Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Power List 2023: Information Technology

Spencer Baird
Jud Bowman
John Bradford
Robert Bruggeworth
Michael Capps
Chris Downie
David Evans

David Gardner
Jim Goodnight*
Timothy Humphrey
Deverre Lierman
Jesse Lipson
Robert Mallernee
David Morken

Jillian Munro
Pierre Naude
Todd Olson
Michael Praeger
Ryan Pratt
Brooks  Raiford
Amit Sharma


Jeff Shealy
Kamala Subramaniam
Tim Sweeney
Scot Wingo


CEO | SAS Institute

North Carolina’s best-known tech executive isn’t slowing down after 47 years of leading one of the state’s most consistently successful businesses. The Salisbury native, who turned 80 in January, continues to work toward an IPO for Cary-based SAS Institute in 2024. SAS has reported an annual profit every year since its inception in 1976.

Taking the company public, Goodnight has said, will better allow employees and  customers to share in the company’s success, while also attracting new talent. The data management, analytics and AI company employs more than 12,000 people and reported $3.2 billion in 2022 revenue.

Over his career, Goodnight and his wife Ann, have championed education. He has endowed several professorships at N.C. State University, where he earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics and worked as a professor from 1972 to 1976. Ann Goodnight has been an N.C. State trustee since 2015. 

In 1997, the Goodnights and SAS co-founders John and Ginger Sall opened Cary Academy, a college preparatory day school with grades six through 12.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: The Boone and Blowing Rock areas, as well as Wrightsville Beach. I always recommend visiting the N.C. Museum of Art, taking in an N.C. State basketball game at the PNC Arena or a football game at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Major inspiration: At the most basic level, we exist in order to help others. We’re here so that our customers are not alone in the battle to solve tough problems. Our purpose is to make analytics easy and friendly for them. We exist for all the folks who are working to make their corner of the world a better place —  whether that corner is a bank, a hospital, a store; or a nonprofit, or a university, or a government. Without us, their road would be harder.

Career highlight: I’m very proud of being a pioneer of workplace culture, based on my belief that if you treat employees like they make a difference they will make a difference.  A highlight for me was having SAS recognized as the top workplace in the U.S. by Fortune magazine, and as the top workplace in the world by the Great Place to Work Institute.

Best advice to industry newcomer: Recognize when to stop digging a hole. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and it’s OK to walk away. Let go of your pride or investment if a product or venture isn’t succeeding.

Key industry change in next five years: Disruption will continue to challenge us, but it will also help drive innovation. Advancements across areas like conversational AI, natural language processing, predictive modeling, and computer vision help organizations be prepared for whatever is next. 


CEO | Inmar Intelligence

He was named to the top post last September after getting the interim role earlier in 2022 following the retirement of David Mounts. The Virginia Wesleyan University graduate joined the company in 2020 after having leadership roles with food-industry companies including Dannon, Kellogg and Ahold.


CEO, founder | Sift Media

He formed his first company, Motricity, while attending the N.C. School of Math and Science, then later left Stanford University early to help the smartphone-app company grow to $100 million in annual revenue. Sift is the third startup for Bowman, 41. The company uses data from phone apps to help businesses target ads.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: A tie between the beach and the mountains. We love Bald Head Island, where my wife and I were married. We also love visiting Roaring Gap in the mountains.

What do you listen to on your commute: “Symphony Hall” on SiriusXM Channel 76

Career highlight: Selling my last company, Appia, to Digital Turbine in 2015.

Favorite hobby after work: Giving my two daughters, Edith and Graylyn, big hugs.


CEO | PetScreening

The Clemson engineering graduate is founder and CEO of two start-up companies. Park Avenue Properties is a residential management firm. PetScreening helps property owners develop pet policies. The Republican is in his fourth term in the N.C. House and is running for state treasurer.


president, CEO | Qorvo

The graduate of Wilkes University in Pennsylvania joined RF Micro Devices in 1999 and was CEO when it merged with TriQuint Semiconductor to form Qorvo in 2014. The business, which makes parts for mobile phones and other communications products, had $4.1 billion in revenue last year. He was named to the board of Fremont, California-based  data storage company Seagate Technology.

Favorite family tradition: We still hide Easter baskets for our two boys, ages 27 and 29, when they are home for the holiday.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: My dad in New Bern.

Major inspiration: Good friends and family, because they support us in good and bad times. We thank them! 

Career highlight: Moving to Hong Kong in 1995.

Favorite hobby after work: Enjoying a nice red wine.

Best advice to industry newcomer: Never stop learning; our industry continues to innovate.

Key industry change in next five years: The world will continue to be more wirelessly connected. But the good thing about our industry is that it’s hard to predict the future; you have to invent it!


CEO | Diveplane

A former top Epic Games executive, Capps started his artificial intelligence firm in 2018. His expertise leads to frequent appearances on Discovery, Military, and Science channels. The company raised $25 million last fall, including investments from soccer stars Mia Hamm and Megan Rapinoe. He has a doctorate from the Naval Postgraduate School.


CEO | Flexential Corp.

