Thursday, March 31
⓵ United Way’s ‘The Pitch’
After completing the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Social Innovation Accelerator, five impact-focused organizations will take the stage on April 6 for the program’s “The Pitch” competition. $270,000 in additional funding will be up for grabs, as well as a $25,000 audience choice award.
The accelerator, a collaboration with Accenture, aims to fuel bold social initiatives related to health, income, or education that can spur lasting change in North Texas. It provides entrepreneurs with everything from funding to mentorship and community connections to accelerate their ventures’ growth.
Pitching on April 6 will be AES Literacy Institute, which helps people earn their high school equivalency certificate; The Artist Outreach, an organization the teaches academic concepts to young students through artistic activities; Veritas Impact Partners, a telehealth services provider; Wesley-Rankin Aspiring Professionals, a workplace readiness pre-apprenticeship program for high school students; and Yumlish, a nutrition education service aimed at socioeconomic barriers to those living with diabetes.
⓶ Say ‘Cheese’—Legally
A Texas law limiting how drones can be used to take photos and video has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in Austin.
The law, dubbed the “Texas Privacy Act,” could have led to criminal charges and civil lawsuits for someone taking images “of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image,” according to the Dallas Observer.
The law offered a long list of exemptions for “commercial purposes”—but not for newsgathering by the press. It had been challenged by the National Press Photographers Association, the Texas Press Association, and former Dallas Observer editor Joseph Pappalardo.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman enjoined the state from enforcing the law, writing in his decision that “as plaintiffs note, the same drone image taken legally by a professor would constitute a misdemeanor if captured by a journalist.”
⓷ Crowdfunding Phases
Whether it’s for a commercial venture or a charitable cause, a crowdfunding campaign is likely to fail unless it reaches more than 70% of its goal within the first 20 days of launching—according to new research from UT Dallas.
UT Dallas marketing professor emeritus Brian Ratchford and his team explored the effects of social media on crowdfunding across nearly 440 GoFundMe campaigns. They found that social media is most helpful in the first 10 days of a campaign.
“If a campaign doesn’t do well at the outset, it is unlikely to succeed,” Ratchford said. You can read more in our story here.
Carbone Opens in Design District
⟫ New York-based Major Food Group is opening its second restaurant in Dallas this year. Doors open today at Carbone in the Design District, a hotly anticipated iteration of the Michelin-starred eatery in New York’s Greenwich Village. Based on classic mid-century New York Italian restaurants, it will be joined by a new concept next door this spring, Carbone Vino. Founded by Rich Torrisi, Jeff Zalaznick, and Mario Carbone (above), MFG opened Sadelle’s in Highland Park Village earlier this month.
Meta to Build ‘Hyperscale’ Data Center
⟫ Meta, formerly known as Facebook, said today it’s investing $800 million to create a “hyperscale” 900,000-square-foot data center in Temple, south of Waco (rendering above). Meta says its data centers use 32% less energy, have achieved net zero carbon emissions, and are LEED Gold certified and 80% more water-efficient than industry standard. “Meta’s continued expansion in Texas is a testament to the exceptional business climate and skilled, diverse workforce we have here in the Lone Star State,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement.
Aurora Releases Driver 2.0
⟫ Aurora Innovation has launched Aurora Driver Beta 2.0, the second release of its integrated hardware and autonomy system. Just last week, Aurora unveiled its test fleet of autonomous, ride-hailing Toyota Siennas by taking Ted Ogawa, the Plano-based CEO of Toyota Motor North America, on an autonomous ride toward DFW Airport. Based in Pittsburgh and Mountain View, California, Aurora continues to test and develop its ride-hailing and autonomous trucking tech from the Dallas area, including a new trucking route from Dallas to El Paso.
Goldman Grows Big in Big D
⟫ Goldman Sachs has grown its presence in North Texas from 2,000-plus employees to nearly 4,000 in less than a year, reports the Dallas Morning News. Dallas has now leapt past Salt Lake City to become Goldman’s second-biggest U.S. office outside of New York. The Wall Street giant had around 44,000 total employees at the end of 2021, and has put a big focus on engineering talent in DFW, the DMN says.
Wednesday, March 30
⓵ Out of This World
Plano-based Siemens Digital Industries Software is helping to launch a cutting-edge new space plane.
Hot off of a $1.4 billion raise that gave it a $4.5 billion valuation, Sierra Space has selected the automation and digitization arm of Siemens AG’s Xcelerator SaaS product to engineer the two space planes it aims to bring to market.
One of them, the Dream Chaser, has been contracted by NASA to perform cargo supply missions to the International Space Station. The other is a commercial “habitation and science platform called the Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE). The company says it can be used in low-Earth and lunar orbit, as well as on the Moon’s surface or in future missions to Mars. LIFE is being developed in partnership with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
⓶ Power Partnership
Dallas-headquartered City Electric Supply is partnering with Spain-based Wallbox to sell its Pulsar Plus smart home EV charger in over 535 stores nationwide.
The 48-amp charger is compatible with all EVs and offers Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity along with voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Home. CES will also be selling Wallbox’s smart power meters and pedestals.
CES, founded in 1951, employs over 3,000 people in its 600-plus North American branches.
⓷ Expanding into North Texas
Clear Street, a New York-based fintech that says it’s building a better infrastructure for capital markets with a cloud-based trading platform, has expanded operations into Dallas with three new director-level hires.
Joining the startup’s global team of around 300 are Dean Mele, Dallas branch manager and managing director of sales and trading; Mark Hall, managing director of sales and trading; and Danny Shapiro, director of sales and trading.
“Expanding our operations into Dallas, and bringing on top industry talent, continues to give Clear Street an edge in supporting our rapidly growing roster of prime brokerage clients,” said Chris Pento, Clear Street co-founder and CEO, in a statement. You can read more about the moves in our story here.
⟫ Dallas’ largest art installation was unveiled yesterday at Fountain Place, the I.M. Pei-designed “glass prism” landmark downtown building. The 8-story-tall painting of Dallas icons by artist Steve Penley was commissioned by the building’s owner, Goddard Investment Group, to complement its signature presence in the Dallas Arts District. The reproduction of Penley’s original 9-by-7-foot painting is visible from the arts district, Uptown, and Woodall Rodgers Freeway.
Boosting Women Entrepreneurs
⟫ Kendra Scott, founder and executive chairwoman of the self-named global accessories brand, has made a $13.25 million personal and corporate donation to UT Austin‘s Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute. The funding will help more than 24,000 women pursue their business aspirations in the coming decade. The institute hosts the Dream To Venture Female Founder Pitch Competition annually—giving female founders in North Texas and across the state a chance to showcase their innovation. The inaugural event was held Monday, so North Texas founders have a year to get their business dreams in gear.
DreamHack Comes Back
⟫ After a more than two-year hiatus, DreamHack is coming back to Dallas. Billing itself as an “immersive gaming experience,” the three-day event not only includes a chance to watch professional gamers battle it out and bring their own controls to play with others, it also incorporates cosplay, art, live music, and a chance to test out the latest tech in the industry. The last time the Swedish production company brought the festival to town was in 2019. It returns to the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center on June 5.
Tuesday, March 29
⓵ DFW TECH JOBS ABOUND
The Dallas metro area was No. 1 in the U.S. in net tech employment job growth last year, adding more than 5,300 net new positions—according to CompTIA’s State of the Tech Workforce report.
And the number of positions is expected to continue to grow, with CompTIA projecting a 17% increase in the region’s tech workforce between 2022 and 2023, representing nearly 7,700 net new positions. Overall, CompTIA said tech labor represents about 8.2% of the local workforce while representing 12.6% of the region’s economic impact to the tune of around $68 billion.
The State of the Tech Workforce report also detailed other interesting numbers about the region. Among other U.S. metros, Dallas ranks No. 6 in net tech employment with more than 313,000 workers in the industry. And its workers are the most diverse, with Black workers representing 10% of tech occupations, Hispanic workers representing 12%, and women representing 25%. Positions in software programming, cybersecurity, and IT support were among the most popular, with overall tech salaries about 129% higher than the median metro wage.
⓶ CRYPTO EXCHANGE
While exploring paths to potentially go public, a Dallas-area cryptocurrency trading platform is listing its tokens on KuCoin—an exchange that processes more than $5 billion in daily trading volume.
Aurox Holdings, which bills itself as “the Bloomberg Terminal for crypto,” has listed its URUS token on the exchange, giving it exposure to more than 10 million new users and investors and making Aurox’s “biggest and most prominent exchange listing to date,” according to co-founder and CEO Giorgi Khazardze.
According to Coinbase, there are nearly 522,000 URUS tokens in circulation, with a market cap of $56.3 million. The token is currently valued at nearly $108, after reaching an all-time high of more than $280 last November.
Aurox launched in 2017 and has amassed more than 50,000 traders on its platform. Last month, the company closed on its first round of outside funding with a $5 million seed round led by RB Capital’s Deborah Braun and Brett Rosen, which gave the company a post-money valuation of about $25 million.
⓷ 100 YEARS OF BUSINESS
Retail brand Dickies is turning 100 years old, and to celebrate it’s highlighting the workers that have helped turn the company into a household name.
The Fort Worth-based company is launching the Made in Dickies campaign, a year-long multimedia initiative that elevates the “individuals that not only built the brand, but the world in which we live.”
As part of the campaign, Dickies is launching a “digital maker marketplace” that features a selection of the brand’s historic products reimagined by new artists, alongside a new collection of apparel. The campaign also includes a documentary made in partnership with VICE TV and a book made with artist and illustrator Lucas Beaufort.
“Dickies represents more than just clothing,” said Denny Bruce, Dickies global brand president, in a statement. “The brand embodies hardworking people around the world and has transcended into a unique position of cultural relevance.”
BUILDING OUT IN NORTH DALLAS
⟫ After planting offices in North Texas about 15 years ago, Seattle-based business and technology consulting firm Slalom has doubled its physical footprint in the region—a move that comes after the company spent the last 10 months without a physical office in DFW. The company has leased nearly 15,000 square feet of space at the Lincoln Centre in North Dallas (above) to accommodate a local workforce that has grown from 100 to more than 400. Slalom said its new digs are “inspired” by Klyde Warren Park, with spaces for both collaboration and “heads-down focus.”
⟫ Dallas’ Trammell Crow Company, a commercial real estate developer is looking to bring solar power to 35 million square feet of industrial assets in its pipeline. In a $600 million partnership, the CBRE subsidiary has teamed up with Connecticut-based Altus Power to bring Altus’ electrification solutions, which include solar power generation, battery storage, and electric vehicle charging. Through the partnership, which the two firms see expanding in the future, about 300 megawatts of solar-generating capacity are expected to be generated over the next four years.
⟫ Plano-based NuVinAir, a developer of science-based cleaning and sanitary products for the automotive and transportation industry, is expanding its footprint into eight new states with a freshly inked franchise deal. Franchisors Doug Eaton and Mike Jensen are launching NuVinAir West, which will take the company’s products into New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and other states in the Pacific Northwest region, marking the largest territory expansion for NuVinAir’s franchise program. Eaton, the former president and CEO of Vantage Mobility International, launched NuVinAir Southwest last year, expanding the company’s presence into Arizona and Nevada. NuVinAir now has a presence in nearly 30 states.
Monday, March 28
⓵ AECOM GETS ITS TOES WET
Dallas-based engineering giant AECOM has been selected by TxDOT to provide design and engineering services for its Maritime Division.
AECOM will deliver services required for port, waterway, and intermodal freight planning for the Texas port system, which includes the major deep-draft ports of Port Houston (the largest in the U.S. by waterborne tonnage), Port of Corpus Christi, Port of Beaumont, Port Freeport, and others.
Texas is a port-driven state, and with the recent attention on the global supply chain, there’s never been a more critical time than present to ensure its systems remain robust,” said Jennifer Aument, chief executive of AECOM’s global transportation business, in a statement.
Enhancing port efficiency and resiliency, expanding the movement of freight through intermodal systems, and creating new jobs can boost “the state’s standing as an essential trade gateway to the world,” she added.
⓶ COMPLEXITY TO RENAME ITS HQ
Complexity Gaming has inked a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Lenovo—a signing so significant, it’s renaming its HQ at The Star in Frisco.
Complexity announced a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Lenovo, making the Fortune Global 500 company its exclusive desktop and laptop PC provider. Complexity’s Frisco-based headquarters will now be named the Lenovo Legion Esports Center, and the Lenovo logo will be featured on Complexity’s official jerseys.
Complexity is a GameSquare Esports company and one of North America’s longest-standing esports organizations. Its esports teams have won more than 140 championships in nearly 30 game titles over its 15-year-plus history.
In the coming years, Lenovo “will support Complexity’s pursuit to enhance player performance and improve the industry standard for player care,” Complexity says, adding that Lenovo’s tech “will enable Complexity content creators and production teams to produce a diverse catalog of work, including animation and 3D content.”
⓷ UTD STAYS ON TOP
The 18th installment of UTD’s Top 100 Business School Research Rankings reveals some shuffling at the top of the list—but UTD’s business school remains in the top five.
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania maintains its No. 1 position in both the worldwide and North American rankings, and New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business holds its spot at No. 2.
UTD’s Naveen Jindal School of Management slipped from No. 3 to No. 5, exchanging spots on the list with Columbia University’s Columbia Business School. Harvard Business School holds its place at No. 4 to round out the top five.
In the North American rankings elsewhere in North Texas, SMU’s Cox School of Business lands at No. 76 and TCU’s Neeley School of Business ranks No. 77.
Elsewhere in Texas, UT Austin ranks No. 12, Texas A&M Mays Business School ranks No. 26, Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business ranks No. 46, and University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business ranks No. 58,
The Jindal School at UTD has published the list annually since 2005, ranking the universities’ research productivity via a tool that studies research articles or notes published in 24 leading peer-reviewed business journals. The overall result: Research productivity has risen steadily worldwide, with 12,651 research articles published by the top 100 schools in the most recent five-year period.
Friday, March 25
The most popular stories on Dallas Innovates this week
⓵ How the Dallas International District Is Taking Shape, from a ‘People Mover’ to a 20-Acre Park to Smart Cities Tech and More
⓶ See Inside: BioLabs Coworking Lab Opens at Pegasus Park for North Texas Life Science Startups
⓷ Cold Chain Cargo: DFW Airport Aims to Help Put North Texas on the Global Map as a Life Science Hub, Expert Says
⓸ Why A Payments Platform Moved its Global HQ to Dallas, with Plans to Become a Unicorn
⓹ L.A.’s Two Bit Circus Expands to Dallas with Arcade Games, VR and AR Experiences, Robot Bartenders, and More
⓺ Frisco-Based esrp’s Susan Arledge on What’s Driving Corporate Execs to ‘Look South’
⓻ Island Becomes Dallas’ Newest Unicorn Weeks After Emerging From Stealth
⓼ Collaboration Is the Key to North Texas’ Emergence as a Bio-Hub
⓽ How Irving-Based Darling Ingredients Makes the World Greener, from Biofuels to ‘Neutraceuticals’ to Insect-Based Pet Food
⓾ Follow the Money: Dallas SPAC Raises $123M IPO, FortyTwo.VC Aims to Raise $50M Fund, Crestline Investors Closes Funds with $3.6B in Commitments, and More
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ AD AGENCY MAKES BIG MOVE
TRG—formerly The Richards Group—is making a big move to Deep Ellum following the sale of its Uptown HQ to an investor group.
The agency will be leasing over 100,000 square feet of office space in The Stack building on Commerce Street east of downtown Dallas, reports the Dallas Morning News.
“TRG is a Dallas agency through and through, and we chose earlier this year to build on our successful refresh in 2021 by joining The Stack Deep Ellum,” said Glenn Dady, TRG’s CEO, in a statement. “The neighborhood’s energy and the excitement of the surrounding thriving businesses in the heart of the city we love make it the perfect place to continue growing creatively in a unique space that puts us at the forefront of the advertising landscape. We’re thrilled to move to our new home early next year.”
The 16-story Stack building is now 100% leased less than a year after its May 2021 opening.
⓶ A DELIVERY FIRST
Red Oak-based Qarbon Aerospace today announced the completion and delivery of the first HEXA, LIFT’s eVTOL aircraft, produced by Qarbon.
Qarbon said the accomplishment was made possible by the continued partnership and support of Austin-based LIFT Aircraft. It also gave a nod to the coordination of Qarbon’s Thailand facility, which manufactures the carbon fiber structure for HEXA, and the team at the company’s Red Oak facility just south of Dallas, which completes the final assembly and system integration for the aircraft.
Dallas Innovates wrote last summer about the HEXA’s potential recreational and military uses, from flying “entertainment experiences” over tourist hotspots to air ambulance rescues by the U.S. Air Force.
⓷ NETFLIX BUYS BOSS FLIGHT
California-based streaming giant Netflix has swooped into the Dallas area to buy a local video game developer.
The streamer has acquired Allen-based Boss Flight Entertainment, which was founded in 2013 by CEO David Rippy, CCO Bill Jackson, and COO Scott Winsett, according to a Netflix statement.
“Boss Fight’s mission is to bring simple, beautiful, and fun game experiences to our players wherever they want to play,” Boss Sight’s founders said in the statement. “Netflix’s commitment to offer ad-free games as part of members’ subscriptions enables game developers like us to focus on creating delightful game play without worrying about monetization.”
Netflix launched mobile games to its members four months ago, and aims to build a “world-class games studio” to bring original games to its “hundreds of millions of members around the world.”
