American Tobacco Acquires Big Top

Quest for tech talent, crucial to regional success, gets boost from merger, expansion of resources

Big Top at American Tobacco

Big Top 15 kicked off the second Moogfest in downtown Durham. 10 companies pitched or presented their companies at the event, which drew more than 400 attendees.

Job seekers and companies in urgent need of talent will now have a one stop shop to find and fill jobs as well as to find out the latest news and trends driving North Carolina’s innovation economy.

The American Underground—a Google for Entrepreneurs tech hub—has acquired Big Top, the umbrella brand for a career management platform founded in 2011 that includes a popular series of colorful career events and a robust online resource for jobs and talent recruitment.

ExitEvent, a statewide startup and tech-focused media company (owned by American Underground), will manage Big Top’s portfolio of services and expand its offerings, working closely with Big Top founder Chris Heivly.

All three parties share the same vision: in order for the region to effectively compete nationally and internationally, it must work harder and smarter to ensure that tech companies have ready access to top talent.

“Talent is Mission Critical”
“Big Top is a key part of our strategy to move the Triangle startup ecosystem to the next level. We know to get there, efficiently matching talent with fast growing startups is critical–and ensures founders know they will find the best talent for open roles. Talent is mission critical,” says Adam Klein, chief strategist, American Underground.

In addition to events, Big Top has accumulated a massive database of more than 4,000 local job seekers that they line up — via a proprietary digital job placement platform — to more than 80 companies in the Triangle. This service will become a part of ExitEvent’s digital offerings, but remain under the Big Top brand for the foreseeable future.

Keeping in mind that a more economically robust North Carolina is in everyone’s interest, the group has their eyes set on a footprint that eventually could be larger than the Triangle. ExitEvent has successfully hosted networking and topic-driven events in Greensboro, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Editor Laura Baverman foresees Big Top’s offerings eventually meeting needs in those markets and others, perhaps beyond North Carolina’s borders.

“Big Top is engaging, helpful and fun and fits so nicely into the suite of events we host to support the growth of startup communities,” says Baverman.

In addition to producing more Big Top events, ExitEvent will put compelling stories and information about growing companies in front of jobseekers.

“We’re excited to build up the collective ExitEvent-Big Top digital platform to serve even more individuals and companies,” adds Baverman, “and to add more storytelling around career opportunities.”

The Highlights: Big Top at Moogfest from ExitEvent on Vimeo.

“One Stop Shop”
Since its founding by Heivly, Big Top has earned a glowing reputation, in large part due to the creativity and energy of its events, many of which employ a circus concept. Big Top has so far hosted 15 events in the region. Heivly will remain involved in the evolution of Big Top’s portfolio.

“Talent and the acquisition of talent is one of the key pieces of what makes a thriving community and, to that end, we need the kind of products and services that help us and our companies acquire that talent as easily as possible,” says Heivly. “ExitEvent, Big Top and American Underground will provide a one stop shop for entrepreneurs and job seekers in our community to keep their operations running strong.”

The next Big Top is slated for July 6, 6-8 p.m. at The Frontier at Research Triangle Park. More information at

Thanks to ATC’s Laura Baverman for this capcom story & for these capcom photos.  Photo credits to Jonny Underwood & Brian Livingstone.

Find out more:
Check out the ExitEvent blogpost by Laura Baverman all about the big “get”: Big Top Gets Acquired…. By Us”

SLIDESHOW:  Pix from Moogfest event in May



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