Salesforce Ventures’s John Somorjai warns N.C.’s politics could dampen its tech hub potential

TechCrunch | 10/22/2019 | Staff
iVchan (Posted by) Level 3
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North Carolina has been rising as an entrepreneurial hub. It’s now home to massive deals, like IBM buying Red Hat for $34 billion and Fortnite maker Epic Games raising a landmark $1.25 billion, both which helped to put the state — and the Triangle region, in particular — on the map. And now it’s just minted another unicorn with Pendo’s last fundraise. But its tech hub potential can still be threatened by the state’s political swings, said Salesforce Ventures head John Somorjai, who spoke today at a tech event in Durham.

On a panel at Bull City Venture Partners’ Entrepreneurs’ Series 2019, Somorjai reminded the audience that investment in the state follows the talent. And a state can’t attract talent when it’s not “welcoming to all people,” he said.

North - Carolina - History - Front

North Carolina has had a difficult history on this front, if you recall.

In 2016, PayPal canceled plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte after N.C. passed the controversial (“bathroom bill”) law that prevented cities from creating non-discrimination policies based on gender identity. The state lost 400 potential jobs, as a result. Over 100 other companies, including Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook, eBay, Uber, and others also asked the state to repeal the law after its passing.

NC - Law - Settlement - Summer - People

N.C. eventually revised the law, then reached a settlement this summer that allows transgender people to use certain bathrooms matching their gender identity. But in some cases, it was too late to woo the tech companies back.

Apple and Amazon have also been separately criticized, at times, for considering N.C. area investments because of the state’s anti-LGBTQ leanings.

Issue - Effect - State - Ability - Business

This issue now has a broad effect on the state’s ability to attract tech and business investment at a time when investors are often looking outside the Valley (and its obscene valuations) to find companies that are more focused on profitability.

Salesforce...
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