The Boss Fight team will continue to operate out of their current studios in Allen, Austin, and Seattle, Netflix says. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
E-BIKING TO A LAUNCH
⟫ Bike.com, a Dallas-based online marketplace that aims to eventually be a one-stop-shop for a “vast array” of bikes, has gone live. The marketplace is launching with its own line of Denago e-bikes (above) and is working out of a temporary office in the VentureX building on Alpha Drive, as it explores the Dallas area for its permanent HQ. “Our long-term goal is to offer multiple brands of bikes and accessories that will provide our Bike.com customers a great choice of products,” founder and CEO Dave Duecker told us. You can read more in our story here.
⟫ 330 Norfolk Southern train engines will be upgraded at a one million-square foot Fort Worth facility by Pittsburgh-based Wabtec Corp., reports the Dallas Morning News. Wabtec will modernize the locomotives’ engines to be more fuel efficient and to release fewer greenhouse gases.
⟫ Dallas-based power management firm Concentric LLC has acquired has acquired Indy Power Grid, an Indianapolis-based industrial battery and charger supplier. “Power Grid’s team of service technicians are highly regarded for their expertise in battery and charger diagnostics,” said Concentric COO John Winter in a statement. “This acquisition further solidifies Concentric’s forklift power business and reach throughout the critical Illinois and Indiana markets.” Terms were not disclosed.
MUSEUM BREAKS GROUND TODAY
⟫ The National Medal of Honor Museum broke ground in Arlington today, aiming to tell the stories of Medal of Honor recipients “while shedding light on the wars in which they fought and the ideals that the Medal of Honor represents.” The museum’s foundation and the Baltimore-based Cordish Companies announced a partnership today as well. “Engaging the millions of visitors to Cordish’s Live! Districts across the country will exponentially raise awareness for this mission,” said the museum foundation’s president and CEO Chris Cassidy in a statement.
Thursday, March 24
⓵ ‘REVOLUTIONIZING’ CRYPTO INVESTMENTS
Taking its name from the Latin word for “to revolutionize,” a pair of Fort Worth investors have launched a new crypto-focused hedge fund.
Jared George and Paul Hellman launched Verterent Capital earlier this year with the goal of raising a $25 million digital asset fund focused on areas like decentralized finance, crypto tokens, and payment rails, the Dallas Business Journal reports. The firm aims to have an allocation of 10 to 25 crypto assets. Its goal is to beat out Bitcoin on an annualized basis.
George is a former portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley and Hellman most recently served as the VP of accounting at PE-backed frac sand provider Black Mountain Sand. Hellman told the DBJ that Verterent sees cryptocurrency as a path to financial freedom and advancements in technology.
⓶ ‘DIGITAL DIARY’ FOR THE NEURODIVERSE
Rootines, an app from Red Oak-based ASD.ai that tracks the daily routines and moods of those with chronic behavioral health and developmental disorders, has progressed beyond its beta phase.
The app is now available commercially on both iOS and Android, aiding parents and caregivers while providing valuable data and insights to hospitals, therapy centers, and healthcare clinics.
The startup got a boost last fall from a $1 million angel investment from Pittsburgh-based Determined Capital.
ASD.ai’s co-founder and CEO, Tamera Jackson (above), saw the need for the app a few years ago when she became close to her friend’s son, who had autism, and visited him in a group home. She was surprised to see how little technology was used. Records about important things like having meltdowns or missing proper hydration were written “with pencil and paper.”
“I was just shocked that there wasn’t more support for the caregivers and for the patients themselves,” she told us last fall. “And I started becoming pretty passionate about trying to make that happen.”
⓷ FC DALLAS SETS A RECORD
No, it wasn’t for total goals or red cards in one game—this record was a little more down to earth.
An FC Dallas soccer pitch has become the one millionth sports field painted by Denmark-based TinyMobileRobots. FC Dallas manages 20 soccer fields and has been using the TinyMobileRobots solution since 2018.
“We use the robots because they’re so effective,” said Jonathan Wolf, supervisor of grounds at FC Dallas, in a statement. “Our fans love the robots because they’re so cool. And now we get to be a part of STEM history, as we mark the one millionth field globally using this technology at our facility.”
The fully autonomous, GPS line-marking robots have led to savings of 1.6 million hours, over $100 million, and 1.5 million gallons of paint for its customers across three continents, TinyMobileRobots says.
INNOVATING BY PLANE…
⟫ The McKinney Economic Development Corporation has given its New Corporate Business Award to Cirrus Aircraft. The Duluth, Minnesota-based company is expanding its facility at McKinney National Airport and operates an Innovation Center out of Common Desk in McKinney Square. Cirrus, which received a grant from the MEDC, currently has 18 local employees at the center with plans to create additional high-tech positions. A global leader in personal aviation, Cirrus makes the best-selling SR Series piston aircraft and the Vision Jet, the world’s first single-engine Personal Jet.
…AND INNOVATING BY CHOPPER
⟫ After moving from Canada to Irving, an international helicopter services and maintenance company is eying new offices. CHC Helicopter, which also has offices in Houston, is planning to move its headquarters into a 12,000 square-foot space at Urban Towers in Las Colinas from its previous digs at the Las Colinas Urban Center, The Dallas Morning News reports, citing state business filings. CHC, which dates its origins to the 1940s, has thousands of employees and provides services to “remote and challenging destinations with clients in spaces like offshore oil and gas platforms, search and rescue, and medical evacuations.”
ATHLETIC GEAR SWAPPING
⟫ Getting in on the circular economy, Allen-based sports equipment retailer MonkeySports is launching a new trade-in program. Using the platform of Boston-based athletic gear marketplace SidelineSwap, customers can trade in their used gear for MonkeySports store credit. Items that don’t qualify for trade-in can be donated to youth sports programs. MonkeySports moved from California to North Texas in 2014 and operates brick-and-mortar locations in the U.S., Canada, and Sweden.
Wednesday, March 23
⓵ ‘I PUT MY MONEY WHERE MY MOUTH IS’
As GameStop looks to focus more on e-commerce and expand into the NFT marketplace, activist investor Ryan Cohen’s RC Ventures is upping its stake in the Grapevine-based video game retailer.
The firm, led by the former Chewy.com co-founder, first took a 10% stake in GameStop in 2020. It has now upped that to 11.9%, with Cohen tweeting “I put my money where my mouth is.” According to The Dallas Morning News, the stake represents 9.1 million shares that are valued at a total of more than $86 million. The news saw GameStop’s shares, which have recently become a meme stock among retail traders, rise 30%.
The move comes as GameStop looks to modernize its e-commerce business and launch an NFT marketplace in a partnership with Australian startup ImmutableX. Earlier this month, the company reported a more than $147 million loss in Q4. Its wild ride continues as the company has been hit with a lawsuit over allegations of unpaid bills to Boston Consulting Group for its work guiding GameStop’s business path.
⓶ VIRTUAL SHOPPING
Immerss co-founder and CEO Arthur Veytsman says that what’s missing from e-commerce is “human-to-human interaction.”
To bring that to the space, the Dallas-based startup is creating a new app for the Salesforce Commerce Cloud that creates an in-person virtual shopping experience. Through the Shop Live app, retailers can connect shoppers to sales associates from product selection to purchase with video and live-chat options. Immerss said the app is currently in beta and is expected to be more widely available in the coming months.
Immerss was founded in 2015 with the aim of helping brands and retailers cultivate relationships with online customers. Fueled by a $1.1 million seed round led by Oak Stream investors and Muse Family Enterprises, the company works with brands like Lucchese, Radley London, and Ylang 23.
“Live video commerce is rapidly emerging and redefining how brands and retailers interact with their customers to provide an elevated online shopping experience,” Veytsman said in a statement.
⓷ DASHING FOOD BANK DELIVERY
The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) is looking to get more meals into the homes of those who lack transportation or live in remote areas.
The organization is teaming up with DoorDash to deliver food boxes, specifically targeting seniors via its program with the Texas Department of Agriculture. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program serves up pre-packaged boxes of non-perishable items monthly. Currently, DoorDash drivers are serving NTFB clients in seven zip codes across the region.
The NTFB says it’s delivered nearly 900 meals through the program since launching it in early December.
“With the additional risks from COVID-19, reaching North Texas seniors and ensuring they get the nourishment they need is more important than ever,” said Madison Messinger, NTFB programs manager, in a statement. “We’re excited about this new partnership with DoorDash that will remove barriers to access for seniors experiencing hunger and allow them to receive CSFP food directly to their homes.”
Tuesday, March 22
⓵ BUILDING FOR GOOD
Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is donating $436 million to Habitat for Humanity International—and millions of that are coming to Dallas.
Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity is set to receive $9 million from her gift. The organization’s branch in Fort Worth will also be receiving part of it. In Dallas, the funding will help the organization buy and develop land in areas like West Dallas and the city’s Joppa neighborhood.
“As the cost of land continues to dramatically rise across our region, a gift of this magnitude ensures we are able to make significant land investments that will help keep the cost of homes within reach for thousands of Dallas residents,” said Dave Crawford, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity CEO, in a statement.
As of last year, Scott had donated more than $8.6 billion to hundreds of organizations following her divorce from Jeff Bezos, Forbes reports. And according to the Advocate, millions of that have made their way to North Texas. In recent months, The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Dallas landed a $4.8 million gift from Scott, while Big Thought received $1.5 million and Communities in Schools affiliates in Dallas, North Texas, and Tarrant County received a collective $9.9 million.
⓶ SMART REALTOR SCHEDULING
With North Texas continuing to be a hot real estate market, a local tech company wants to help agents manage their time.
Alvarado-based Showing Pro Services launched last year with a desktop version of its scheduling platform for real estate agents. Now it’s launching a mobile version this month. Just in time, too—according to Roofstock, single-family homes in the region are selling 14% faster than they did last year, and Showing Pro says real estate agents are seeing “upwards of 30 showings a day on a single residential listing.”
Showing Pro is led by CEO Debbie Remington—who’s also the owner and managing broker of Remington Team Realty—and COO David Coben, who’s also as an agent for Remington. The company’s platform allows agents to list properties and approve showing requests online or via text message.
“Real estate agents approach technology from a very different perspective,” Remington said in a statement. “We all understand that agents need practical, time-saving tools, yet tech companies too often focus on internal metrics and contextual data.”
⓷ BIG RIG ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE
A local company is looking to be the go-to when a a commercial fleet vehicle breaks down.
Argyle-based TNN Fleet Solutions, a breakdown and maintenance tech company, has been operating in the area since 2009 with a software platform that helps operators manage unexpected maintenance events. Now it’s launching a solution for insurance providers.
Called HD Assist (short for heavy duty), the roadside assistance solution allows insurers to offer policies that include full-service management from towing to repair. TNN says it’s handled more than a million breakdown events and has a vendor network across the U.S. and Canada.
“We get drivers and equipment back on the road—regardless of what’s covered and what’s not,” said Tyler Harden, executive VP at TNN, in a statement. “We ensure deductibles and other expenses are collected and distributed properly. Our technology makes these transactions clear, quick, and precise—exactly what you’d want if you were a stranded driver, or an owner-operator wanting to reduce downtime and get freight moving again.”
INDOOR GOLF IN LAS COLINAS
⟫ A new tech-forward indoor golf concept is opening its doors in Irving next month. Called Eight Under, the venue will feature things like swing analysis simulators and the ability to play virtually on famous courses. For a membership fee, Eight Under will offer exclusive lessons and drills. The company was founded by Mike Bury, who previously served as the director of instruction at the Las Colinas Country Club and is the owner of his own golf academy.
⟫ Plano-headquartered FedEx Office is teaming up with a Boston-based firm to provide digital notary services. Through a partnership with online notary and e-signature services firm Notarize, FedEx customers will be able to connect with a commissioned notary via video chat 24/7. Jeff Heyman, FedEx Office VP of product development and e-commerce, said the move will help keep up with the changing trends and demands that small businesses and consumers face.
AG INNOVATION GRANTS
⟫ The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is looking to fund innovation practices in Texas with a $1 million investment. The Texas NRCS has opened applications to businesses and individuals for grant funding to carry out projects focused on using technology or innovative methods to address natural resource conservation. The organization said priority areas include urban and small farm agricultural conservation, climate smart agriculture, and innovation in agricultural systems. Applications are open through May 20.
Monday, March 21
⓵ PELOSI TALKS HEALTH CARE IN DALLAS
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Dallas today to talk about making prescription drugs and health care more affordable.
Pelosi joined local leaders including Congressman Colin Alred, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, and Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services Dr. Phil Huang at a roundtable focused on expanding access to health care. She heard personal care stories from locals about the high costs of insulin and other prescription meds.
“I was honored to welcome Speaker Pelosi to Dallas to meet with North Texans and discuss the progress we’ve made and the work ahead to lower costs,” Allred said in a statement. “Whether it’s the high cost of health insurance or prescription drugs, or Texas’s failure to expand Medicaid, health care is one of the things I hear about most from North Texans.”
⓶ CALCULATING CONSTRUCTION COSTS
Beck Technology is adding artificial intelligence to its construction estimating tool.
The Dallas-based preconstruction data lifecycle company is teaming up with Miami’s Togal.AI, a machine learning software focused on determining how much material is needed for a job. Beck said the move also marks the first phase of an upcoming integration between Togal.AI and the company’s DESTINI Estimator, an integrated construction estimating software product.
With the partnership, the estimator tool will be able to interpret how much construction material would be needed for a project based on drawings and renderings.
“Artificial intelligence isn’t new to the construction industry, but the way Togal.AI has applied AI to takeoff is truly innovative and adds enormous value,” said Stewart Carroll, president at Beck Technology, in a statement. “One of the more time consuming and high-risk tasks for an estimator is the takeoff process, and our upcoming integration will drastically cut the time and risk associated with accurate takeoff.”
⓷ STIRRING UP SINGLE PARENTS
Today is National Single Parent Day—and Dallas online dating giant Match Group is launching its newest app just in time.
Called Stir, Match’s app aims to connect a specific community: single parents. One thing that sets it apart from other dating apps is a scheduling feature that allows users to coordinate calendars and sync up their “me time” for a date.
“Having kids shouldn’t be a dealbreaker when dating,” said Dinh Thi Bui, VP of new verticals at Match Group, in a statement. “We’re dedicated to giving single parents a dating experience where they’re celebrated and feel like they can be themselves. With that, our hope is that they can truly focus on having a personal life beyond navigating parenthood.”
Earlier this month, Match rolled out its background check feature on Tinder, with plans to incorporate it into other dating apps in the future.
Friday, March 18
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ L.A.’s Two Bit Circus Expands to Dallas with Arcade Games, VR and AR Experiences, Robot Bartenders, and More
⓶ Cawley Partners’ CEO: ‘Dallas Is Thriving While Other Markets Continue to Lag’
⓷ Dallas-Based HF Sinclair Launches on NYSE Under the Ticker ‘DINO’
⓸ Dallas Proptech Pioneer Kyle Waldrep on the ‘Massive Opportunity’ to Drive Tech Adoption for CRE Owners
⓹ Meet the Fastest-Growing Local Companies in the Southwest, According to Inc.
⓺ Building on a ‘Crypto Mining Gold Rush’: Dallas’ Blockmetrix Raises $43M Series B
⓻ State of Entrepreneurship 2022: More Than $2 Billion Invested in North Texas Entrepreneurs Last Year
⓼ Winning Deals: Granite Properties’ David Cunningham on Amenities, Architecture, and the ‘Flight to Quality’ in Office Real Estate
⓽ Al Gore to Keynote Dallas Unicorn o9 Solutions’ Annual Digital Transformation Event in April
⓾ Real Estate Entrepreneur Rogers Healy Launches RHA Land and Lake for ‘All Things’ Rural Texas
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ PRIVACY-FIRST AD TARGETING
Fort Worth-based Koddi has introduced what it calls “privacy-first” dynamic targeting to its ad tech platform.
“Historically, targeting has largely depended either on keywords, which had to be manually updated and maintained, or static audience segments, which often relied on privacy-busting cookies,” said Jason Pratt (above), general manager of Koddi Ads. “This new feature really is changing the game for publishers and advertisers by allowing them to turn their zero- and first-party data into high-value, profit-generating target segments that set them ahead of competitors.”
The company says its dynamic targeting is architected to be privacy-first and GDPR/CCPA-compliant by default—giving consumers “complete privacy and control over their data,” while advertisers gain “increased accuracy and transparency, and vastly improved performance.”
⓶ BUSINESS MESSAGING
Richardson-based Mavenir, a cloud-native network software provider, has launched a SaaS-based business communications portfolio it says “enables omni-channel customer experiences to businesses of all sizes.”
“Gartner predicts that 80% of customer service organizations will abandon mobile apps in favor of messaging by 2025,” said Jorgen Nilsson, president of enterprise connect business at Mavenir. “As a leader in messaging, with 60% SMS market share and over 3 billion mobile messaging subscribers globally, Mavenir is unlocking the power of business messaging to create a superior customer experience.”
Nilsson says his company helps customers by leveraging its messaging footprint, its certification as an Apple Messages for Business MSP, and other key ecosystem partnerships.
Its new portfolio includes Mavenir Engage chatbots and automations and Mavenir CPaaS programmable APIs and turnkey applications, along with high-definition connection capabilities and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions.
⓷ HALL OF FAMER
Tom Hicks, former owner of the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars and founder, chairman, and partner of Hicks Holdings, will be inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame this fall.
The Hall of Fame is inducting Hicks for a long list of career accomplishments and notes that he pioneered the “buy and build” strategy of investing. Hicks co-founded and is the former chairman of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, Inc., “one of the world’s most active nationally prominent private equity firms specializing in leveraged acquisitions which raised more than $12 billion of private equity across six funds and completed over $50 billion of leveraged acquisitions,” according to his bio on the Hall of Fame site.
