Ray August (copy)

Shares of Benefitfocus Inc. climbed almost 71 percent in 2018, more than any other South Carolina-based public company. File/Staff/Brad Nettles

Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs is unloading nearly half of its remaining shares in Benefitfocus Inc. as it gradually unwinds a stake that once accounted for nearly half the Daniel Island software firm.

Goldman's interest in Benefitfocus, one of Charleston's largest technology companies, has dwindled in the four-and-a-half years since it went public. After the latest sale, which was expected to close last Thursday, it owns just over a tenth of the company.

In 2014, the investment bank owned about 45 percent of the business, which makes software that workers use to manage their employer benefits.

Goldman picked an opportune time to take some chips off the table. Shares of Benefitfocus have rallied over the last two months after hovering near historically low levels. Goldman's sale locks in the gains by selling at just over $33 a share, or $82.6 million for its 2.5 million share stake. J.P. Morgan Chase, which is underwriting the sale, has the option to buy another 375,000 shares.

Benefitfocus said its shares had been owned by Goldman's venture-capital arm, which invests in young tech companies. So, it says, its sale is par for the course for a company that went public in 2013.

"They are selling shares as a natural course to reallocate capital toward their core competency — investing in start-up and early stage companies," Benefitfocus spokesman Drake Manning said in an email.

Goldman, which will keep a seat on the company's board, declined to comment.

Adding ads 

The Q — a Charleston-based live trivia app — is getting into the advertising game.

The app got its start late last year when it set out to compete with HQ Trivia, which offers its users cash prizes for answering live trivia questions on their smartphones. The Q, which is headquartered on Daniel Island, does the same.

But the local competitor has managed to carve out a few new niches by tweaking the game's format and, now, by selling advertisers a chance to put on their own games. The music-streaming service Pandora went first, with a music trivia game on Wednesday. It says others will roll out in June.

The company is now posturing itself as a "trivia game network," a sort of conduit for businesses to reach consumers with smartphone games. To be sure, The Q is still far smaller than HQ: It draws thousands of players, while HQ typically pulls more than a million a game.

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The Q started as a project of Stream, a video-hosting startup that figured there's an emerging market in interactive video. The app launched in December.

Corporate clients

The S.C. Research Authority has added a pair of Lowcountry startups to its S.C. Launch program.

The state-chartered economic-development agency, which focuses on innovation, says Bluffton-based Elongator Tailgates and Goose Creek-based Med-Ally have been designated as client companies. That means they're eligible to apply for investment funding from the agency and get mentoring help.

Elongator designed a pick-up truck tailgate that folds into a loading ramp, and Med-Ally manufactures medical devices.

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703. Follow him on Twitter @thadmoore.