I’m Brian Gordon, tech reporter for The News & Observer, and this is Open Source, a weekly newsletter on business, labor and technology in North Carolina.
It’s not breaking news that the Triangle has experienced tremendous population growth, but some of the census data is still quite astonishing. Take the town of Morrisville, which sits between Durham and Raleigh.
In 1980, the town’s population was 251 people. Today, the town is estimated to have more than 32,000. That’s a 128-fold increase, and similar growth has occurred in Wake Forest, Fuquay-Varina, and other area towns:
This week, I visited a pair of massive sites developers are constructing on a single road in Morrisville. Town leaders believe the projects, each costing at least $1 billion, will bolster Morrisville’s burgeoning biotech scene. The community today already boasts global companies (Microsoft, Fujifilm) and unique diversity as an enclave for Indians and Indian-Americans who have brought new culture, expertise, food and sports to the area.
But back in 1980? Morrisville had one grocery store, one gas station and one restaurant, recalled Jack Wilson, 65, a retired office supply manager who still lives in his hometown.
“Everybody knew everybody up and down the street and knew everybody’s business,” Wilson said. “You couldn’t hide from any neighbor really.”
Instead of construction and business complexes, Morrisville was mostly woods. As recently as 1990, the town had no residents identify as Indian.
Now, Wilson estimates Morrisville “is probably one of the most diverse cities around now.”
p.s. — Here’s an aerial shot of the Spark Life Science construction site in Morrisville, taken by N&O photojournalist Ethan Hyman (from out a plane window!).
White hat hackers make a legal living
More NC companies are embracing “bug bounty programs” to beef up their cybersecurity.
This includes Triangle tech leaders like Epic Games and Pendo, which offer money for hackers to legally try to break into their respective networks to expose vulnerabilities.
Since opening its bug bounty program to the public in October 2021, Epic Games (based in Cary, creator of Fortnite) has paid out $3.16 million to more than 550 “white hat” hackers who’ve uncovered 1,240 valid issues. On average, each discovery earned hackers $500, though some were worth as much as $50,000.
“(Bug bounties) were controversial when (they) first came out,” said Ray Zeisz, senior director of the North Carolina State University Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. “There were people in the industry thinking, ‘Oh, my God, you’re crazy. You’re writing checks to the bad guys.’ But it’s not necessarily what’s happening.”
Short Stuff: Best NC companies to work for
- North Carolina companies landed at No. 28, No. 63, and No. 68 on this year’s Best Places to Work rankings from Fortune magazine. The top spot was retained by Cisco, which is one of the largest tech employers in the Triangle.
Here’s a hint for one Triangle company that made the top 100 best places to work:
- The Durham sports software company Teamworks Innovations closed a $65 million Series E funding round and acquired a startup that helps college athletic departments streamline their operations.
In other startup news, I visited the Durham offices of Coprata a few weeks ago to see how the company is creating smart toilets to analyze users’ digestive health. In certain tests, they’ll flush clumps of miso wrapped in condoms instead of actual excrement.
The company was started by researchers at Duke University’s Smart Toilet Lab, and Duke grad Chase Moyle (left) is CEO.
National Tech Happenings
Twitter Inc. is changing its name to X Corp. and will no longer incorporate in Delaware. Plenty of other companies still do. NPR has also quit the social media platform after Twitter labeled its account “state-affiliated media”
It now has NPR labeled “Government-funded Media,” and NPR encourages people to find them anyway but Twitter:
Amazon is joining Google and Microsoft in the generative AI space.
URL, html, world wide web? Gizmodo breaks down the actual meanings of the most ubiquitous internet acronyms.
Thanks for reading!
This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work.
This story was originally published April 13, 2023, 3:59 PM.