He currently leads Hicks Equity Partners, the private equity arm of his family office, which specializes in manufacturing, energy, food and beverage, media, and special situations proprietary transactions ranging from $25 million to $300 million in enterprise value.
The 2022 induction dinner will be held November 3 in Houston, and will also honor four inductees from Houston—John Arnold, Ric Campo, Jeffery D. Hildebrand, and Paul W. Hobby—along with Austin’s Whitney Wolfe Herd.
TOP 10 AIRPORT IN THE WORLD
⟫ Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport has been named one of the World’s 10 Best Airports by Money.co.uk. DFW ranks No. 9, while the top three global airports are in Singapore, Tokyo, and Mexico City. Only three U.S. airports ranked higher than DFW—Atlanta’s at No. 4, Charlotte’s at No. 7, and Orlando’s at No. 8. Ratings were based on factors including on-time flights, transfer times, restaurants, shops, parking costs, and more.
MARK CUBAN BETS ON METAVERSE
⟫ If you’re wondering if the metaverse is really a thing, here’s a hint: Mark Cuban just placed a bet on it by being one of the lead investors in a $5 million raise for Oorbit—a London-based startup that’s creating an interactive entertainment platform for the metaverse it hopes will be accessible to all. “Oorbit has put the user at the center of their technology so they enable games and even worlds that will delight all comers, and blaze a path for metaverse growth overall,” Cuban said in a statement. Other lead investors included Deadmau5-backed gaming venture Pixelynx and HOF Capital.
NEW ENGINEERING OFFICE IN PLANO
⟫ Dematic, the world’s second-largest global logistics and warehouse automation company, opened a new 45,000-square-foot office in Plano yesterday. Mike Larsson, Americas EVP of the Atlanta-based company, is seen above cutting the ribbon beside Plano Mayor John Muns. Dematic invested $2.5 million to relocate the company’s former Lewisville office to its new Plano digs, which will be dedicated to engineering and hold up to 400 employees, including team members from the Lewisville location. “Our company is growing at a rapid rate,” Larsson said in a statement. “We’re excited about our momentum and want to use [our new office] to build a larger presence in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.”
Thursday, March 17
⓵ FUNDING FEMALE FOUNDERS
Richardson’s HBAR Foundation is launching a fund to invest in female founders, in the midst of Women’s History Month.
The foundation—established and funded by distributed ledger tech company Hedera Hashgraph to provide resources to entrepreneurs developing on the network—has launched the HBAR Foundation Female Founders Fund. It says the goal of the market development fund is to fund seed-stage projects, while supporting and incentivizing diverse women to join the Hedera and web3 ecosystems.
To lead and manage the fund, the foundation has tapped Jennifer Kim, founder of Blockheads Development. The foundation said it plans to fund between five and 10 projects focused on things like time, budget, and actionability.
The HBAR Foundation was established last September, with Hedera’s governing council—made up of 26 companies, including Google, IBM, and Boeing—earmarking 5.35 billion of its HBAR tokens (at the time worth about $2.5 billion) to provide the foundation with resources and grant funding.
⓶ EXPANDING FREE COLLEGE TUITION
The University of Texas System is expanding free access to higher education for Texas undergrads at seven of its institutions.
Through a recently created $300 million endowment, the system is expanding its free tuition program. Locally, that means that qualified students at UT Arlington with a family income of under $85,000 and students at UT Dallas with a family income below $65,000 are eligible for free tuition.
UT Arlington said it expects the endowment will help more than 4,000 students—about one in 10—next year. Previously, the university had a similar program that ended in 2015, the Texas Tribune reports. The endowment allows UT Dallas to expand its coverage upward from the families earning up to $25,000 it helped before.
“We know the state continues to grow, and our younger and more diverse populations will continue to require access to education that they need to contribute to a strong and competitive Texas economy,” said James Milliken, UT System chancellor, at a board of regents meeting last month.
⓷ 100-CITY TEST RIDES
Fort Worth-based Tucker Powersports is hitting the road to give test rides of its electric mobility products to dealers and customers nationwide.
The Tucker ePower Experience will launch this month, making stops in over 100 cities across the U.S. Test rides and product info on five of the program’s brands will be offered along the way—like the Dualton scooters seen above.
Products that be available to ride also include Fantic and Fuell ebikes, Evolve skateboards, and a UBCO electric adventure vehicle (EAV).
Stops will be at powersports dealerships and staffed by Tucker reps, as well as brand ambassadors and reps from some of the participating companies.
BOARDING PASS TO LUNAR ORBIT
⟫ Ever wanted to book a space flight, but don’t have the money to hitch a ride with SpaceX or Blue Origin? Now you can—or at least your name can. NASA is taking names to be collected onto a flash drive that will be flown around the moon on the space agency’s unmanned Artemis I mission. While no launch date has been set, Space.com reports the craft will blast off sometime after May. According to NASA’s website, the Artemis I is the first in a series of missions aimed at enabling human exploration of the Moon and Mars. For those curious, you can watch NASA roll out the 322-foot-tall spacecraft down the 4-mile stretch from its site at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to its launchpad here. (It got moving at 4 p.m. today, but could take up to 11 hours to reach its destination).
OUTSIDE-IN SUPPLY CHAIN PLANNING
⟫ Through what it calls a reverse RFP process, Dallas enterprise AI software platform o9 Solutions is looking for business manufacturers to test outside-in supply chain planning concepts. Through a joint venture with research firm Supply Chain Insights, o9 will select two companies to participate in the research, which builds upon its supply chain-focused open-source think tank initiative Project Zebra—defining, testing, and validating the value proposition of the outside-in approach. The company said the results of the two selected pilots will help “redefine the cross-industry global standard for supply chain excellence.
LOTS MORE TECH WORKERS
⟫ Global retail giant Walmart is bringing new tech jobs to Dallas. The company said it’s looking to add 5,000 new employees to its 20,000-person Global Tech team—the company’s fastest growing corporate team. While Walmart didn’t disclose how many of those hires will be at its Dallas hub, the announcement comes as it plans to open new tech hubs in Atlanta and Toronto, adding to the 17 other locations where Walmart’s Global tech team currently operates. According to Suresh Kumar, executive VP, CTO, and chief development officer, new hires will focus on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in Walmart’s workplace.
Wednesday, March 16
⓵ SOLAR SHINGLES
A North Texas company is bringing solar shingle technology to the area.
Waxahachie’s Roofing & Restoration Services of America (RRSA), announced it’s the first company in the area to bring GAF Energy’s Timberline Solar technology to the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
The solar shingle technology was announced by GAF, a division of New York’s Standard Industries, at CES in January. According to TechCrunch, the shingles can be installed by any roofer with a nail gun. The shingles are certified by UL to be used as both solar panels and construction material, and are competing with Tesla’s Solar Roof business.
“Texans care about their energy independence and care about reliability,” said Veronica Nelson, marketing manager at RRSA, in a statement. “With Timberline Solar, we’re installing a powerful roof that will save homeowners money in their electricity bills and provide local, clean energy for Texas homes.”
⓶ 150,000 CONTAINERS
In a new move to boost the U.S. supply chain, Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway and Arkansas-based J.B. Hunt are launching a joint effort to “substantially improve capacity” in the intermodal marketplace.
J.B. Hunt plans to grow its intermodal fleet to as many as 150,000 containers in the next three to five years, a more than 40% increase from its end-of-2021 count. Hunt has completed more than four million intermodal loads since 2020.
As part of the initiative, BNSF will increase capability at multiple intermodal facilities across the U.S. and bolster its railcar equipment to accommodate the anticipated increase in container capacity. It says that will support efficient throughput and strong service performance.
“We will raise the bar on service to the next level through technology and innovation as we further integrate our platforms with real-time data exchanges,” said Katie Farmer, BNSF president and CEO, said in a statement. “We want our customers to enjoy the best of both worlds: economical and environmentally friendly service delivered by transportation’s premium providers.”
⓷ COWORKING FOR DOCTORS
A McKinney company has opened its doors for what it describes as the “WeWork for doctors.”
TexasMed offers fully furnished medical suites, along with medical supplies and on-site office support like receptionists and laboratory testing for hourly, daily, part-time, and full-time use. The company says its goal is to lower the cost barriers of entry and need to handle real estate deals for medical practitioners.
Founded by North Texas anesthesiologist Dr. Ahmed Embabi and an investment banking partner, TexasMed says that 14 practices have already set up shop in its space.
“I started searching for medical office space and was overwhelmed by the up-front costs and multi-year lease commitment,” Embabi wrote on TexasMed’s website. “I started discussing this problem with my colleagues and it quickly became apparent this was an industry-wide problem. This inspired us to start TexasMed.”
⟫ Westlake-based Charles Schwab has launched the ability to create thematic stock lists on its trading platform. The resource announced today is designed for “self-directed investors who want to invest in stocks aligned with their personal interests and values.” Clients can now view potential investments from a list of 45 different thematic categories, with around 900 companies representing trends from data advancement to medical breakthroughs to environmental innovation to pets, space, and more.
⟫ Fort Worth is renowned as an art and museum city. Even its buses are canvases for creativity—as seen on the one above promoting the city for Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Cincinnati-based Adsposure gave the FWHCC a Creativity Award as part of its vote-based 2021 transit awards for the eight U.S. cities where it has offices. It gave other awards for bus and outdoor advertising art to the Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth ISD, and Tarrant County 911.
⟫ Chefs and restaurant entrepreneur hopefuls from high schools across Texas will gather in Frisco March 25-27 for the 2022 Texas ProStart Invitational, a “Top Chef” and “Shark Tank”-style competition. The event, managed by the workforce development foundation of the Texas Restaurant Association, will feature up to 45 teams of five students. Culinary teams will prep a three-course meal in an hour. Management teams will create and present a new restaurant concept—including menu and staffing plans—to a panel of judges. Teams representing the Dallas area include Poteet High School, Allen High School, Mesquite High School, Royse City High School, Richardson High School, North Mesquite High School, West Mesquite High School, Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy, and Cedar Hill High.
Tuesday, March 15
⓵ TUNNEL FROM OUR FUTURE?
With more than 11 million residents expected to call Dallas-Fort Worth home by 2045, the North Central Texas Council of Governments is looking for creative solutions for how they’ll move around.
The regional planning organization has held initial conversations with Elon Musk’s The Boring Company, a tunnel-building technology firm, according to the Dallas Business Journal. (The company’s R&D tunnel in Hawthorne, California, is seen above.) The concept proposal, which has already been rolled out in Las Vegas, will likely go to the NCTCOG’s Regional Transportation Council as a draft over the summer.
While that project may or may not come to fruition, the Regional Transportation Council is planning to spend $30 million on automated vehicle projects across parts of the region in the coming year. Project types include automated buses and shuttles, parking systems, and delivery services, according to Community Impact.
“Technology has an important role to play in the development of the Dallas-Fort Worth transportation system, and our region continues to attract leaders in the field of transportation innovation,” Brian Wilson, NCTCOG spokesperson, told the DBJ.
⓶ WORKING WITH APPLE
Plano-based Argent Associates is working with Apple to deploy its solutions at Apple’s renewable energy-run data centers.
The news comes after Argent Associates graduated from Apple’s Impact Accelerator program. The company, founded in 1998 by CEO Beatriz Manetta, was part of the first cohort of the program, which was created as part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.
Argent’s software portfolio includes things like network engineering, warehouse logistics, and energy-saving solutions. The company pioneered an AI-based, real-time data collection process at the edge of the network to assess energy consumption and areas for reduction for its users. Everything from vulnerabilities, over usage, peak demands, and anomalies can be monitored by using Argent’s proprietary Aire Edge system.
“As a Latina businesswoman in a very male-dominated industry, I feel so blessed to be part of this program,” Manetta said in a statement. “Apple is creating that funnel for the next generation of companies that they can help grow and scale.”
⓷ RETRO BRANIFF AIRWAYS PRODUCTS
Braniff International Airways, the former airline, is still alive and kicking—just not in the air.
It’s now a global historic airline branding and marketing firm offering online retail and historic airliner tours. Known for its swank—even groovy—designs from the 1960s and ’70s, the airline collaborated with designers and artists including Alexander Girard, Emilio Pucci, Halston, and Alexander Calder. Braniff is now partnering with L.A.-based Perpetual Licensing to develop new, design-driven products that celebrate the iconic travel brand.
“Our vision is to celebrate this illustrious history and introduce the Braniff brand to a new generation of travel enthusiasts through a curated line of consumer products, services and experiences,” Braniff Airways Chairman Richard Ben Cass said in a statement.
Monday, March 14
⓵ CAMPUSES AT CIRCLE T
Dallas-based real estate developer Hillwood has launched The Campuses at Circle T, a corporate destination in Westlake features six campuses in the historic Circle T Ranch.
“For more than 30 years, we’ve preserved Circle T Ranch, with only limited and thoughtful development during that time,” Hillwood Chairman Ross Perot, Jr., said in a statement. “Today, we’re sharing our ultimate vision for the ranch, providing corporate residents with a unique and natural environment that doesn’t exist anywhere else in North Texas.”
Perot says the campuses’ unique blend of ranchland, parkland, and architecture combined with all the region has to offer “makes it one of the premier corporate addresses in the nation.”
You can read about the origins of the Circle T deal in our story here.
⓶ ‘NEXT BIG IDEA’
Fort Worth’s Sundance Square is looking for the next crop of entrepreneurs to open their shop doors in its location.
Sundance Square owners Ed and Sasha Bass have launched the Next Big Idea challenge, aimed at finding the next small business to set up a brick-and-mortar shop in the 37-acre mixed-use development. Winners will get a one-year lease, interior design and marketing help, and potential access to seed funding to open their venue.
Sundance Square said it’s looking for entrepreneurs and artisans with a passion for their craft and for the Fort Worth community. Applications are open now, with a deadline of April 18. After that, finalists will be selected to make pitches at an upcoming event at the development. Sasha Bass added that there will also be a focus on having a diverse lineup of entrepreneurs.
You can read more about Sundance’s earlier success with Next Big Idea in our story here.
⓷ LOCAL SPAC IPO
Nubia Brand International, a Dallas-based SPAC targeting the wireless telecom industry, aims to raise $110 million in its Nasdaq IPO this week.
On Friday, the blank check company began offering 11 million shares at $10 each under the Nasdaq ticker symbol NUBIU, reports the Dallas Morning News.
Mach FM, a wireless telecom firm headed by CEO Jaymes Winters and CFO Vlad Prantsevich, is backing the SPAC. Its board chairman, Alexander Monje, is chief legal officer of the SPAC-focused consulting firm Benessere Investment Group, according to Renaissance Capital.
There’s no word yet on who Nubia aims to acquire.
⟫ Red Oak-based Qarbon Aerospace has partnered with Georgia Tech to participate in NASA’s University Leadership Initiative, focused on the development of advanced structures for civil vertical lift vehicles. NASA has granted Georgia Tech—a leader in vertical lift research—$5.37 million to address the technical barriers of developing vertical lift vehicles for civilian use. As a partner in the ULI, Qarbon will lease the innovation and manufacturing demonstration for Urban Air Mobility airframe structures and testing the use of thermoplastic components, as well as the repair and maintenance of advanced structures.
⟫ Dallas-based Recreational Realty, a leading owner, operator, and developer of RV and marine storage facilities, has expanded to the Houston metro region. It’s acquiring eight facilities near Lake Houston, Lake Conroe, Cypress, and The Woodlands, among others. In December, the startup partnered with Centerbridge Partners and WOJO Capital Partners to accelerate its expansion into a national platform.
⟫ ClubCorp, the Dallas-based leading owner of private golf and country clubs and city and stadium clubs in North America, just added Red Raider world to its portfolio. It’s signed a long-term agreement to operate The Texas Tech Club at Texas Tech University. Key enhancements in the coming months will include a multimillion-dollar renovation of The Texas Tech Club and the east side of the team’s stadium, along with new services, menus, and social and philanthropic programming. Last fall, we profiled ClubCorp and its latest moves into BigShots golf entertainment venues and more.
Friday, March 11
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ What Makes North Texas Great? We Asked the Experts in CRE and Economic Development
⓶ With New $300M Joint Venture, Dallas Single-Family Rental Giant Eyes High-End Homes
⓷ Aiming to Make Fort Worth a Hub of ‘Energy 2.0,’ Electric Motor Maker Launches Production with $17M Funding
⓸ Dallas Sports Analytics Startup Raises $3.5M to Predict the Next Play in the Game
⓹ SMU Study Uses Drones and Machine Learning to Find ‘Infrastructure Desert’ Neighborhoods in Dallas
⓺ Amazon Partners with Four North Texas Colleges and Universities on Fully Funded Tuition for Its Employees
⓻ West Dallas STEM School Inspires Toyota’s $110M ‘Driving Possibilities’ Program
⓼ Fetii, ‘the Uber for Large Groups,’ Plans to Roll Into Dallas As It Expands in 2022
⓽ Building on a ‘Crypto Mining Gold Rush’: Dallas’ Blockmetrix Raises $43M Series B
⓾ TCU School of Medicine Is Building a New Campus in Fort Worth’s Medical District
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ BLOCKCHAIN PAYMENTS ACCELERATOR
Techstars just launched an accelerator in Fort Worth. Now it’s making news again.
The seed accelerator is partnering with Dallas-based MoneyGram and San Francisco’s Stellar Development Foundation on a new accelerator aimed at early-stage fintech startups.
The accelerator will specifically target tech that facilitates blockchain- and digital-based money transfers to and from Latin America. Each year for the next three years, the program will select up to 12 fintech startups for an immersive 13-week program.
As each class ends, the startups will present their visions to a curated group of fintech investors and stakeholders.
