RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Sam Whitt, chief administrative officer with MediaSpan since its creation two years ago, is leaving the firm to go back to practicing law and also to become a venture capitalist.

Whitt tells Local tech Wire he is rejoining the Sanford Holshouser firm in Raleigh effective May 1. He also is now a full partner in Southern Capitol Ventures, a startup venture firm focused on early stage companies. He has been assisting Southern Capitol in recent months as an advisor.

So why change now?

“I like the energy around people who are associated with startups,” says Whitt when asked why he’s making the moves. “I enjoy seeing new technology, particularly in this area, that can affect people’s lives.”

Whitt also says he fully understands the challenges facing both startups and investors these days.

“We are in the natural consequences of an overheated market,” he says. “I personally think this area will always produce entrepreneurs. In some cases, it’s more difficult than others. But all these create opportunities.”

At Sanford Holshouser, which is named after former North Carolina governors Terry Sanford and Jim Holshouser. Whitt will focus on helping entrepreneurs and startup businesses. He joined the firm in 1997 then left to become part of the original MediaSpan management team, which was built around and later incorporated a variety of “dot com” firms hit badly by the economic downturn.

“The company is at the place now where it is in solid shape,” Whitt says, “and this opportunity allows me to get back into the startup phase, which is what I enjoy.”

In a statement, Ernie Pearson, partner at the firm, says Whitt’s return bolsters its efforts in the entrepreneurial field.

“We are very excited to have Sam expand his role with the firm,” Pearson said. “Sam is well respected in this market and has been very active in RTP’s entrepreneurial community. He will be an immediate asset to our firm and will help us better position Sanford Holshouser firm with local entrepreneurs and business leaders.”

Whitt says he is leaving MediaSpan on good terms and retains an ownership interest in the firm.

At Southern Capitol, Whitt becomes a partner along with Ben Brooks, Dave Murray and Jason Caplain. Southern Capitol has made investments in a number of companies, including ChannelAdvisor, FullSeven technologies and Batanga.

“I believe I an offer unique insights to the capital side, and then there is the legal representation and assistance I can provide to startups,” Whitt says. “I’ve been involved in the entrepreneurial side for several years now. I can’t bring capital to every company, but I can provide some experience and help mitigate the risk.
“With startups, risk is the downside.”

Whitt grew up in Vienna, VA, graduated from George Mason Law School in 1991 and moved to Raleigh to join the Manning, Fulton & Skinner firm before moving over to Sanford Holshouser.

Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.