Downie, who has had his post since 2017, leads a datacenter and cloud computing company with more than 3 million square feet of space in 19 markets. He grew up in Paris and Barcelona and has a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth and an MBA from New York University.

Favorite family tradition: Vacations, exploring the world and meeting new people.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Asheville

What do you listen to on your commute: Classic rock on Pandora

Major inspiration: The New Zealand All Blacks, most dominant, consistently highly functioning team in the world. Rugby has a great ethos to inspire belonging.

Career highlight: Creation of Flexential in 2017 and driving its improving growth.

Favorite hobby after work: Relax and enjoy time with my family. My favorite hobby is cooking.

Best advice to industry newcomer: Check your ego at the door and focus on making good, logical business decisions. They lead to great results.

Key industry change in next five years: The criticality and increasingly limited availability of raw materials.


CEO | Passport

The former Cardlytics executive succeeded Bob Youakim as CEO at Passport in January 2021. The company, which has raised more than $200 million, provides transportation software mainly to cities. A Georgia native, Evans worked in investment banking at Wells Fargo and has degrees from Auburn and Emory universities.


founding partner | Cofounders Capital

The venture capital firm, led by Gardner and Managing Partner Tim McLoughlin, closed its third fund for $50 million earlier this year, following previous rounds of $31 million and $12 million. The self-described serial entrepreneur started his company to combat a lack of early stage capital. He has founded or co-founded a total of seven companies. 

Favorite family tradition: The last gifts at Christmas are dart guns and we spend the next hour shooting at each other in a battle royal. Been that way since I was a child.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Wilmington and Blowing Rock

What do you listen to on your commute: NPR or streaming book

Major inspiration: Steven Covey

Career highlight: I’ve had a lot of great exits from my own startups and portfolio companies and I’ve raised a lot of money for my investment funds and charities, but I feel like now is my career highlight.    

Favorite hobby after work: Since I’ve taken up the cello, it has become my cure for a hard day.  

Best advice to industry newcomer: Show up, listen and get to know smart people. Your network of advisers and business associates is by far your most valuable resource.

Key industry change in next five years: From scheduling a trip to driving us there, we are going to say what we want and our favorite AI will figure out how best to accomplish it. 


North Carolina senior state executive;
RTP senior site executive | IBM

Humphrey has worked for IBM or Lenovo since earning his electrical engineering degree at N.C. State University in 1996. He became IBM’s senior state executive in 2018. He is active in the OneTen project, which has a goal of hiring 1 million Black Americans in family-sustaining jobs.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Carolina Beach. I love Britts Donuts, and there’s nothing more relaxing than watching the ocean.

Major inspiration: My father, may he rest in peace. He always told me to “stay focused,” and that’s advice I follow every day.

Career highlight: Taking the role of RTP senior site executive and N.C. senior state executive following the retirement of my good friend and mentor Fran O’Sullivan. It’s an honor to work across all lines of the IBM business and represent our company externally.

Favorite hobby after work: Playing poker —it lets me practice critical thinking skills while spending time with friends and building relationships.


head of US delivery, Southeast region | Infosys

LIerman helped open the India-based information technology company’s Raleigh Technology and Innovation Hub in 2018. The Rutgers University graduate worked for IBM for 23 years, including as a digital commerce leader, before moving to Infosys.


CEO, founder | Levitate

Lipson continues to grow Levitate, which builds software products that help insurance, real estate and other companies stay in touch with their customers. Levitate has 3,000 customers and about 150 employees at its Raleigh office. The Duke University graduate sold ShareFile to Citrix in 2011.


CEO | Eton Solutions

Eton Solutions provides software to help ultra wealthy families manage home offices. The company raised $38 million in a 2022 fundraising round. Mallernee teaches a graduate-level course in wealth management at his alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill. He also has an MBA from the University of Chicago.


CEO, co-founder, chairman | Bandwidth

The Notre Dame law school graduate founded the communications software company in 1999 and took it public at $20 per share in 2017. It has grown rapidly with revenue of $573 million in 2022, a 17% annual increase. But shares have tumbled in the past two years on fears of slower growth. 


group head of data and analytics technology | Envestnet | Yodlee

After working for Fidelity and other large financial services companies for more than 25 years, Munro joined the Berwyn, Pennsylvania-based financial-data services company in 2020. She holds an accounting degree from Bucknell University and master’s in East Asian studies from George Washington University. She began her career as a telecommunications consultant.


CEO, chairman | nCino

A former S1 and Unisys executive, Naudé helped found the cloud-banking firm in 2012 and led the 2020 IPO that valued the company at $3 billion. While revenue gained 34% to $274 million in 2022, the company reported a net loss of $90 million over the past two years. The South African-born Naudé has a bachelor’s degree from Upper Iowa University.

Career highlight: When I see individuals at nCino do great things, I feel an incredible sense of pride in the company we’ve built. If you create a culture where people can thrive and grow, it doesn’t matter what educational or social background they have. The only thing that matters is what they can accomplish today, and how we as a company can give them the tools and support to succeed.