“As the fintech landscape rapidly evolves, we’re committed to utilizing our combined expertise in global digital payments, blockchain, and compliance to uncover new opportunities for global customers and enhance the existing financial system,” MoneyGram Chairman and CEO Alex Holmes said in a statement.
⓶ ‘A NEW ERA FOR AT&T’
Dallas-based AT&T is moving on from its sale of WarnerMedia to Discovery, Inc., with an updated strategy and financial outlook.
“Now that the close of the WarnerMedia deal is approaching, we’re near the starting line of a new era for AT&T,” CEO John Stankey said in a statement. “We will be a simpler, more focused company with the intent to become America’s best broadband provider.”
AT&T plans to ramp up investment in its key growth areas of “5G and fiber,” he added during his company’s 2022 Analyst & Investor Day.
“Today we are at the dawn of a new age of connectivity, and AT&T is positioned to take advantage of a strong and unique market opportunity that plays into the DNA of our company,” Stankey said. “With our assets, skills and valuable customer base, we’re ready to deliver as new business models requiring pervasive, high-performance connectivity continue to emerge.”
AT&T expects “low single-digit total revenue growth” for 2022, with capital investment in the $24 billion range, according to the statement.
⓷ HOSPITAL AT HOME
Plano-based NTT DATA Services has launched a new Hospital at Home solution to help U.S. healthcare systems expand care into patients’ homes.
“Currently, our healthcare systems are strained, struggling to meet the patient demand as well as maintain key staff,” said Lisa Esch, chief of strategy, innovation and provider industry solutions for NTT DATA Services, in a statement. “At the same time, consumers are demanding better, more personalized experiences. By expanding care into a patient’s home, healthcare systems will reduce the burden on their hospitals as well as provide a more personalized, dignified and private experience for patients.”
The U.S. division of Tokyo-based NTT DATA says it’s leveraging a simple and integrated digital system architecture that enables at-home care technologies to work seamlessly with the hospital.
“Moving care into the home requires thinking through a myriad of details and mastering new workflows in order to deliver the quality care at home that your patients require,” said Richard Swafford, Ph.D., NTT’s healthcare industry consulting director. “It’s achievable with today’s technology for those health systems that are willing, or needing, to take the next steps.”
⟫ Dallas-based Re-Teck, an electronic waste recycling company, has released a gaming app on IOS and Android targeting players ages 9 to 29, aiming to raise awareness of the 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste produced annually. Recycle Avengers (above) will be launched in over 120 schools nationwide, Re-Teck says, with kickoff events featuring the game’s characters, Kit and Bin. Re-Teck will place receptacles in libraries, schools and restaurants where players can deposit certain used electronics and scan QR codes to gain extra game points.
⟫ See the 2022 Corvette above? That’s how much the Dallas metro median home sale price rose in 2021 (+$65,000 to $380,000), according to a new Redfin report. But Dallas homes are still a bargain nationwide compared to other metros, including Austin—whose median home sale price jumped $116,338 to $484,840 in 2021. That price rise is higher than the cost of buying two Teslas (a Model S and Model Y), Redfin says.
⟫ Rhett Keisler, co-founder of Granbury-based Revolver Brewing, is launching a new CPG brand: canned, ready-to-drink Watertight Cocktails (above). Keisler co-founded the new enterprise with Ryan Baird, the co-founder of Yellow Rose Distilling. The brand launches exclusively in Texas later this month.
Thursday, March 10
⓵ BIOFUELED FREIGHT
After piloting battery-powered locomotives last year, Fort Worth freight railroad operator BNSF Railway is looking to test biofuels to power the trains on its tracks.
The company is teaming up with Pennsylvania-based Wabtec, which operates a million-square-foot factory that employs around 800 near Texas Motor Speedway and previously worked with BNSF on the battery technology.
Beginning in Q2 of this year, BNSF will run locomotives between Los Angeles and Barstow, Calif., testing a blend of biodiesel and renewable diesel. BNSF saw record earnings last year, with revenue totaling $22.5 billion as its trains carried 535 million tons of cargo over more than 143 million miles.
“Rail is already the most carbon-efficient mode of land freight transport, and the use of these lower carbon fuels is another means for BNSF to reduce its emissions and help meet its carbon reduction goal,” said John Lovenburg, VP of environment and sustainability at BNSF, in a statement.
⓶ DATA-DRIVEN POLICING
The Dallas Police Department is a finalist for a national “Smart Cities” award.
IDC Government Insights named finalists this week for the fifth annual Smart Cities North America Awards, which recognize progress in executing Smart Cities projects and a way to share best practices nationwide.
The DPD is one of three finalists in the nation for the Data-Driven Policing Award. It was cited for its “Violent Crime Evidence-Based Reduction Plan.”
This year’s Smart Cities Awards have 43 finalists in 14 categories. Only three other Texas finalists are on the list: Austin Drives Electric for Transportation Infrastructure; and Lake Cities Community Fiber and the City of Brownsville for Digital Equity and Accessibility.
IDC is inviting the public to vote for the finalists here through March 13. Winners will be announced at the Smart Cities Connect conference April 4-7 in Columbus, Ohio.
⓷ FUNDING FEMALE FOUNDERS
Honoring International Women’s Day this week, Dallas-based nonprofit accelerator Impact Ventures doled out funding to female founders at its HERGenius pitch competition.
Taking home the top prize of $5,000 was Kim Roxie, founder of Houston-based LAMIK Beauty, a “clean makeup” company for women of color. In second was Dominque Hamilton, founder of Mesquite’s Black Girl Magic Museum, who took home $2,500. And in third, with a prize of $1,000, was Di Di Payne-Kimbrough, founder of Ruby Roots Organic, a maker of organic and vegan hair care products for people with curly textures.
According to Impact Ventures Founder and CEO Benjamin Vann, the three companies will be accepted into the accelerator’s spring 2022 program, get invited to the organization’s Inclusive Capital Fund, and receive “perks” valued at around $50,000.
⟫ Dallas-based Drive Shack plans to open its largest Puttery location yet in New York City’s trendy Meatpacking District. The 26,600-square-foot venue near the 14th Street High Line entrance will have multiple levels with uniquely themed courses, a rooftop lounge, and several bars, with a chef-driven menu and specialty cocktails. You can check out the Puttery north of Dallas (above) in our story here.
⟫ Looking at three criteria—employer reputation, employee satisfaction, and growth—Forbes has released its fourth annual list of the best startup employers with at least 50 employees in the U.S. Two local firms have found their way to the top 500. The highest ranking of the two was Dallas-based digital life insurance startup Bestow, which took the No. 16 spot overall. And coming in at No. 290 was supply chain industry software provider Slync.io, which relocated to the region from California in 2020.
⟫ “Hyper-gig” internet speeds are coming to Texas. After rolling out its multi-gig-capable technology in January to 70 metro areas, AT&T Fiber said it has now expanded that to more than 100 metro areas across 21 states. As part of the expansion, the company will bring the technology to seven new metros in Texas, Oklahoma, and Ohio by the end of the year, with the goal of offering it to more than 30 million customers by the end of 2025. AT&T Fiber describes multi-gig technology as high-speed lanes on a freeway, opening avenues for different devices to run at their optimum speed.
Wednesday, March 9
⓵ STATE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Dallas’ State of Entrepreneurship event is tomorrow (Thursday) from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Moody Performance Hall in the downtown Arts District—and the first people through the door have a shot to win a prize.
The first 75 attendees will receive a copy of Dallas entrepreneur Nick Kennedy’s new book “The Good Entrepreneur.” Kennedy is the co-founder of Rise Air, which was acquired in 2017 by Santa Monica-based Surf Air, and serves as a mentor at Capital Factory.
Presented by Bank of America, the State of Entrepreneurship event highlights the launches, fundings, exits, and “overall wins” coming out of the North Texas startup ecosystem in the past year.
“These entrepreneurs are risk takers. That’s literally what the word entrepreneurship means,” Kennedy says in a video promoting the event (above). “Why is this important? Because everything good that we have has come from an entrepreneur taking a risk to make it better. So when we come together as a community to celebrate…we’re really coming together to say, ‘We’re here to support you, because I trust the work you’re doing is going to make my life better in the future.’”
⓶ INVESTING IN TEXAS
Austin’s S3 Ventures Managing Director Brian Smith believes “Texas could be the second-largest technology ecosystem in the country” by 2030—and his firm is looking to invest in the state’s next generation of startups.
The venture capital firm has raised a new $250 million fund—its seventh and largest—to invest in startups from seed to Series B in Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio.
S3 has $900 million in assets under management and typically makes investments from $500,000 to $10 million. Since forming in 2005, it’s made more than 50 investments and has 25 active portfolio companies. Dallas-based companies backed by S3 include fintech Alkami Technology, noise monitoring systems company NoiseAware, and online contractor marketplace IFM Restoration.
Growth in Texas “is being driven by long-term demographic shifts and broad-based economic strength of not just Austin, but also Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio,” Smith said in a statement.
⓷ ISLAND HEADS TO EUROPE
After launching at the beginning of February, a Dallas enterprise browser platform startup is already expanding its operations to the U.K. and beyond.
Island, which emerged from stealth last month with nearly $100 million in funding, has opened an office in Reading in southern England. To establish its U.K. presence, with eyes on expanding across Europe in the future, Island has tapped Ashley Brinsford, a former VP at Forescout Technologies, as its new head of EMEA sales.
Built on the open-sourced browser project Chromium, which supports other big names like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, the startup’s Enterprise Browser provides organizations with built-in cybersecurity measures, while being accessible on users’ own devices. The company says it already has a little over 100 employees and counts “several” Fortune 500s as clients.
“We’re seeing tremendous interest from European customers and partners who want to get their hands on this game-changing technology, so we accelerated our expansion into the European market and are hitting the ground running,” said Mike Fey, Island co-founder and CEO, in a statement.
⟫ Since expanding to Dallas in 2019, Kodiak Robotics has been doing autonomous freight trucking runs between North Texas and Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Now it says it’s the first autonomous trucking company to hit the road in Oklahoma. In a partnership with French supply chain management firm CEVA Logistics, Kodiak is running a route from DFW to Oklahoma City. The announcement is the first time Kodiak has acknowledged a customer’s name. As TechCrunch notes, while Kodiak is smaller than other players in the industry in terms of funding—having raised a $125 million Series B in November—the move signals that Kodiak is further down its path to commercialization.
⟫ Ever want to do a background check before swiping right on a match? Now you can. Dallas-based dating app giant Match Group has rolled out technology from New York nonprofit Garbo that allows users to run a background check for a small fee before matching with someone. The tech will be rolled out on Tinder first, with launches on other Match portfolio brands in the future. The move follows Match’s “significant contribution” to Garbo last March.
⟫ The local chapter of High-Tech High Heels, a nonprofit focused on STEM education for young women and preparation for tech careers, has unveiled the latest recipients of its grant program. The organization said that the selected North Texas nonprofit recipients will provide activities and training to more than 1,600 girls combined. Recipients include Design Connect Create; the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity; After-School All-Stars; Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas; Friends of Solar Prep; Girls Interested in Engineering, Mathematics and Science; Aggie STEM; Girlstart; and the Bishop Arts Theatre Center.
Monday, March 7
⓵ INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
To honor International Women’s Day, Neiman Marcus Group announced today its support for the next generation of women leaders, through partnerships with Runway of Dreams and Boss Beauties.
NMG will also do in-store and online activations to highlight and celebrate female leaders, designers, and entrepreneurs all month long during Women’s History Month.
NMG is joining forces with Boss Beauties, a women-led global initiative and NFT project, to unveil its new “Role Models” NFT collection, including an NFT portrait of Neiman Marcus Co-Founder Carrie Marcus Neiman (above right).
All Neiman Marcus stores will be hosting women’s leadership panels this month, as well. Over 100 women will be on the panels, including Academy Award-nominated actress, screenwriter, and director Maggie Gyllenhaal, FASHIONPHILE Founder Sarah Davis, emerging designer Autumn Adeigbo, Okta Chief of Staff Angela Grady, and “A Girl Named Carrie” author and daughter of Stanley Marcus, Jerrie Marcus Smith, among others.
⓶ NOT-SO-SECRET SPEAKEASY
SOVA, a boutique hotel in downtown Dallas, has a new speakeasy. And while it’s not a total secret, it does take being in the know to get in.
The speakeasy will offer a “sneak-peek” tomorrow night.
Called Room 520, the bar has seating for only about 25 people to sip from a small menu of Japan-inspired cocktails, reports Dallas CultureMap. It will be open Thursday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. To get in, you’ll need to “check in” to room 520 at the front desk, then go to the third floor to locate the room, which looks like the door to any other guest room.
SOVA, which bills itself as an “international travel experience,” was opened last year by globe-hopping twin brothers Blake Shirk and Brandon Shirk (above). Guests stay in “micro-rooms” in exchange for access to luxurious elements sourced from around the world at a lower rate. Geared toward frequent travelers, the hostel-meets-luxury model provides group spaces, curated travel itineraries, and daily activity recommendations.
Among other amenities, the hotel features “cutting-edge Japanese robotic toilets” that wash, dry, heat, and have a nightlight.
⓷ FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW
A UTA researcher has received a patent for his responsive footwear technology that prevents the development of diabetic foot ulcers—a leading cause of amputation worldwide.
Due to numbness in their legs and feet, people with diabetes are often unable to detect and respond to stress-related pain by adjusting their weight on their feet.
The team that developed the tech was led by Muthu Wijesundara, principal research scientist and head of the Division of Biomedical Technologies at the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute.
The removable insole works by periodically regulating and redistributing pressure across all areas of the foot. Using fluid-filled cells, the dual-layer apparatus provides variability in a person’s foot loading patterns, reducing prolonged pressure to any given area. The insole automatically adjusts without user intervention.
⟫ Dallas’ Jaunt Air Mobility will be working with L&T Technology Services as an essential engineering partner for its Jaunt Journey eVTOL aircraft (above). Montreal-based L&T will offer end-to-end engineering support in structural design analysis and certification for the Journey, which takes off like a helicopter and transitions to flying like a fixed-wing plane using patented Slowed-Rotor Compound technology. The single-pilot aircraft will carry four passengers, offering urban air mobility, cargo delivery, military missions, and medical transport.
⟫ Innovation rolls out of North Texas, too. Dallas-based NGV Global Group, a manufacturing and logistics company that utilizes advanced natural gas technology to reduce carbon emissions, has developed what it calls a “trailblazing” line of Ford F-650 box trucks that operate on compressed natural gas and renewable natural gas. The trucks maximize load volume without requiring a commercial driver’s license—offering a turnkey solution to address the nationwide shortage of CDL truck drivers while helping the environment and avoiding rising diesel costs.
⟫ MITRE, a nonprofit based in McLean, Virginia, and Bedford, Massachusetts, operates federally funded R&D centers focused on tech and innovation. Today it announced it’s joining Capital Factory’s Innovation Council, which connects the world’s largest companies to startups across Texas. MITRE opened a regional innovation center (iHub) in Austin last year to connect Texas startups to the federal marketplace.
Monday, March 7
⓵ TECHFW AWARD WINNERS
From electric vehicle charging equipment to tech that helps cattle ropers hone their craft, local startups were honored at TechFW’s Impact Showcase & Awards event last week at Arlington’s Globe Life Field.
At the annual event, the Fort Worth-based incubator and accelerator handed out awards to multiple companies that have gone through its program—marking the event’s return since being put on pause by the pandemic in 2020.
Meet the winners:
Impact Award: Eosera (Fort Worth)—a maker of over-the-counter ear care products available at retailers across the U.S..
Rising Star Awards:
• Revitalize Charging Solutions (Fort Worth)—an electric vehicle charging equipment company.
• Chute Help (Carbon, Tx.)—an automated roping chute manufacturer.
• AyuVis Research (Fort Worth)—a preclinical pharmaceutical firm focused on the chronic lung disease bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
⓶ NO. 3 IN TECH JOBS LISTINGS
Across the country, opportunities in the tech industry continue to increase—and the Dallas area remains a top hub for that action.
The Dallas region added nearly 3,800 new tech job postings last month, bringing its total postings to around 18,600 and ranking it No. 3 among metro areas with the highest amount of job openings in the sector, according to analysis from tech industry nonprofit CompTIA. Dallas Metro has held the No. 3 spot since August 2021.
That put the Dallas area behind only New York (No. 1) and Washington, D.C. (No. 2), both of which added less than half the amount of tech jobs in February than the DFW region did. Overall, only the Los Angeles area added more tech jobs openings last month than DFW, with a nearly 4,500 posting increase. Read more in our story here.
⓷ LOAN LIFE CYCLE
Westlake-based defi SOLUTIONS has introduced a single end-to-end solution for the entire auto and personal lending lifecycle.
defi’s “unified, modern, cloud-based capability” follows the design and build standards of its ORGANIZATIONS offering, the company says.
“We do not have a single competitor whose products and services encompass the complete lifecycle of our clients and their customers, the borrowers,” said Tom Allanson, defi SOLUTIONS CEO (above left by chief strategy officer Charles Sutherland), in a statement. “We’re in a unique position to add more value to our targeted market participants.”
⟫ HGTV’s “No Demo Reno,” hosted by local entrepreneur/blogger Jenn Todryk (above), is now casting for homeowners in North Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Allen, Fairview, Prosper, Richardson, Frisco, and Lucas, reports Culturemap Dallas. They must have an existing budget from $20K to $100K and be willing to vacate during the six- to eight-week remodel.
⟫ Dallas-Fort Worth native Syndie Stephens, an 18-year-old singer-songwriter, has had her song “Tragedy Strikes” turned into a music video by 16-year-old director Morgan Gullett. Shot primarily underwater, the music video will have its world premiere screening at the 13th New Media Film Festival in L.A. on June 2.
