The NC Triangle briefly had another $1 trillion tech company

Open Source

Open Source

I’m Brian Gordon, reporter for The News & Observer, and this is Open Source, a weekly newsletter discussing business, labor and technology in North Carolina.

You can count the number of U.S. companies worth more than $1 trillion on one hand. It’s Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple. The last three each have corporate footprints in the Triangle.

And for a brief moment Tuesday, a lesser-known company with an office in Durham breached the $1 trillion mark.

Nvidia makes processing chips that are key to popular generative AI platforms like Midjourney and ChatGPT. As demand for these platforms has swelled in recent months, so too has Nvidia’s value on Wall Street.

Since Jan. 1, the company’s stock has been on a tear, with a favorable earnings report last week sending its share price into the stratosphere. The company’s value has receded somewhat since hitting 13-digits, and it ended Thursday worth a measly $982 billion.

Nvidia corporate offices on Meridian Parkway in Durham.
Nvidia corporate offices on Meridian Parkway in Durham. Brian Gordon

Nvidia is headquartered in California but has one of its 22 U.S. offices in South Durham, near Research Triangle Park.

“The Raleigh-Durham area is an important locale for our company for new innovation and a source of talent,” said Nvidia spokesperson Liz Archibald in an email to The News & Observer.

And as many tech giants scale back staff, Nvidia is hiring in Durham.

By the numbers: Toyota’s massive NC battery plant

This week, Toyota unveiled big news for its future lithium-ion battery plant near Greensboro. Here are six numbers to know:

$2.1 billion. How much the carmaker increased its investment in the site. The money will go to future expansion goals.

$5.9 billion. The total amount Toyota has pledged for the facility, making it the largest private economic project to receive state incentives in North Carolina history.

2025. The year Toyota expects the plant will begin producing batteries to power its hybrid and electric vehicles.

2,100. The number of people Toyota aims to hire at the facility.

$439 million. The payroll tax break Toyota will receive from North Carolina if the company meets its minimum investment and job creation targets by 2029.

20 miles. The distance between the Toyota plant (in the small town of Liberty) and Greensboro .

Toyota North Carolina construction progress at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite as of May 15.
Toyota North Carolina construction progress at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite as of May 15. Courtesy of Toyota North Carolina

A catastrophic vision of A.I.

What risks does artificial intelligence pose humanity? Plenty, say a pair of professors at Duke University.

Historian John Jeffries Martin and biomedical engineer Marc Sommer were among more than 400 academics, executives and engineers to sign an open letter that compared the threats of A.I. to the ramifications of pandemic and nuclear war.

“It sounds like science fiction, but it is something to be concerned about,” said Sommer, who studies cognition circuits in the human brain.

Both professors urge governments to step in and regulate the emerging tech before irreversible damage occurs.

Short Stuff: Wolfspeed wants a key tax credit

  • The Durham-based semiconductor manufacturer Wolfspeed expects federal money from the CHIPS Act to help pay for its planned $5 billion plant in Chatham County. But some wonky U.S. Treasury rules could mean the company will lose out on a lucrative tax credit.
  • The fintech startup APPROVE says it’ll add 50 new jobs to the coastal North Carolina city of Wilmington after raising $3 million in a Series A funding round. The round was supported by Cary-based Cofounders Capital.
  • The Raleigh startup ImpactKarma is now officially a Certified B Corporation.

What does that mean? A Certified B Corporation is a for-profit company that meets certain social and environmental performance standards set out by the nonprofit B Lab.

ImpactKarma helps connect customers with companies that promote similar environmental and social ideals.

Inside Wolfspeed’s corporate headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
Inside Wolfspeed’s corporate headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Brian Gordon [email protected]

National Tech Happenings:

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, says it’ll block news articles on its platforms in California if state lawmakers pass a bill that would direct money away from Meta and toward media outlets. As a local journalist, I like the sound of more dollars going to media organizations.

Could the next Mona Lisa be created by AI? More visual artists are embracing the emerging tech, Bloomberg writes.

Congress is threatening to block funding for a new U.S. Space Command headquarters. The reason? Abortion politics.

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.

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This story was originally published June 2, 2023, 8:50 AM.

Brian Gordon is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He writes about jobs, start-ups and all the big tech things transforming the Triangle.