Favorite hobbies after work: Boating and golf

Best advice to industry newcomer: Famous management consultant Peter F. Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This idea is foundational to how we’ve built, grown and led our teams at nCino. A strong culture is critical to success, and nCino proves that.


co-founder, CEO | Pendo

In 2013, Olson launched Pendo, which uses analytics to help managers optimize software development. The company has 900 employees, a $2.6 billion valuation, and Olson says it may go public within a year. Olson’s plan to build a 30-acre family compound on Topsail Island awaits a zoning decision.


CEO, chairman, co-founder | AvidXchange

Started in 2000, the company has grown to more than 1,500 employees and 7,000 customers for its payments system software. It went public in 2021 and reported a net loss of $101 million on revenue of $316 million last year. Praeger has a finance degree from Georgetown University. 

Favorite family tradition: Spending the Fourth of July on Lake Norman with family and friends.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Lake Norman

Major inspiration: Seeing members of my team grow into leaders within AvidXchange. My teammates work hard, and seeing them achieve their goals and dreams is rewarding for me.

Career highlight: Building AvidXchange from a local software startup company in Charlotte to becoming a public company and becoming the industry leader in delivering accounts payable and payment automation to middle market companies and growing to be the largest software company in Charlotte.

Favorite hobby after work: Tennis, boating, watersports, including wake surfing and e-foiling.

Best advice to an industry newcomer: Work hard to understand the ecosystem of players within the industry and what their role is and then spend time building relationships and identifying ways that you can add value to these relationships.

Key industry change in next five years: Significant impact of efficiencies, cost savings and productivity increases through the use of technology to automate manual and paper-based processes. Reduction of paper checks and adoption of electronic payments will replace the traditional bill-payment process for business-to-business payments.


CEO, founder | Guerilla RF

After working for Qorva predecessor RF Micro Devices, the N.C. State University graduate founded the business in 2013 to make semiconductors for use in cameras, smartphones and other uses. Guerilla RF was listed at 81st on the Financial Times 2022 list of America’s fastest-growing companies ranked by revenue growth.

Favorite family tradition: Having the whole family over for Christmas dinner.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Wrightsville Beach

What do you listen to on your commute: Punk rock music on SiriusXM

Career highlight: Getting Guerrilla RF’s stock traded publicly. (GUER is ticker symbol.)

Best advice to industry newcomer: Put in the time to learn all of the different parts of the semiconductor business (sales, product development, marketing, operations, quality, etc.)


president, CEO | North Carolina Technology Association (NC TECH)

Raiford has led the tech industry advocacy group since 2008, helping focus the spotlight on one of the state’s most impactful sectors. The N.C. State University graduate previously worked for Balfour Beatty, Leadership NC and the state’s private-college trade association. He’s vice chair of Guilford College’s trustee board.

Favorite family tradition: Spending the July 4 holiday at Lake Junaluska near Asheville with extended family. 

Favorite N.C. place to visit: Crystal Coast  

What do you listen to on your commute: NPR

Major inspiration: My parents. Their ethics, energy, positivity, and unconditional love and support have shaped me and they continue to be role models for me.

Career highlight: Reaching my 15th anniversary as CEO of NC TECH, which is itself 30 years old this year, and seeing how far the organization has come.

Best advice to industry newcomer: Hard skills and soft skills are not mutually exclusive.  Develop them both early, and nurture them often. In your career; you’ll stand out among your peers and have greater opportunities.

Key industry change in next five years: The integration of artificial intelligence/machine learning in our work and personal activities.


CEO | CData Software
Chapel Hill

The data connectivity business led by the Duke MBA and master’s graduate of N.C. State University received $140 million in funding last year and earned a spot on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 list of rapidly growing companies. Sharma launched CData 13 years ago. Updata Partners of Washington, D.C., is a key investor. 


CEO | Akoustis Technologies

Another veteran of Qorvo predecessor RF Micro Devices, Shealy cofounded the chip manufacturer in 2013. Revenue more than doubled to $15.4 million in 2022, but startup costs have led to annual losses and a declining stock price in the past two years. He has master’s and doctoral degrees from UC Santa Barbara.  


engineering site lead | Google

Subramaniam left India and enrolled at N.C. State University for master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering. She landed jobs with Microsoft and other technology companies. She began her career with Google in 2016 and was picked to lead its engineering hub in Durham in 2021. 


founder, CEO | Epic Games

Fortnite, Epic’s mega-franchise, shows little signs
of cooling. The company reported 68 million
monthly active users in 2022, up from 62 million
a year earlier. Epic continues to challenge Apple
and Google in court over their app store policies.
The billionaire is one of the state’s largest private
landowners, mostly in conservation easements
that will preserve those lands in perpetuity. 


CEO | Spiffy

The veteran Triangle entrepreneur’s mobile vehicle-maintenance company raised $30 million in February to spur further growth as it adds franchisees in six new states. He also launched the Tweener Fund to support promising new Triangle businesses. He attended the University of South Carolina and N.C. State University.  

For 40 years, sharing the stories of North Carolina's dynamic business community.

Related Articles