DURHAM – The Triangle’s tech community has certainly notched some big wins of late.

Homegrown firms like Dude Solutions and ArchiveSocial got acquired — the latter for a whopping $53 million – in May. Then Prometheus Group and, more recently, Pendo, announced they’d hit the $1 billion valuation mark, bringing the region’s total number of “unicorns” to five. Others include Cary-based Epic Games, Charlotte’s AvidXchange and Wilmington-based nCino.

Still, despite these successes, Salesforce Ventures’s executive vice president of Corporate Development John Somorjai on Tuesday warned the region’s burgeoning tech scene could still be held back if leaders don’t remain “vigilant” about North Carolina’s political swings.

“Before the last election, there was an environment here that wasn’t really welcoming to all people,” he said as part of a “fireside” discussion held in conjunction with the Bull City Venture Partners’ Entrepreneurs Series.

Without mentioning it by name, it was clear that Somorjai was referring to the state’s controversial House Bill 2, a statute passed in March 2016 and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory. The bill, which has since been partially repealed, barred people from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

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After the bill’s passing, PayPal quashed plans for its global operations center in Charlotte, costing the city 400 potential jobs. Amazon and Apple, also considering projects in the state at that time, criticized the bill. Eventually, both firms selected other states for their second headquarters.

Equality or no deals

“One of our core values is equality, and there’s really sound business sense behind that,” Somorjai told the 700-strong crowd gathered in the main hall of Durham’s Carolina Theatre.

“If you’re in an area with a lot of discriminatory policies, investment dollars won’t go. That was a challenge before the last election. It’s important in the technology community, and leaders in this area, be vigilant about it because if you’re complacent, it can happen again. Something to keep in mind for the next election, for sure.”

To which Bull City Venture Partners co-founder Jason Caplain responded: “Good advice.”

It carries even more weight considering that Salesforce made 75 percent of its investments outside of California last year, he said.

That includes investments in Pendo and nCino. Salesforce also acquired Charlotte-based MapAnything for an undisclosed sum in April.

“We’ve done 15 investments in this region,” he said.

“If it’s an innovative company that customers will like, or already do, it doesn’t matter where they are located.”

He added: “In many ways, you can find better companies that are more focused on profitability outside of the Bay area. We’re very open to investing wherever good companies are. You need be in a location where you can attract and retain talent. That’s always the critical thing.”