Raleigh-Durham Roundup: Sapheon, Cree, Red Hat, & More

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

Here are this week’s headlines in North Carolina tech and biotech news:

—Covidien (NYSE: COV) added to its vascular treatments portfolio with the acquisition of Morrisville, NC medical device developer Sapheon. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal.

Ireland-based Covidien, which itself is in the process of being acquired by Medtronic (NYSE: MDT), says Sapheon’s investigational device for treating varicose veins would add another treatment to its own peripheral vascular portfolio. The device, called the VenaSeal System, uses a proprietary medical adhesive to close the saphenous vein. The minimally-invasive procedure can be done on an outpatient basis and provides an alternative to procedures using heat to burn and destroy varicose veins.

Sapheon last September filed the first portion of its FDA pre-market approval application for VenaSeal, a filing that followed a $19.8 million Series B round for the company. VenaSeal is already approved for use in Europe, Canada and Hong Kong.

—Cree (NASDAQ: CREE) is investing $83 million in Taiwan company Lextar Electronics Corporation (TAIEX: 3698) in a deal that will give the Durham, NC, LED lighting company an approximately 13 percent stake in Lextar. The deal also includes an agreement that calls for Lextar to supply LED chips to Cree.

The boards of directors of both companies have approved the deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter of Cree’s 2015 fiscal year, subject to approval from Lextar’s shareholders and the Taiwan Investment Committee, and other closing conditions.

—Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) is looking for a new chief technology officer.

Brian Stevens is stepping down as CTO, the Raleigh, NC, open source software company announced in a three-sentence press release. Stevens had worked at Red Hat since 2001 and was named CTO in 2005.

A Red Hat spokeswoman told the Raleigh News & Observer that Stevens is “leaving to pursue another opportunity,” without providing any additional details. Paul Cormier, currently Red Hat’s president of products and technologies, will step into the CTO role on an interim basis. According to Stevens’ resignation e-mail sent to CEO Jim Whitehurst and later filed with securities regulators, Stevens’ last day at Red Hat will be Sept. 5

—Startup Undercover Colors, which is developing a nail polish that would change colors if it comes in contact with date-rape drugs, found itself swept up in a media storm last week.

The color change is intended to warn women. Undercover Colors has yet to release its product but an upswell of media and social media awareness of its development drew support from opponents of sexual assault as well as condemnation from critics claiming the product won’t resolve the problem of rape.

The Raleigh company hasn’t explained exactly how its color-changing nail polish works but the company was formed at NC State University by four male students in the materials science & engineering department. The company recently secured an equity investment of $99,000, according to securities filings. So far, the students have declined all interview requests. In a Facebook post responding to the media attention, co-founder and CEO Tyler Confrey-Maloney says Undercover Colors is not the only one working to stop rape and it is taking one angle among many to combat the crime.