⟫ South Dallas-based Viola’s House provides maternity housing and support services for expectant teen mothers. Saturday it opened its Baby Benefit Boutique, where mothers of kids under 3 can shop for free through a voucher-based program. “It’s hard enough that you need a voucher to shop,” founder and executive Thana Hickman-Simmons told the Dallas Morning News. “We don’t want them to feel like that. We want them to have self esteem while educating themselves. We call it ‘earn while you learn.’”
Friday, March 4
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ SMU Study Uses Drones and Machine Learning to Find ‘Infrastructure Desert’ Neighborhoods in Dallas
⓶ Made in America: Aiming to Make Fort Worth a Hub of ‘Energy 2.0,’ Electric Motor Maker Launches Production with $17M Funding
⓷ Real Estate Tech Startup Nada Relocates Dallas HQ as it Looks to Quadruple Headcount
⓸ North Texas Blockchain Gaming Developer Worldspark Studios Lands $3M for Metaverse Platform
⓹ New Dallas Regional Chamber VP of Innovation: ‘We’re only getting stronger’
⓺ UT Southwestern’s New School of Public Health Lands $100M Gift—One of the Largest for a Public School of Its Kind
⓻ The Dallas Foundation Awards More Than $1.3M to 25 Local Nonprofits
⓼ Last-Mile Delivery Startup Names New CEO After Being Founder-Led Since 2014
⓽ Dallas’ Alternative Fuel Trucker GreenPath Logistics Orders 50 Electric/Natural Gas ‘Hypertrucks
⓾ Dallas Fintech Startup Deposits.com Emerges From Stealth to ‘Democratize Banking’
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ ‘UBER OF LARGE GROUPS’
Fetii—which calls itself the “the world’s first group rideshare platform”—plans to roll into Dallas later this year.
The startup was founded in 2020 by CEO Matthew Iommi and CTO Justin Rath (above), and currently operates in Austin, College Station, and Lubbock. According to Forbes, Iommi got the idea as a senior at Texas A&M when he and a friend were operating an event shuttle business.
Fetii’s 15-passenger vans allow groups to go places together instead of splitting into multiple vehicles, at an average cost of $5 per person per ride.
“We can generate three times the revenue [of a typical ride share trip] in one Fetii trip because we can put in more passengers while still maintaining the cost of the trip,” Iommi told Forbes. He says Fetii also reduces traffic and CO2 emissions, by reducing the number of cars groups might otherwise take from A to B.
The startup has raised nearly $250,000 of its $500,000 goal on WeFunder. You can read more in our story here.
⓶ CODING BOOTCAMP HITS BIG D
Tech Elevator, an “intensive educational provider” that helps people and companies gain tech skills for the modern workforce, has opened a new campus in Dallas’ Preston Center.
Students will be able to access Tech Elevator’s “world-class instructors” through its online bootcamp, with in-person support from a career coach and supporting instructional staff.
They’ll also be able to meet with other students for paired programming, whiteboarding sessions, one-on-one meetings with staff, and game night socials.
“We’ve seen great success in launching tech careers in Dallas,” said Anthony Hughes, Tech Elevator’s CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “Now that we have a physical presence in Dallas, even more students can take advantage of Tech Elevator’s program.”
The coding bootcamp says it’s placed more than 2,000 students in tech jobs at over 600 companies. It has six other campuses in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Wilmington, in addition to its National Live Remote program serving students online nationwide.
⓷ SPRAWLING NEW DATA CENTER
Verizon Wireless is building a sprawling new data center campus on Highway 114 in Southlake.
The company aims to build five data center halls in the 200,000-square-foot campus, which will take up about 24 acres next door to its existing facility, the Dallas Morning News reports.
The campus was designed by Dallas architecture firm HKS.
The data center market has been booming in Dallas-Fort Worth. The local market had “the most active quarter of leasing of all time” in Q4 2021, according to a CBRE market flash.
Thursday, March 3
⓵ PLASMA REACTOR RECYCLING
Commercializing tech from Princeton researchers, a processing line at a McKinney plant has gone from reclaiming gold from circuit boards to giving used lithium-ion batteries new life.
New Jersey-based Princeton NuEnergy, a battery recycling company, has been working with Wistron GreenTech, the electronics recycling-focused subsidiary of Taiwan’s Wistron Corporation, since October to pilot its novel lithium-ion recycling technology at Wistron’s McKinney facility. Now the companies are looking to ramp up production by recycling at least a ton of batteries per day this year.
Using a plasma reactor, Princeton NuEnergy’s tech separates cathode and anode materials, removing contamination from battery use and effectively renewing the cathode. The company then adds small amounts of lithium back into the cathode powder, creating cheaper materials and reducing the use of minerals like cobalt, nickel, and magnesium.
Princeton NuEnergy says it aims to expand beyond consumer electronic batteries into the electric vehicle space, in addition to exploring entry into the battery-manufacturing business.
“Scaleup is always a challenge. It’s one thing to do it in a beaker, and another thing doing it in a vat the size of your office,” said Bruce Koel, co-founder and technology advisor of Princeton NuEnergy, in an interview with the university. “We can’t do this fast by ourselves. Wistron had an empty manufacturing line and so they were very interested in hearing our proposal.”
⓶ INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
International Women’s Day is Tuesday, March 8—and to celebrate, the BioNTX Foundation is organizing a “Women Driving Innovation” event at Pegasus Park.
In collaboration with Women in Healthcare and Women in Bio, the event will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at 3000 Pegasus Park Drive in Dallas.
The evening of networking will feature a panel discussion about women’s contributions to life sciences and health care innovation in Texas, plus future trends and the migration of life sciences to North Texas.
Panelists will include (above from left to right) UNTHSC’s Sylvia Trent-Adams, McKesson’s Elaine Murphy, UNT’s Shalini Prasad, and JLL’s Carly Kiernan.
Tickets are $45 for BioNTX, WIH, and WIB members and $60 for non-members, and can be reserved here.
⓷ DRIVING STEM POSSIBILITIES
Based on the success seen at a West Dallas school, Toyota is investing $110 million to take its STEM-focused educational model across the country.
The Toyota USA Foundation announced the launch of a new education and community-focused initiative called Driving Possibilities. It’s based on the success seen at the West Dallas Stem School—supported by around $5 million in donations from Toyota and a collaboration between Dallas ISD and SMU.
Now Toyota is taking the STEM-focused educational model across the country, to help prepare students in pre-K through 12th grade for the workforce, while providing a variety of other community engagement activities. Read more in our story here.
⟫ It hasn’t been the best year to be in the live events business—but Addison-based Ultimate Ventures made the most of it. The company won two 2022 ADMEI Achievement Awards for Best Overall Meeting and Best Décor/Design at the annual destination management conference in Boston. The décor/design award was for its “Wildflower Welcome” (above), created for a three-day pharmaceutical meeting in an underground ballroom.
⟫ It’s not spring yet—but spring home buying season has definitely set in. Realtor.com‘s Monthly Housing Trends Report shows the U.S. median home listing price hit a new all-time high of $392,000 in February, up 12.9% year-over-year. The median price in Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro was even higher at $404,000—a year-over-year increase of 12.5%.
⟫ The economic impacts or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are reverberating in North Texas. Southlake’s Sabre Corporation (above), one of the largest software providers to the travel industry, has cut ties with Aeroflot—Russia’s largest government-owned airline. The company announced all Aeroflot flight content has been removed from Sabre’s global distribution system, the platform that connects travel bookers with suppliers. According to Jon Ostrower, an industry expert and editor-in-chief of The Air Current, Sabre is “the IT backbone on which Aeroflot runs.” He added, “No Sabre, no reservations. No reservations, no airline.”
Wednesday, March 2
⓵ ENERGY-SAVING FLOW
Dallas-based Flowserve has launched its new Energy Advantage program—a holistic flow control approach aimed at helping global infrastructure companies reach carbon reduction goals and lower ownership costs.
“As the world transitions to cleaner forms of energy and focuses on lowering carbon emissions, we too are focused on making a more sustainable future for our planet,” president and CEO Scott Rowe said in a statement. “Our Energy Advantage program provides a tangible way we can help our customers increase their energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and drive long-term sustainability.”
Recently, four of the pumps included in the program were installed to support a refinery’s conversion to a renewable fuels facility, which will yield 34% improved energy consumption, saving the customer 7,600 tons of CO2 per year, added Energy Advantage VP Rob Vitello. “These tangible results are at the core of this new offering, and we look forward to working with our customers to find the best fit for their needs.”
⓶ RAZER-SHARP SPONSOR
Dallas-based esports powerhouse Envy Gaming has inked a multi-year peripherals sponsorship with California-based Razer, a leading global lifestyle brand for gamers.
Razer is being integrated across all aspects of Envy including Razer branding and logos on OpTic and Envy team jersey sleeves and everything from headsets to keyboards to gaming chairs for Envy talent, creators, and teams. Future activations could extend across digital and physical properties, including content integrations, sponsorship of creator-led streams including OpTic Warzone tournaments, exclusive product drops, and creator appearances at RazerStore locations worldwide.
Razer will also activate at live North Texas esports events, beginning when OpTic Texas hosts the first Call of Duty League major LAN tournament of the season on March 3-6 at Esports Stadium Arlington.
“Bringing together innovators and industry leaders is core to what we believe will propel esports and gaming further into mainstream culture and entertainment,” Envy CEO Adam Rymer said in a statement. “Adding a global leader of Razer’s caliber across all Envy and OpTic teams and creators gives great payoff to the culture and audience cultivation we’re building today and for the future.”
⓷ ‘SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT’
Only about 1% of venture capital dollars go to Black founders. But Kanarys is breaking through that barrier, with Co-founder and CEO Mandy Price being one of only around 50 Black women to raise more than $1 million. Now more funding is coming in.
The Dallas-based startup, which offers a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) platform for organizations to tackle systemic issues in their workforce, is partnering up with CRM software firm HubSpot to help improve DEI initiatives to HubSpot’s 135,000 customers. In addition, and while not disclosing the amount, the company has made a “significant investment” in Kanarys.
HubSpot customers will now have access to Kanarys’ proprietary platform, which helps companies identify blind spots and areas of growth. Kanarys will also provide resources like online guidebooks and toolkits by experts in the DEI field to help company leaders “implement lasting change.”
The new investment adds to the at least $4.6 million in funding Kanarys has raised since launching in 2019. Its other backers include Zeal Capital Partners, Morgan Stanley, and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.
“Companies of all sizes are beginning to understand that DEI has real business implications with its ties to innovation, performance, employee retention, and more,” Price said in a statement. “One of the first steps to an impactful DEI program is knowing where to start in order to dismantle the inequities hidden in existing policies, procedures, and practices.”
⟫ We already have electrified shuffleboard in Deep Ellum and a massive soccer entertainment venue coming to the Dallas Design District. So why not a football-bowling experience in Plano? Fowling Warehouse (rhymes with bowling) already has five locations in the U.S. Now local entrepreneur Connor Ligon is bringing one to the 71,000-square-foot former Smith Systems warehouse in East Plano, reports CultureMap Dallas.
⟫ Local telecom giant AT&T and IBM, which also has operations in the region, have partnered to create simulated environments of 5G network abilities for enterprise clients. Locally, the two are collaborating at the AT&T 5G Innovation Studio in Plano to apply AI and machine learning to 5G and IoT networks. At IBM’s Bethesda Lab in Maryland, the two have established a simulation center aimed at 5G solutions for public sector clients. According to AT&T, the two companies have collaborated on tech solutions for the past 20 years.
⟫ Target has announced plans to invest up to $5 billion on its growth this year. Part of that will be spent on a new “sortation” center in Dallas, which will help it organize online orders for local deliveries. Houston, Austin, Atlanta, and Miami are also getting sortation centers. According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, the move comes as the company is investing in more digital services. Target will also be remodeling 200 retail stores and building 30 new stores this year.
Tuesday, March 1
⓵ ULTRA-LOW CARBON FUELS
Plano-based energy company Denbury has entered into a strategic alliance with Infinium, the Sacramento, California-based clean fuels innovator.
The firms say they will collaborate on developing ultra-low carbon fuels projects in the state of Texas. Infinium’s electrofuels facilities being developed in Brazoria County, south of Houston, will convert renewable power into green hydrogen and combine it with industrial-sourced CO2 to produce ultra-low carbon fuels, using Infinium’s proprietary tech.
“Infinium’s ultra-low carbon intensity electrofuels produced using industrial-sourced CO2 will provide a powerful tool to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation in our country and the world,” said Chris Kendall, Denbury’s president and CEO, in a statement.
⓶ EXPLORING DALLAS
Uber rolled out its new “Explore” feature in Dallas today, enabling users to book restaurant reservations, view local events, and buy concert and event tickets directly through its app.
The features will live within the new Uber Explores tab, and also include “one-click rides” to pre-populated destinations. The feature is also going live to day in 13 other U.S. cities, plus Mexico City.
Within Explore, users will see personalized recommendations and reviews based on their past app usage, from restaurants to nightlife, music, and more. Payments can be made directly through the feature via a user’s Uber Wallet & Payment profile.
“We’ve built Uber Explore to take our customers beyond the ride,” Adib Roumani, product lead for Uber Explore, said in a statement.
Uber says it will expand Explore to more cities in the coming weeks and months, “along with more event opportunities and experiences offerings.”
⓷ STARGAZERS ALERT
Elon Musk’s satellite-based internet network is now serving the people of Ukraine, after Starlink base stations arrived in the war-torn country last night.
But not everyone’s happy with the rapidly increasing number of satellites that are brightening the night skies—including Krista Lynne Smith, an observational astrophysicist at SMU.
Smith says that without more regulation, satellite constellations like Musk’s SpaceX “could rob us of our ability to see real stars in the next decade.” Heavy satellite traffic could also put astronomy research in danger, she adds.
“Humanity’s view of the true night sky will be cut off,” Smith warned in a statement. “No human born after this decade will be able to see it.”
Approximately 100,000 of these satellites will be in low-Earth orbit in the next 10 years, according to what’s been announced by companies worldwide, SMU says. Last Friday alone, SpaceX launched 50 more satellites.
Smith is urging state and federal lawmakers to support policies recommended by astronomers, environmental scientists, and industry groups.
⟫ Plano-based G.O.A.T. Fuel—the official drink of the Los Angeles Lakers—could soon be hitting Target shelves in the Dallas region. The health-focused energy drink maker, which stands for “greatest of all time,” landed an expanded partnership deal with the retail giant that will see its line of mushroom-, green tea- and caffeine-infused beverages on select shelves in Texas, as well as in California, Mississippi, and Florida. Launched in 2019 by NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and his family, the startup had raised a total of $3.1 million in seed funding as of last summer.
⟫ The Dallas metro region remains No. 1 in small-business hiring—a position it’s held for the past six months. That’s according to the Paychex/IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch report, which looked at data from the 20 largest metro areas in the country. The report also notes Dallas ranked No. 9 in small business wage earnings, with an average $29.61 per hour. Nationally, the job index remained steady in January at 101.33, marking a 7.8% 12-month improvement.
⟫ Dallas-based Symphony RetailAI’s SaaS-based micro and macro space optimization solutions will now be used Rimi Baltic, part of Sweden’s ICA Group and one of the largest grocery retailers in the Baltic States with nearly 300 stores. “By leveraging Symphony RetailAI’s AI combined with the art of space management, what will finally be presented is the perfect offer, creating more customer-centric shopping experiences,” Rimi Baltic executive Kaspars Karasevskis said in a statement.
⟫ Plano-based Tyler Technologies is now serving law enforcement agencies across the entire state of North Carolina, producing 23,000 electronic citations weekly. Tyler’s Enforcement Mobile solution offers a fully automated citation process, allowing officers to transmit data directly from their patrol cars so it can be accessed by court users statewide.
Monday, February 28
⓵ VERY CLEAN EXPANSION
About 34 million more bottles of laundry and fabric care products will be flowing out of Garland each year, thanks to a company expansion.
Zobele USA, the U.S. subsidiary of the global consumer goods company, is planning a $30 million expansion of its facilities in the city, with the aid of economic incentives from Garland.
The investment will allow the company to add 76,000 square feet to its existing 165,000-square-foot leased building, as well as adding two new production lines and one new packing line. To staff those lines, it’s looking to add around 150 new jobs and invest $18 million in new machinery.
Zobele set up shop in Garland in 2018, adding to the Canadian-based firm’s presence in eight countries.
“We greatly appreciate the city’s partnership and involvement with us on this project,” said Ken Sundstrom, financial controller at Zobele Group, in a statement.
⓶ ADVANCED ENERGY SOLUTIONS
Dallas-based Parks Associates is hosting the 13th annual Smart Energy Summit Monday, February 28, through Wednesday, March 2, at the Omni Hotel in Frisco.
The in-person summit is focused on the impact of direct consumer participation in energy markets, along with strategies to increase consumer engagement in energy management solutions.
Keynote speakers will explore the role of connected devices in the home; the impact that new renewable resources and electric vehicles are having on the grid; and how utility and energy players are driving active participation in energy management solutions.
Speakers include Aaron Berndt, Google’s head of energy industry partnerships for the Americas; Samudra Sen, VP of Vistra and TXU Solutions at TXU Energy; James Jackson, director of energy and utility partnerships at Emerson; and executives with AutoGrid and Constellation Energy.
The summit will also feature virtual sessions on April 7, June 30, August 4, and November 17. You can find more info here.
⓷ SEEING GROWTH ON ALL SIDES
Trinity Private Equity Group has a new name and is looking to grow in 2022.
Fresh off of rebranding to Trinity Investors, the Southlake-based firm is looking to more than double its footprint with new offices and expand its team by around 25%, the Dallas Business Journal reports.
