customers is WindChannel Communications. High-speed wireless is a hot field right now, and WindChannel’s point-to-point service is getting traction fast, says chairman and chief executive officer Randy Choplin.
Barry Beith, president of HumanCentric technologies, and Dana Dorroh, director of business development, were introducing their new executive, Joseph Jasinski, formerly president of Think Design, which last week merged with HumanCentric.
Several companies even said they were hiring people.
Hey, better days are here again.
(Note: Tech Exec was sponsored by the Morrisville Chamber, SAS, Peak 10, Wind Channel and Insignia MetaPartners.)
Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.