Adam Klein, who has directed the American Underground startup hub since 2012, is taking on a bigger role with AU corporate parent Capitol Broadcasting. Replacing Klein at the AU is Durham entrepreneur Doug Speight.
CBC, which also is the parent of WRAL TechWire, WRAL and the American Tobacco Campus in Durham among other properties, made the announcement Thursday.
Klein will serve as director of strategy for CBC properties in Durham as well as Rocky Mount effective Jan. 1. He will “lead efforts to advance” the American Tobacco Campus as well as Rocky Mount Mills, an emerging mixed-use development. His previous title at AU was chief strategist.
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Speight becomes executive director of AU as of Nov. 13.
The AU has become one of the most widely recognized startup and entrepreneurial hubs in the U.S., service as home for 275 companies. That number nearly increased 10 fold under Klein’s guidance. The AU also is a partner with Internet Google’s entrepreneurial network.
“The Durham ecosystem has evolved at an incredibly rapid pace while championing key values such as diversity and inclusivity. This growth and commitment is a testament to the work of both Adam and Doug,” said Michael Goodmon, vice president of real estate for CBC.
“We look forward to the new heights Doug will reach with The American Underground and to Adam’s imaginative approach on an even wider scale.”
Klein joined the AU after serving as director of strategic initiatives at the Durham Chamber of Commerce.
“The entrepreneurs and team at The American Underground taught me that anything is possible, that creative, committed people can have a huge positive impact on their city and far beyond,” Klein said in the announcement. “I look forward to working with teams across CBC to develop and launch initiatives that create new legacies of innovation and community empowerment.”
Speight’s Durham connections
Speight is a very familiar face at the AU and in the Triangle entrepreneurial community. He served as entrepreneur in residence in 2016 for CODE2040, a nonprofit focusing on ways to help minority entrepreneurs. Speight also has operated his own startup.
“My family has owned and operated companies in Durham since the 1930s, and I’m honored and thrilled to be part of the community of entrepreneurs building the digital economy for the next century,” Speight said. “The American Underground’s vision of success has always been holistic, embracing both individual entrepreneurs and our wider community. I look forward to building on that tradition of collaboration and innovation, and am excited to support our entrepreneurs as they develop new ideas, build companies and create jobs.”