While the company is only moving down the street from its current location, the move will add about 13,000 square feet of new space. The move comes after Trinity invested more than $2 billion last year, largely in real estate deals but including investments in operating companies. It’s looking to top that this year, aiming to invest between $2.6 billion and $2.9 billion.
Partner Sanjay Chandra partially attributes the firm’s success to an increase of individual investors and non-institutions increasingly entering the commercial real estate and private equity spaces.
“We built a platform that allows us to be investors and allows our friends and family to be investors. So we’re all co-investors, we’re all in it together,” Chandra told the DBJ.
Friday, February 25
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ How Dallas-Fort Worth Became a Top-Tier Real Estate Market
⓶ Dallas Metro Ranks No. 1 in U.S. for Real Estate Development Over the Past 10 Years
⓷ Public-Private Partners Bring Global Investment Platform Techstars to Fort Worth, Name Managing Director
⓸ SMU Study Uses Drones and Machine Learning to Find ‘Infrastructure Desert’ Neighborhoods in Dallas
⓹ Fueled by a $132M Series B Raise, Indian Automation Startup Expands to North America with Frisco Offices
⓺ SMU Wins National Innovation Award for Teaching Artists How Not to Starve—by Becoming Entrepreneurs
⓻ Irving Firm Solves a Remote Worker Conundrum: Verifying ID Documents
⓼ Alphabet-Backed Vertical Farming Startup Plans New Site in Arlington
⓽ ‘Driving Nannies’: Tech-Enabled Rideshare Service for Kids Ramps Up in Dallas
⓾ Irving-Based Cysiv Sees Record Growth as Demand Rises for SOC-as-a-Service
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ FIRESIDE APP HEATS UP
Mark Cuban is looking to launch a “next-gen podcast platform” this year. And it’s currently in talks to raise new funding.
According to Tech Crunch, which cites sources familiar with the matter, Cuban-owned and -backed Fireside is currently raising a $25 million Series A funding round at a $125 million valuation.
The platform, which allows users to make, distribute, and monetize conversations, has already raised around $8 million from backers including The Chainsmokers and NFL players Larry Fitzgerald and Kelvin Beachum. Tech Crunch reports Fireside will also have a play in the web3 and metaverse space, including launching non-fungible tokens and exploring the creation of a decentralized autonomous organization.
Joining Cuban on the launch of Fireside is Co-founder and CEO Falon Fatemi, a former Google alum and co-founder of Node, a customer intelligence startup that was acquired by SugarCRM in 2020.
“The future of entertainment is interactive,” it states on the Mark Cuban Companies’ website. “Fireside gives creators the unprecedented power to distribute shows everywhere with the click of a button, understand what their audiences want more of with sophisticated analytics and connect with those audiences in real time. The next media empires are emerging on Fireside.”
⓶ ‘SHIPTING’ SLURPEES
Target-owned on-demand grocery delivery app Shipt is teaming up with Irving-based 7-Eleven and pharmacy chain Walgreens, allowing users to order things from over-the-counter meds to snacks and Slurpees.
Delivery of more than 3,000 7-Eleven items will be available at nearly 6,500 of the company’s stores nationwide, the company said.
Birmingham-based Shipt, which was bought by Target in 2016 for $500 million, said the move will increase its store coverage across the country by more than 40%.
⓷ WEARABLE ACQUISITION
Irving-based Kimberly-Clark Corporation has acquired a majority stake in New York-based Thinx, a maker of period underwear that was named No. 1 last year by NBC Select.
Kimberly-Clark initially took a minority stake in Thinx, which has raised around $25 million in outside funding, in 2019.
According to Thinx CEO Maria Molland, the move is “fitting,” given that “Kimberly-Clark invented the ‘femcare’ category 100 years ago and Thinx invented the ‘femtech’ category nine years ago.”
Alison Lewis, chief growth officer for Kimberly-Clark, believes the brand has key attributes for success. “The Thinx value proposition is particularly meaningful because it’s rooted in purpose and consumer need,” she said in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Thinx to bring these breakthrough products to more people and accelerate growth in this category.”
⟫ CARBON CAPTURE
Irving-based ExxonMobil says it will invest an estimated $400 million to expand carbon capture and storage at its LaBarge, Wyoming, facility—which has “captured more CO2 than any other facility in the world to date.”
The LaBarge facility already captures nearly 20% of all human-made CO2 captured in the world each year, ExxonMobil says.
“Carbon capture and storage is a readily available technology that can play a critical role in helping society reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Joe Blommaert, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, in a statement. “By expanding carbon capture and storage at LaBarge, we can reduce emissions from our operations and continue to demonstrate the large-scale capability for carbon capture and storage to address emissions from vital sectors of the global economy, including industrial manufacturing.”
ExxonMobil says it plans to invest $3 billion on lower emission energy solutions through 2025.
The expansion project will capture up to 1.2 million metric tons of CO2, on top of the 6 to 7 million metric tons already being captured at LaBarge each year. The expansion is part of the company’s 2030 emission-reduction plans and supports the company’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) for its operated assets by 2050.
⟫ While still allowing workers to come into the office as they choose, Curtis Hite, CEO of tech management and consulting firm Improving, is banking on transforming the company’s physical presence to encourage more in-person collaboration. According to the Dallas Business Journal, the company is expanding its Plano offices by about 4,000 square feet, up to a total of 15,000 square feet. The move comes as Improving looks to add about 200 new employees to its more than 1,300-person workforce over the next year. Hite also said the company is seeing increased demand from customers, potentially propelling its revenue to $250 million this year.
⟫ Rockwall-based 5G LLC says “rooftops are the next generation cell towers,” with 5G rollouts requiring hundreds of thousands of new cell site locations across the U.S. Now it’s partnering with global professional services firm Aon to get 5G infrastructure on building rooftops worldwide—capturing new revenue for the properties’ owners. The companies say they’re working with some of the world’s largest institutional and private real estate owners, with thousands of properties and portfolios under agreement. “Real estate owners run the risk of missing out on amenity benefits, significant revenue, or getting unfavorable terms if they aren’t partnered with the right thought leaders who have negotiated with wireless carriers and can navigate the process from beginning to end,” 5G LLC SVP Rick Varnell said in a statement.
⟫ Americans nationwide are watching news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In response, Dallas-based AT&T announced today it is “supporting efforts to keep our customers connected to their loved ones during the recent events in Ukraine.” Beginning February 26, 2022, through March 7, 2022, AT&T is offering its U.S. customers unlimited long distance calling from the U.S. to Ukraine. The offer is valid for all consumer and business AT&T postpaid and prepaid wireless customers, as well as consumer VoIP and landline customers.
Thursday, February 24
⓵ TELEHEALTH REBRAND
McKinney-based telehealth startup MyTelemedicine is rebranding its service arm under a new name: Lyric Health.
The virtual care service launched in 2015 and saw fast growth during the pandemic. It now serves a network of over 750 physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and dermatologists, and serves over four million customers nationwide.
The company says its rebrand aims to “better serve patients and clinicians with the tools they need to provide end-to-end virtual care services, ultimately providing a better experience.”
“Telemedicine as we’ve known it is no longer the same, and the pandemic really pushed it front and center,” the company’s founder and CEO, Rey Colon (above), said in a statement. “We’re trying to take an antiquated system and leverage technology, placing it at the forefront to put the power of health in people’s hands.”
The startup will keep the name MyTelemedicine as the “presence and resource” for the tech stack that powers Lyric Health, enabling hospital systems, health carriers, and healthcare providers across the U.S. to create their own seamless, branded virtual care solutions with custom workflows.
⓶ VR MEETS PHYSICAL THERAPY
A Dallas-based virtual reality company is using its tech to help with physical therapy.
MyndVR, a senior-focused health and wellness VR content platform, is expanding the use of its tech beyond providing immersive experiences via a new partnership with Illinois-based contract rehabilitation services company Select Rehabilitation.
Through the partnership, providers at Select’s network of more than 2,400 facilities will be able to access speech and physical therapy VR content. For example, MyndVR Co-founder and CEO Chris Brickler said a patient recovering from a stroke could enter a simulated kitchen, re-learning how to manipulate everyday objects in a safe and calming environment.
MyndVR operates in nearly every state, in addition to Canada and Australia. Brickler told Dallas Innovates the company has more partnership announcements on the way. He added that his more than 20-person firm tripled its revenue last year and is looking to raise a $5 million Series A funding round this year. So far, the company has raised about $4.4 million since launching in 2016.
MyndVR’s announcement comes on the heels of Techstars bringing its accelerator program to Fort Worth to focus on physical therapy.
“This is really a beautiful evolution of the MyndVR platform,” Brickler said. “It’s a major partnership that represents a tremendous amount of growth opportunity for MyndVR.”
⓷ DATA CENTER TRAINING
Addison-based BCS Data Center Operations has launched BCS Mission Critical Academy, a program designed to attract, train, and develop data center operators across a range of high-demand professions—including facility management engineering, IT services, and physical security.
The launch addresses a growing supply-and-demand gap for highly skilled workers required to operate and protect mission-critical facilities and infrastructure.
BCS says it’s building a 20,000-square-foot technical training center at its Addison campus, which will feature mini-data center lab environments and offer hands-on training and certification capabilities. The first phase is under construction now, with further buildout slated over the next 12 to 18 months, pending infrastructure availability.
The new program is an entry-level, “grow your own,” workforce talent-development portal and feeder system. Its curriculum tracks range from a few weeks up to 12 months, with in-person, instructor-led classroom training and partner-training combined with online certification programs. In the field, the on-the-job training is tailored to each participant’s chosen career path.
“The program addresses what our industry is characterizing as a ‘war on talent’ by leveraging our industry-leading People Services and Corporate Technical Services teams while reinforcing our strong belief that people are this industry’s most valuable assets,” BCS founder and CEO Danny Crocker said in a statement.
⟫ Irving-based 7-Eleven is collaborating with Rocket League—a popular sports-action video game that mixes arcade-style soccer with vehicular mayhem. The team-up features exclusive in-game 7-Eleven customization items, including Blue ROCKETberry Slurpee whose cup changes color on contact with a cold drink and is topped with a Rocket League ball as a lid. The best part: 7-Eleven fans will have the opportunity to help design and win a Model 711 car in real life—by choosing everything from its wrap design, rim color, seat design, custom grill, snack holders, and scent, simply by voting on social media.
⟫ Grapevine hospitality-focused investment firm NewcrestImage is looking to diversify while bringing more ghost kitchen concepts to the U.S. According to the Dallas Morning News, the firm made an investment in Singapore-based startup TiffinLabs, which develops and launches the delivery-only concepts—and it’s looking to launch more than 1,000 this year. Terms of the deal were undisclosed, but it makes NewcrestImage the company’s second-largest stakeholder. TiffinLabs was launched in 2019 and opened a new brand each month in its first year. In 2021 it expanded to the U.S., where NewcrestImage will help it grow in the hospitality industry.
⟫ Plano-based Toyota North America is getting new bX4X EV owners all charged up—literally. The company is giving buyers or leasers of its new EV one year of free charging on the nationwide EVgo charger network. Locals can take part too: L.A.-based EVgo has at least 17 charging locations in the Dallas area.
⟫ Plano’s Aiden Technologies is looking to provide cybersecurity cover to the remote workforce. Using Microsoft Autopilot and Azure technology, the autonomous endpoint security managed services provider is launching a cloud-enablement tool that allows IT teams to remotely update computers and monitor cybersecurity risks of their workforce. Aiden VP of Product Chris Hansen says the tech allows users to “configure computers shipped directly from an (original equipment manufacturing) vendor to an end-user and maintain them throughout their lifecycle.” Launched in 2020, Aiden’s growth is being propelled by a $2.9 million seed funding round led by Right Side Capital Management that the company announced last June.
Wednesday, February 23
⓵ 5G CONSUMER MARKET
Dallas-based AT&T has joined the Startup 5G program of Ericsson, whose North American HQ is in Plano.
The 5G innovation collaboration is driven by Ericsson’s ConsumerLab, with a goal of helping communications service providers commercialize and monetize 5G. AT&T is the first U.S. service provider to join the global program.
Jay Cary (above left), VP of 5G Product & Innovation at AT&T, said in a statement that AT&T’s 5G network “is ready to take on more social and immersive experiences that will transform how we live, work and play. Tapping into Ericsson’s ConsumerLab and its deep catalogue of companies and innovative ideas could help us bring new experiences to life using technology like AR and VR across a variety of interests, including travel and sports.”
Rob Johnson (above right), VP and Head of Global Customer Unit AT&T for Ericsson, said, “We’re excited to have AT&T, with its long legacy of innovation in the mobile space, joining our Startup 5G program to put exciting new 5G applications and services in consumers’ hands.”
⓶ INFLUENCER UNICORN BRANDS ITSELF
A Dallas influencer marketing unicorn is planning its first-ever brand campaign.
LTK—formerly known as rewardstyle & LIKEtoKNOW.it—has innovated creator commerce for a decade. Operating on five continents to connect brands, influencers, and consumers, the company drives more than $2.9 billion in annual retail sales. In November, it received a $300 million investment from SoftBank Vision Fund 2.
Now LTK plans to launch its first-ever brand campaign in April, showcasing how LTK’s creators are transforming the way people shop. Today it named Deloitte Digital as its new creative, strategic, and media planning agency of record.
“We selected Deloitte Digital because its model is unlike anything else we came across in our agency search,” LTK President and Co-Founder Amber Venz Box (above) said in a statement, “and we knew that its end-to-end approach was the right fit to demonstrate to the world the critical role creators play in transforming and improving the way people go shopping.”
“LTK has grown into what it is today by disrupting the status quo, and we were selected to help keep that momentum and subversiveness going,” added Leslie Sims, U.S. chief creative officer of Deloitte Digital.
⓷ HITTING THE BEACH
A deal with Microsoft and a revamped business model has led to a local startup opening offices in southern Florida, making a big splash in the region and beyond.
After getting a $500,000 interest-free loan from Microsoft, McKinney-based CourMed, a concierge health care services delivery company, quietly opened a regional office in Miami Beach in November. Now it has its sights set on international expansion.
“Miami is an international city,” Derrick Miles, CourMed founder and CEO, told Dallas Innovates. “We’ve already served patients from Italy, Australia, and Mexico.”
With the success of CourMed’s concierge health care services delivery model, the company is planning to sunset its prescription deliveries—though some will still be available upon request—and will relaunch its new model in North Texas later this month.
“There’s an opportunity for us to really create something new in the marketplace that doesn’t exist,” Miles said. “This is a totally different type of care. We call it the antithesis of seven-minute medicine.” Read more in our story here.
Tuesday, February 22
⓵ WORLD’S BIGGEST LIFT
Mouser Electronics will have 120 vertical lift modules (VLMs) installed by this spring in its massive global distribution center in Mansfield, a suburb south of Arlington—creating the largest VLM installation on earth.
The state-of-the-art automation will increase order processing, accuracy, and speed, helping Mouser’s customers further reduce time-to-market, the company says.
VLMs are essentially “giant vertical filing cabinets,” complete with shelves and an automated extractor to bring components to an employee’s workstation. Mouser says this can reduce an employee’s walking time by 45% or more, increasing efficiency and floor space.
In addition to the massive VML installation, Mouser’s distribution center features multiple Ultipack and I-Pack machines—a sophisticated automated system for sealing and labeling shipments that can process up to 14 orders per minute—along with an OPEX Perfect Pick system for consolidation and an AutoStore system.
⓶ MOO-VING THE SUPPLY CHAIN FORWARD
With prices rising at the supermarket, a newly formed company is looking to bring stability to the food and beverage supply chain.
Frisco’s Dairy.com is merging with Chicago risk management firm ever.ag and Tennessee software solutions business EFC Systems to form EverAg, a supply chain management company focused on the agriculture, food, and beverage industries.
The new company, which also provides risk management and market intelligence solutions, will be headed by Dairy.com CEO Scott Sexton, whose former company INC2Inc Technologies merged with Dairy.com in 2000, after Dairy.com was formed with a $19 million investment from names like Kraft Foods and Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream.
With the merger, EverAg has a team of about 450 spread across seven global locations. According to the company, its tech supports more than 600 companies.
“Transforming agricultural commodities into finished goods is an intricate, interconnected process, that together, we are uniquely positioned to support,” Sexton said in a statement. “Through our combined portfolio, we have all of the expertise and solutions necessary to help clients efficiently and cost effectively move food from farm to fork.”
⓷ CURATED DINING
With plans to launch this summer, a new app is looking to help users find the right meals—whether they’re eating out or cooking at home—to match their fitness goals.
Called Bitewell, the nutrition-focused app vets ingredients and preparation techniques at restaurants, using that data to show users where to eat based on the individual health and nutrition goals they provide, D Magazine reports. In addition, users can find recipes that align with their goals and have those ingredients delivered by local grocery partners.
Bitewell is looking to launch in Dallas as it closes out its second seed funding round, before expanding to other cities across the country.
Behind Bitewell is Dallas-based Co-founder and CMO Samantha Citro Alexander, a former director at the Estée Lauder Companies, and CEO Chris Fanucchi, a serial entrepreneur whose previous caffeinated sparkling water business Limitless sold to Keurig Dr Pepper in 2020.
⟫ The Richardson Chamber of Commerce has named interim leaders to replace Bill Sproull, who resigned on February 4 from his positions as president and CEO of the chamber and CEO of Tech Titans and the Richardson Economic Development Partnership. Kimberly Quirk (above) will serve as the chamber’s interim president, reports Community Impact. The executive director of Leadership Richardson, she previously served on the board of trustees of Richardson ISD, marking five terms as president. The chamber also announced that Paul Bendel, SVP of programs and events, will serve as executive director of Tech Titans. Doug McDonald, managing director of the city’s office of innovation and placemaking initiatives, will serve as interim executive director for the REDP.
