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SAS CEO Goodnight's political-religious joke gets laughs in Silicon Valley

When SAS co-founder and CEO Jim Goodnight visited Silicon Valley last month, he spoke to business leaders about serious matters, including increasing competition in the software market during the recession.

But he also warmed up the crowd with a slightly off-color joke involving Bill Clinton, the Pope and the Virgin Mary. You can read a version of the joke here, but Goodnight told it better, says Aaron Ricadela, the Business Week reporter who wrote about Goodnight's visit and SAS.

Some other highlights of the Business Week story:
-- Goodnight says that Cary-based SAS, founded in 1976, is worth $10 billion to $12 billion today.
-- But he's reluctant to sell the company, despite consolidation in the market for data-analysis software. He's been asked to sell by two major companies and said he would for $20 billion. But he doesn't want to see SAS workers get laid off in an acquisition.
-- He expects this year's sales will be unchanged from $2.26 billion in 2008. Goodnight warned of flat sales last month, but said SAS "might eke out a little growth" if the dollar weakens.
-- Recent deals by rivals such as IBM, SAP and Oracle aimed at attacking SAS' turf will keep them distracted, allowing SAS to continue winning new customers and selling more products, Goodnight said.

Read the full Business Week story here.

It's the second recent write-up on SAS by a national business publication. The New York Times wrote a major profile last month, with an online slideshow highlighting the company's famed headquarters campus in Cary.

RTP, SAS get attention from national business press

The national press is shining spotlights on challenges facing two icons of the Triangle business scene.

On Monday, Business Week wrote about the planned evolution of Research Triangle Park from an industrial park dominated by large companies to a mixed development with more shops and housing. And on Sunday, the New York Times wrote a meaty profile of SAS and the challenges the Cary-based software company faces.

The Business Week article, "Reimagining the Science Park in North Carolina,"  focuses mostly on Rick Weddle, CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation, which manages RTP, and his ideas for making the park feel livelier. That includes adding more amenities that cater to RTP workers.

"Over time, this will tip to where it's even more about the people," says Weddle, left, who has run the foundation for five years.

Quintiles investing in more experimental drugs, magazine reports

Quintiles Transnational is seeking more deals where it invests directly in promising experimental drugs nearing final stages of development.

Traditionally, Quintiles contracts with drug makers for a fee, but the Durham company's NovaQuest division is quickly becoming a major part of Quintiles' total business, Business Week reported.

Investing directly in new drugs represents more risk if the products stumble, but a much bigger potential payoff when they're successful. It's a strategy shift that comes as Quintiles' main contract-research business is seeing slower growth.

N.C.'s strongest housing markets

Five North Carolina metropolitan areas make Business Week magazine's new list of the nation's 30 strongest, and safest, housing markets.

Dominated by college and military towns, the magazine worked with data from to find the strongest markets based on the share of single-family homes in which values rose in the second quarter compared with the second quarter of 2008.

The list is mostly smaller, "slow-but-steady" metro areas where "housing bubbles never took shape" and where many homes continue to appreciate.

Fayetteville came in at No. 5, with Burlington at No. 9, Jacksonville at No. 12, Durham at No. 20 and Greensboro at No. 26.

Boulder, Colo., topped the list, bolstered by the University of Colorado, followed by Spartanburg, S.C.; New Orleans; and Binghamton, N.Y.

Find the full list here.

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