⟫ You’ll see new signposts ahead when you travel through Dallas’ Deep Ellum. The Deep Ellum Foundation has installed new streetlight pole banners throughout the neighborhood, showcasing the work of local Deep Ellum tattoo artists. The artists work at Taboo Tattoo, Dallas Tattoo and Arts Company, and Artistic Encounter.
⟫ Actor and producer Scoot McNairy (“True Detective,” “Halt and Catch Fire,” “Narcos”) is being featured in a new ad campaign for Fort Worth’s TX Whiskey. “I want to share a Texas-rooted brand with the world, giving them something to remember us by, something that brings us together and ultimately enjoying a whiskey made by Texans that value hospitality for all,” McNairy said in a statement. “After all, sharing a drink with your neighbor is the Texas way.”
⟫ Comcast NBCUniversal’s SportsTech Accelerator begins this week for 10 sports tech-focused startups. All 10 will be coming to Dallas this spring to get a behind-the-scenes look at WrestleMania 38. While they’re in Texas, they’ll also get looks at a NASCAR race at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas and the PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
Friday, February 18
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ SMU Wins National Innovation Award for Teaching Artists How Not to Starve—by Becoming Entrepreneurs
⓶ Farms of the Future: Alphabet-Backed Vertical Farming Startup Plans New Site in Arlington
⓷ Dallas’ IF/THEN Initiative Puts National Spotlight on Women in STEM With TODAY Debut of PSA Campaign
⓸ ‘Eyes in the Sky’: Bell Textron Completes Autonomous Flight Test with NASA
⓹ From the Ground Up: Three Firms Take New Leases at the Crescent, Chick-fil-A Plans New Distribution Center in Dallas County, Plus More
⓺ Fueled by a $132M Series B Raise, Indian Automation Startup Expands to North America with Frisco Offices
⓻ TMGcore CEO Sees Trend in ‘Born in Liquid’ Servers
⓼ Dallas Agency Rebrands as REVEL8, Aims to ‘Turn Brands into Role Models’
⓽ ‘Driving Nannies’: Tech-Enabled Rideshare Service for Kids Ramps Up in Dallas
⓾ Globe-Trotting Crusts: The ‘FedEx of Bread’ Delivers Artisan International Breads to Dallas-Area Doors
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ NO. 1 IN REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT
That boom you heard in Dallas-Fort Worth the last decade? That was real estate activity.
According to a new report from StorageCafe, the Dallas Metro ranks No. 1 in the U.S. for the most real estate development activity over those 10 years.
Building permits were issued in DFW for roughly 323,000 single family homes over the decade—a 59% increase, and four times the numbers seen in Chicago. Permits were also issued for more than 233,000 multifamily units—a 176% increase, and nearly three times the numbers seen in Chicago.
From corporate relos to retail to industrial to self-storage construction, the report takes a look at what boomed most, both in DFW and nationwide. Read more in our story here.
⓶ BETTING BIG ON THE BAYOU CITY
Dallas ride-hailing startup Alto is driving up its operations in Houston.
The company is moving its Houston operations center into larger digs within the city, in addition to adding more cars and drivers to its fleet, according to Houston Inno. The move will include building out EV charging infrastructure as Alto looks to have a fully electric fleet by the end of next year.
The announcement comes after Alto saw its ridership in Houston grow by around 500% last year, after launching in the city in 2020.
The expansion is being fueled by a $45 million Series B funding round co-led by Fort Worth’s Goff Capital and San Francisco’s Tuesday Capital that Alto raised last June.
⓷ SKYLINE GETS SCHOOLED
Don’t let its original 1903 building above fool you: Texas Woman’s University can look modern, too.
To prove it, the university is slated to get a brand-spanking-new piece of 21st century architecture to add to its lineup—and to Denton’s skyline.
The TWU Board of Regents have greenlighted a project to build a new 175,000 square-foot health sciences center. Expected to train students across disciplines like nursing and physical therapy, the center will include labs, classrooms, and collaborative workspaces.
Design on the project, which is being funded with money from the Texas Legislature, is set to begin this year, with project completion expected by 2025.
Thursday, February 17
⓵ CLOSING THE LOOP
The proposed hyperloop between Dallas and Fort Worth has been ruled out by the Regional Transportation Council—but we’re still on the fast track for high-speed rail between the cities.
The RTC, a policy-making body of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, eliminated the hyperloop from consideration last week, reports The Texan. Dallas Innovates wrote about the hyperloop proposal in October.
Instead, the RTC will now focus solely on the creation of a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Fort Worth, with a stop in Arlington. The tech being considered may not have the sci-fi wow factor of a hyperloop, but it’s still very fast, with speeds of up to 250 miles per hour.
Members of the RTC voted unanimously for the move after hearing from Brendon Wheeler, its principal transportation planner, that the still-developing hyperloop tech could delay the project.
Bottom line: Blazingly fast rail could still be part of DFW’s future—but don’t get in line yet. The next step is an environmental analysis which could take up to two years, Wheeler told The Texan.
⓶ SETTING SIGHTS ON OPPORTUNITIES
A local organization has set its sights on growth, while giving more opportunities to the visually impaired.
Envision Dallas, a nonprofit employer of people who are blind or visually impaired, is consolidating its operations to a new 210,000 space in Farmers Branch in 2023, where it will house a manufacturing facility, call center, and warehouse. And it’s expecting to double its headcount to 400 over the next two years.
The new facility, which brings together operations that have been split between three buildings spread across Dallas and Richardson, will see workers—most of which are blind or visually impaired—make things like eyeglasses for the Navy and peanut butter for the Texas prison system. They will also handle phone calls for places like the Better Business Bureau.
Envision Dallas is the new name of Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, following its acquisition by Kansas nonprofit Envision in 2018.
“The Farmers Branch expansion is part of Envision Dallas’s ongoing effort to advance and grow North Texas’s services for the blind or visually impaired community that provide patients invaluable resources and jobs critical to independent living while offering inspiration and hope,” said David Stupay, managing director at Envision Dallas, in a statement.
⓷ MAVS FOR OAK CLIFF
The Dallas Mavericks dedicated the new Mavs Tech Center at the nonprofit campus of For Oak Cliff on Wednesday.
The Mavs computer lab—the largest designed by the Mavericks and Mavs Foundation in franchise history—features new computers, Oculus VR headsets, Vari furniture, and access to high-speed broadband internet.
The lab will be home to GED courses, summer camps, phlebotomy and workforce classes, and other activities for students and the community.
“At the Dallas Mavericks, we believe strongly in being much bigger than basketball,” said Katie Edwards, SVP External Affairs & President of the Mavs Foundation. “It’s more about who we are, and it’s part of our DNA to give back and support the community and take care of each other. That’s really what we do. It’s part of being a family, and we are so happy to provide this support.”
The opening honored the memory of Mavericks CTO David Herr, who passed away unexpectedly last year.
⟫ Earlier this month, we told you DFW cryptocurrency trading platform Aurox is looking to go public later this year. On its path toward that, the “Bloomberg Terminal for crypto” has landed its first direct investment with a $5 million equity financing round led by Brett Rosen and Deborah Braun of Nevada’s RB Capital Partners. The money will go toward marketing and scaling its development team.
⟫ After its workforce fell by about 6,000 from 2020 through the end of 2021 to buyouts and voluntary retirements during the pandemic, Dallas’ Southwest Airlines is looking to add around 8,000 as travel picks and employee sick calls increase. To do so, it has resumed work on its Leadership Education and Aircrew Development Center, which includes eight flight-training simulators, to bring on new pilots. The $13 million project was halted at the onset of the pandemic.
⟫ In yet another sign that hybrid work may be here to stay, luxury retailer Neiman Marcus is planning to open an “office hub” in Dallas, the Dallas Morning News reports. Aimed at allowing employees to “decide how and where they work,” the move comes after Neiman Marcus left its longtime offices in Dallas amid its 2020 bankruptcy reorganization. There’s no word yet on where the hub will be located.
Wednesday, February 16
⓵ AN AGENCY IS BORN
Three former execs of the multicultural agency Lerma, a Richards Group spinoff, have launched a new agency of their own: BeautifulBeast.
The cross-cultural marketing agency launched Tuesday with offices in Dallas and Miami. It’s led by CEO and creative chairman Aldo Quevedo (far left above), founding partner and VP of brand leadership Salma Gottfried (second from left above), and founding partner and chief creative officer Flor Leibaschoff (third from left above).
According to Adweek, they stayed at Lerma through the Super Bowl to wrap up digital work for Avocados From Mexico.
“Clients are looking for something very flexible and nimble,” Quevedo told Adweek. “The pandemic showed us what really needs to be happening. We wanted to bring the full solutions to a team. We have experience, we have the connections and we said ‘This is the time.'”
⓶ CARBON NEUTRAL
Software from Plano-based Siemens Digital Industries Software has been adopted by Daimler Truck to develop next-gen carbon-neutral vehicles.
Siemens’ Simcenter STAR-CCM+ software, part of Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio, will deliver the computational fluid dynamics solution Daimler Truck needs to transform its CAE development process to a full “digital twin-driven multiphysics environment,” Siemens says.
“Digitalization is critical to sustainable industrial innovation in the transportation sector and by providing insight into the real-world performance of products, Simcenter STAR-CCM+ can accelerate innovation for a better tomorrow,” said Edwin Severijn Sr., VP and GM, EMEA, Siemens Digital Industries Software.
⓷ BIOTECH BOOST
A Southlake biotech firm has raised new funding and named a new leader on its path to help treat a disease for which there is currently no cure.
Renibus Therapeutics, which focuses on treatments for acute and chronic kidney diseases, announced closing a $35 million Series A funding round. New CEO Frank Stonebanks said it’s a “critical inflection point” in the company’s commitment to the prevention and treatment of kidney diseases. The raise will fuel the development of three of Renibus’ therapies.
According to a CDC report, one in seven U.S. adults will be affected by kidney disease, with no approved therapies for acute injury or chronic disease. Read more in our story here.
Tuesday, February 15
⓵ SHOW ME THE MONEY
MoneyGram International is going private.
The Dallas-based money transfer and digital payments company announced plans to be acquired by Chicago private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners in an all-cash deal valued at around $1.8 billion. However, the deal includes a “go-shop” period ending March 16 that would give MoneyGram leaders a chance to look at alternative acquisition options.
If the deal with Madison Dearborn goes through, it would close in Q4 and see the firm refinance MoneyGram’s nearly $800 million in outstanding debt. The announcement, which MoneyGram said will accelerate its digital growth strategy, sent the company’s shares up nearly 20% in premarket trading.
Following the acquisition, MoneyGram intends to operate under the same brand and continue under the leadership of CEO Alex Holmes. It also plans to keep its headquarters in Dallas, where around 400 of its more than 2,000-person workforce is located.
“MoneyGram has undergone a rapid transformation over the last several years to expand our digital capabilities and adapt to the evolving needs of our customers,” Holmes said in a statement. “By partnering with MDP and becoming a private company, we’ll have greater opportunities to innovate and transform MoneyGram to lead the industry in cross-border payment technology and deliver a more expansive set of digital offerings, while leveraging our global platform for new customers and use cases.”
⓶ AFRICA BOUND
Dallas-based flexible IoT company Radix IoT is partnering with South Africa-based Vangard Projects to deliver its platform across Africa.
Radix’s Mango OS platform will be used as part of Vangard’s monitoring and control services, enabling clients to harness data from across all their connected systems into “one cohesive source for actionable analytics, automation, predictive maintenance, and operational improvement with unlimited scalability.”
“In expanding our joint offering across Africa, Vangard Projects can now offer the market’s unmatched unifying IoT platform for remote operations and monitoring of such critical facilities as water utility, waste management and mining industries,” said Michael Skurla, chief product officer at Radix IoT, in a statement.
South Africa’s water-stressed environment will get particular attention. A South African Water Works utility delivers 120 million liters of safe drinking water daily to nearly 400,000 people. With Mango OS, the utility monitors over 80 telemetry stations and seven SCADA systems to ensure efficient water use and conservancy.
⓷ LIST MAKERS
Pitchbook has a new list of 66 Black Founders and Investors to Watch in 2022—and some locals made the list.
Three Dallas founders who appear on the list include Derrick Miles, founder and CEO of Dallas-based CourMed, which provides end-to-end concierge delivery of healthcare products and services; Courtney Caldwell, co-founder and CEO of ShearShare, a B2B app matching beauty professionals to unused salon space in 330+ cities in 11 countries; and Joe Beard, co-founder of Dallas-based CollateralEdge, a fintech platform that provides banks with innovative, automated solutions to bolster the credit profile of loans and allow greater underwriting flexibility; and
Arlan Hamilton, the Dallas native founder and managing partner at L.A.-based Backstage Capital, also made the list. Backstage backs underrepresented, high-achieving startup founders.
Monday, February 14
⓵ STRYVE-ING FOR MORE
A Plano company is looking to stock more snacks on store shelves.
Dried meat snack maker Stryve Foods, best known for its biltong jerky, announced bolstering the drying capacity of its primary manufacturing facility in Oklahoma, while hinting at plans to build or buy other facilities this year to expand production of two of its top-performing snacks.
The move is being fueled by a $35 million through a private stock offering in January, and comes as the company says it has “large distribution expansions” with retailers like Costco, Walmart, and Target. Stryve hit the Nasdaq last year, after merging with blank check company Andina Acquisition Corp. with an enterprise value of $170 million.
Without revealing a location, Co-founder and CEO Joe Oblas said Stryve has located an site the will allow it to consolidate its corporate offices, e-commerce fulfillment, and wholesale fulfillment operations. It’s also looking at developing more in-house manufacturing capabilities.
“With an increased focus in the U.S. on health and wellness, Stryve is experiencing strong consumer and retailer demand for its healthy meat snacks,” Oblas said in a statement. “Through our capital raise in January, Stryve has fortified its strong balance sheet and can now make the strategic investments necessary to scale the business and supply our rapidly growing national customer base.”
⓶ TEXAS FLOOD
From flooding to tornadoes and hurricanes, Texas sees a number of weather-related emergencies. And a local firm is looking to help the government better respond to them in the future.
Infrastructure consulting giant AECOM has teamed up with other firms to form the Compass Production and Technical Services Joint Venture, which landed a $300 million contract from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning Program to help it conduct risk analysis and reduction services.
For AECOM’s part, it will use its engineering and mapping capabilities to create “hyperlocal” flood hazard and risk data at a state-sized scale. The one-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quality contract—which comes with four one-year options—include three FEMA regions, comprised of 17 states.
Other organizations making up the joint venture include ABS Group, CDM Federal Programs Corporation, Halff Associates, and T&M Associates.
“AECOM is well-positioned to support the bold vision and ambitious goals of the 2022-2026 FEMA Strategic Plan, which includes instilling equity in emergency management, leading whole communities in climate resilience, and promoting and sustaining a ready FEMA and prepared nation,” said Beverley Stinson, chief exec of AECOM’s global water business, in a statement.
⓷ STUDENT SUCCESS
Success Training Institute believes it’s the soft skills that will help students excel, so it’s looking to invest in lower-income schools.
The Plano-based online education platform announced it’s planning to launch a $10 million scholarship campaign next month for high school students in Title I schools to give them the social and emotional tools they will need in the workplace.
The company said it aims to reach nearly 10,000 students with scholarships to its courses, which offer training in things like leadership, management, and customer service. Success Training Institute, which was created in 2015 by former Prime Prep Academy Co-founder D.L. Wallace, operates in more than 25 states.
“Emotional deficiencies are the root cause of many of the problems facing our young people,” Wallace said in a statement. “This life-changing training gives high school students the ability to focus on improving themselves from the inside out in just a few minutes per day.”
⟫ Frisco-based PGA of America has picked wellness company Technogym as its official training equipment supplier. The Italian producer of tech-driven fitness equipment also has been the official supplier of the past eight editions of the Olympic games, it said in an announcement today. Fitness centers at the PGA HQ and PGA Frisco Coaching Center will be outfitted with smart-connected equipment, and PGA will promote the brand and products to its 28,000 pros and network of golf enthusiasts. “As performance training has become a larger part of golf coaching, this was a perfect opportunity for this kind of collaboration,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh in a statement.
⟫ Also in Frisco, the city’s iconic downtown water tower could get a colorful upgrade. The Frisco City Council heard a proposal on Feb. 10 to install color-changing LED lights on the Rail District icon, reports Community Impact. The tower, which has been in place since 1924, would likely be lit warm white most of the time, but could display up to four colors at a time if plans proceed, per the presentation.
⟫ Dallas-based MedifriendRx, together with the nonprofit Urban Inter-Tribal Center of Texas, will create a robot pharmacy. The technology could be a lifesaver by providing drug access to isolated communities—and revolutionize how pharmacies operate, writes D Healthcare Daily. The UITCT’s clinic serves the medical needs of federally recognized tribes in an 11-county area in North Texas, but its ability to dispense meds depends on a lone pharmacist being onsite.
⟫ The Dallas City Council will hold a special committee meeting tomorrow to review potential projects that could be funded with federal infrastructure money—and about $35B is coming to the state of Texas with communities receiving a share, reports NBCDFW. Go here to see the agenda and other details.
⟫ Immersive art experience and Insta-favorite Sweet Tooth Hotel is getting a flagship location in downtown Dallas at 1511 Elm St. Founded in 2018, its exhibits have featured local and national innovators in a series of pop-up events around the region. (“Rewind,” above, is currently in Allen at Watters Creek.) Sweet Tooth’s permanent location in the Dallas CBD will be its largest space yet—about five times the size of its first pop up. Opening this summer with a new “Dreamland” exhibit, the 6,000-square-foot digs will have nine gallery spaces and a cocktail lounge sponsored by celeb tequila brand Calirosa Tequila, which is owned by Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine and his wife Behati Prinsloo. That’s “best described as a neon disco garden,” Sweet Tooth Hotel Co-Founder Jencey Keeton told Culturemap Dallas.
Friday, February 11
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ UK Soccer Experience TOCA Social Coming to Dallas Design District
⓶ Hedera Hashgraph Eyes ‘Next‑Generation Gaming’ with Ubisoft Partnership
⓷ Dallas-Based Pathway Homes Commits $750M to Rent-to-Own Venture
⓸ He Sent Israel’s First Spacecraft to the Moon—Now His Flytrex Drones Will Deliver Burgers to DFW Back Yards
⓹ Long-Time Tech Titans, Richardson Chamber Leader Resigns
⓺ Backed by Big-Name Athletes, PlayersTV Lands ‘Seven-Figure’ Deal to Fuel Expansion
⓻ Changing Priorities of Supply Chain Management in North Texas
⓼ Bioplastic Product Startup lands $3.25M Seed Round
⓽ Local Startup Aims to Save Peoples’ Sight with Video Games
⓾ Dallas Company’s Wind-Powered MicroGrids are Heading to the U.K. Market
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ TOP AMAZON EXEC IN HP
Amazon has been heavily investing in its presence in DFW. And for a while, its top retail exec has been calling the region home.
According to a Business Insider report, Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, quietly moved to Highland Park from the Seattle suburbs last fall, in a move the report suggests may be motivated to avoid a new capital gains tax Washington is imposing this year.
Clark joins other high-profile costal transplants to Texas like Elon Musk. He started with Amazon, which has more than 35,000 DFW employees, in 1999 as a warehouse manager. He made the move to CEO last year.
As of spring of last year, Amazon had more than 10 million square feet of distribution space in DFW, making it the region’s largest warehouse user, per The Dallas Morning News.
⓶ POLYMERS IN PLANO
A specialty materials compounder has a new CEO, and is moving its headquarters to North Texas.
Mississippi-based Elite Advanced Polymers is planning to relocate its HQ to 5717 Legacy Drive in Plano, as it looks to expand its presence in the Southern U.S.
Launched in 2001 as Elite Elastomers Inc., the company was acquired by private equity firm DestinHaus Capital last February. Seiichiro “Ichiro” Araki, a former DestinHaus managing director, was named as Elite’s new CEO in December.
Elite is already making moves in the region. This week, it announced its acquisition of Cleburne-based J Dunnam & Co., an oil and gas industry-focused specialty rubber compounder, for an undisclosed amount.
“With this move, the company aims to build its corporate team from the strong talent pool in the area,” Elite wrote in a statement.
⓷ KINDNESS KID MAKES GOOD
Yesterday we told you about four North Texans shortlisted for TIME’s Kid of the Year honor. Turns out the publication dropped the name of the winner on Wednesday night—and a local took home the title.
TIME’s 2021 Kid of the Year is 11-year-old Mansfield resident Orion Jean. He was selected from a field of thousands of applicants and selected for attributes like innovation, determination, and passion.
Jean was recognized for launching A Race to Kindness, an initiative aimed at distributing meals across the country and getting books to children in need. In total, Jean has collected and donated about 100,000 meals and 500,000 books.
“When the pandemic began, I saw a lot of things were happening, people were losing their jobs and losing access to food and homes and all of these essential things,” Jean said in a TIME interview with actress Angelina Jolie. “And I knew right then that I wanted to do something to help.”
⟫ 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of H. Ross Perot’s founding of Electronic Data Systems in Dallas, and a lot of ex-employees are sharing their memories and stories about it. An EDS Alumni Facebook group has 20,000 subscribers, the Dallas Morning News reports. According to Forbes, the $1,000 investment to launch EDS back in 1962 has turned into an estimated $7 billion family fortune. One neat detail: Perot never used a computer. He preferred to type things up on his Remington typewriter.
⟫ A second Pressed Roots silk blow-out bar blew into Plano’s Shops at Legacy Friday, with more expansions planned after the success of its first location on Singleton Boulevard in Dallas. Founder and CEO Piersten Gaines opened her Singleton spot in March 2020, dealing with pandemic shutdowns before reaching over $1 million in annual revenue. “One of the big things I noticed about Dallas is that a lot of the girls who had textured hair wore their hair naturally,” Gaines told the DMN. “They didn’t have any options.” They do now. The CEO has 50 stylists at her Dallas spot, is hiring 50 more in Plano, and plans locations in Arlington and Houston after raising a seed funding round, the DMN says.
⟫ A civil engineering professor at UT Arlington has received two contracts worth nearly $1.1 million from the Texas Department of Transportation. Sahadat Hossain, who’s also director of UT Arlington’s Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability, will use recycled plastic pins for slope stabilization and increasing the bearing capacity of highway walls.
⟫ After going public last year, Dallas’ Signify Health has acquired Kansas City-based accountable care provider Caravan Health in a $250 million deal that includes $190 million in cash and $60 million in Signify common stock. The deal also includes future payments of up to $50 million based on Caravan’s future performance. Signify hopes the move will help it leverage Caravan’s analytics, technology, and payments program. Combined, the company will have more that 2,150 employees.
⟫ Hot off 300% revenue growth in 2021, Austin-based home testing startup Everly Health, which has a presence in North Texas, is gearing up to launch early-detection at-home cancer tests. According to Axios, the move will be an early test of Everly Health’s enterprise division Everly Health Solutions and be available to members of employer health plans. The company, which is valued at close to $3 billion, raised $200 million last year, in addition to scooping up PWNHealth, Home Access Health, and Natalist.
⟫ According to Container Store CEO Satish Malhotra, the rise in home projects during the pandemic is bringing a lot more competition in the space. The Dallas Morning News reports the Coppell-based retailer is seeing that from companies like Walmart and Target. Like the Container Store, those two companies have been launching new private labels. Competition is also coming from new mom-and-pops. For its own part, Container Store is hoping to boost its presence in the custom space market with its December $21.5 million acquisition of Chicago’s Closet Works Co.
⟫ Dallas has often been touted as a good jobs market. But what jobs are people searching for? Of course, Google has the answers. According to the Alphabet-owned company, the top five job-related searches from people in the region are how to become a notary, real estate agent, insurance agent, Amazon seller, and freight broker. Searchers may find a job, given Robert Half’s recent report that 57% of local companies are looking to make new hires in the next six months.
Thursday, February 10
⓵ THE BOUNDS OF CONVENTION
The Dallas City Council approved plans yesterday for a new $2 billion convention center.
Under the proposed plan, the current convention would be torn down and a new, 2.5 million-square-foot convention center would be built west of Lamar Street (at top in rendering above). It could have elevated ballrooms with downtown views, opening Griffin and Lamar to natural light, and reconfigure Lamar to offer a central lobby and “enhanced pedestrian experience.”
The plan opens land east of Lamar for new development, and would connect downtown Dallas to The Cedars and other surrounding neighborhoods. Memorial Arena and The Black Academy of the Arts and Letters will be a cojoined, separate facility featuring an enhanced urban landscape.
You can learn more about the master plan here.
⓶ NEXT-GEN INNOVATORS
TIME is gearing up to name its annual Kid of the Year—and four North Texans are finalists.
In partnership with Nickelodeon, the publication did a nationwide search for kids ages 8 through 16 who embody “determination, passion, kindness, bravery, and innovation”. Among the 19 finalists, four are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area:
Orion Jean, 11, Mansfield: Launched A Race to Kindness, an initiative aimed at distributing meals and books to those in need.
Sadie Keller, 14, Lantana: Created Sadie’s Sleigh, an organization collecting toys for childhood cancer patients and funding cancer research—something based on her personal experience surviving childhood cancer.
Lino Marrero, 15, Frisco: Invented Kinetic Kickz 2.0, a shoe insert that turns kinetic energy from walking into a source of renewable energy. Lino was an honoree at Raytheon’s first annual Invention Competition Globals.
Alena Wicker, 13, Cedar Hill: Formed Brown STEM Girl, an organization providing mentorship and resources to STEM students of color.
⓷ CABLE CONVERSION
Telecom giant Comcast uses a lot of cable to keep people connected—and a local company is looking to keep them out of landfills.
Carrollton-based electronics recycler and data security firm Echo Environmental, a unit of Irving holding company Envela Corporation, has teamed up with Comcast to convert the company’s old coaxial cables into reusable materials.
Unlike other recycling techniques aimed at the metals inside the cable, Echo uses high-polymer fractions to remove the jacketing and insulation from the cable to also be reused. According to the company, it’s able to recycle about one million pounds of wire waste monthly. It expects to be able to recycle around 70% of Comcast’s waste per year.
“We’ve been in constant search for new technologies to maximize the recyclability and reusability of coax cable materials at end-of-life,” said Tom Vogel, Comcast Cable senior VP of supply chain and logistics, in a statement. “Echo Environmental’s technology brings coax waste into the circular economy, converting coax into new materials that can be reintegrated into another product lifecycle.”
⟫ Dallas-based Kanarys, a diversity, equity, and inclusion-focused tech company, announced a strategic partnership with the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR). As part of the move, NAAAHR’s nearly 30,000 members will have access to Kanarys’ proprietary resources and the two will partner on DEI-focused research and events, in an effort to make the HR industry more “DEI proficient.” NAAAHR joins a number of other national groups to partner with Kanarys, including the National Society of Black Engineers, Prospanica, and the Society for Marketing Professional Services. “We’re grateful that NAAAHR has entrusted us to be their partner to educate their members on DEI standards and best practices so they can implement strategies that’ll actually move the needle,” said Kanarys founder and CEO Mandy Price (above).
⟫ Dallas’ Topgolf Entertainment Group is taking its tech to where the sport first began. The company’s newest location in Glasgow, Scotland, is expected to employ more than 300. The move, which adds to Topgolf’s lineup of 70 other global locations, also brings the company itself back to its origins. Initially launched in the U.K. in 2000, the company was acquired by Callaway Golf last year in a $2.6 billion deal.
⟫ Frisco esports organization Complexity Gaming is the latest to enter the NFT craze. The company inked a partnership deal with yet-to-be-launched ARterra, a marketplace for non-fungible tokens. The platform will be GameSquare Esports-owned company’s exclusive NFT marketplace. The move is unsurprising, given that Complexity founder and GameSquare stakeholder Jason Lake is an early investor and advisor to Arterra.
Wednesday, February 9
⓵ CHEETAHS IN PLANO?
“Project Cheetah” is coming to Plano.
Citing anonymous sources and regulatory filings, the Dallas Business Journal reports that a McAfee spinoff is planning 85,000 square feet of office space at 6000 Headquarters Drive, using “Project Cheetah” in its filings.
Called Trellix, the cybersecurity company is a combination of McAfee Enterprise and California-based FireEye Products that was formed after both were acquired by Symphony Technology Group for billions of dollars last year.
While Trellix is based in San Jose, Calif., McAfee is a longtime presence in Plano. The company has around 5,000 employees in total and reported revenue of close to $2 billion.
“This new organization will be opening an office housing the employees and assets of its combined operations in Plano,” a Trellix spokesperson told the DBJ.
⓶ STRICTLY LEGAL IN FRISCO
A leading provider of GRC software for in-house legal, privacy, and IT teams is expanding its global footprint with a new office in Frisco as it plans a potential future IPO.
Portland, Oregon-based Exterro Inc. is also opening an office in London, England, as part of the expansion. The company has 3,000+ customers and employees in 12 different countries.
Exterro’s GRC software—an acronym for governance, risk, and compliance—”automates the complex interconnections of privacy, legal operations, digital investigations, cybersecurity response, compliance, and information governance,” the company says.
CEO Bobby Balachandran said in a statement that the new offices will expand his company’s reach and inform development of its products. “Expanding the opportunity for more of our customers to spend productive time with us in-person not only enhances their understanding of Exterro, but also allows them to exchange ideas with us that feed into the development of our product suite,” he said.
⓷ HIRING SPREE
DFW is often touted for its “business-friendly environment,” and business seems to be booming.
Business consulting firm Robert Half says 57% of Dallas companies are planning to add at least one new full-time position over the next six months.
As the region has added nearly 200,000 jobs since the beginning of last year, companies are beginning to compete for talent. From the data, about 67% are raising salaries, 40% are offering signing bonuses, and more than 30% are enticing workers with more paid time off.
Robert Half also notes that contract workers are in demand in Dallas: “70% of managers will hire more contract professionals in the first half of 2022.”
⟫ Dallas-based Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages is looking for new workers. We know, who isn’t? But they’re really doing something about it—by debuting their first-ever hiring ad in Texas and Oklahoma during the Super Bowl. Featuring the song “Happy” played on Coca-Cola bottles, the spot features nearly 24 employees from Houston, Bryan, and Beaumont. The spot was shot last month by Plot Twist Creativity at CCSWB’s new production, sales, and distribution facility in Houston. Billboards, radio spots, and a social media campaign will drop next.
⟫ Dallas-based WhitelistNFT recently launched MintPass—a user’s ticket into upcoming NFT pre-sales by projects that use the WhitelistNFT platform. NFT collectors that own a WhitelistNFT MintPass can participate in a voting process to vet upcoming NFT drops. They can also decide which ones will get the full support of the WhitelistNFT partner network—which includes The Doge Pound, Hashmasks, and many others.
⟫ Peloton announced yesterday that it’s laying off 2,800 workers—and the impact is already being felt in the Dallas area. Plano, which was Peloton’s first support center outside NYC, was at one time planned to be the home of 1,600 Peloton employees, reports the Dallas Morning News. But after seeing its business skyrocket during the early part of the pandemic, vaccine rollouts and reopenings hit Peloton hard. The job cuts will include trims at its Plano, New York, and Atlanta offices, the DMN says.
Tuesday, February 8
⓵ OFFICE SPACE LIMBERS UP
DFW likes flexible office space… a lot.
According to a Dallas Morning News report citing CBRE data, North Texas is the No. 2 market for coworking and flexible office space—coming in only behind Manhattan.
With more than five million square feet in the region, flex space makes up 2.2% of total office space in the market.
“The office has become a critical player in the war for talent, and flex is playing a large role in this,” Chelsea Story, CBRE senior associate, said in the company’s report. “Flex office space is increasingly looked at as a holistic part of the real estate strategy versus a temporary solution because it gives office users the ability to weigh out the pros and cons of traditional and flex office space.”
VariSpace Coppell, the new Vari headquarters, is looking to the trend. Set to complete in the summer of 2022, it has 120,000 square feet of flex office space available. Vari Founder and CEO Jason McCann has called the new HQ a proof of concept for the idea of “Building-as-a-Service.”
⓶ GLOBAL GATHERING
EarthX has unveiled its plans for it EarthX 2022 environmental expo.
The Dallas-based organization’s annual gathering—which brings together government leaders, advocates and scientists—is set for April 20-24. And, for the first time since 2019, the event will be held in person.
Unlike previous EarthX gatherings, which were held in Fair Park, this year’s event will be hosted in the Dallas Arts District downtown. The organization said the goal of the event it to “inspire action toward a more sustainable future worldwide.”
EarthX 2022 will serve as the exclusive host for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Media Summit, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Global Youth Summit, and the recently announced U.N. Family Offices for Sustainable Development Summit.
⓷ LUCK OF THE IRISH
Exela Technologies is expanding its presence across the pond.
The Irving-based business process automation company announced it has bought up a 25,000 square-foot headquarters in Dublin, a spaced it had formerly leased.
The company said the move will help it expand the use of its exchange for bills and payments platform in the Irish payments space. Exela President of Europe, Middle East and Africa Vitalie Robu says the company’s market share there has grown to 80%.
According to its website, Exela has employees in 23 countries and customers in more than twice that amount.
“This purchase takes advantage of the value post-Brexit opportunities have provided,” Exela wrote in a news release.
⟫ North Texans may soon see more robots roaming the streets. L.A. remote-piloted delivery startup Coco is expanding to the Lone Start state. Starting by deploying its bots in Austin, the company said it plans to roll out services in Dallas, Houston, and Miami in the coming months. Coco’s growth is being fueled by a $36 million Series A funding round led by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Silicon Valley Bank and Founders Fund that it landed in September.
⟫ A new bar concept has opened in the Shops at Legacy Plano. Called Farm + Feed—a play on terms taken from gaming—the restaurant-bar offers a number of ways to game, from new releases to analog games, as well as bites like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos balls and pizza rolls that would be familiar in many a gamer’s station. That’s likely because Farm + Feed’s menu was created by video game developer Riot Games’ Executive Chef Matt Yuen.
⟫ The Carbon to Value Initiative, a collaboration between the Urban Future Lab at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, Greentown Labs and Fraunhofer USA, is teaming up with Irving-based Fluor Corporation for its next startup accelerator cohort. (Fluor’s Irving HQ is seen above.) Through the six-month program, selected carbontech-focused companies will receive $10,000 in non-dilutive funding and work closely with the engineering and construction firm to commercialize their technology. The program is funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Monday, February 7
⓵ ‘FRY OR BE FRIED’
A new A&E reality TV series will focus on the “grease-soaked geniuses” who create fried concoctions for the State Fair of Texas.
“Deep Fried Dynasty” will premiere on A&E in March, WFAA reports. The show says it will focus on the “big personalities behind the mouth-watering food at the State Fair of Texas.”
The cast of the show hasn’t been announced, but WFAA spotted some Fair favorites on the show’s trailer promo, which you can see here, It features Abel Gonzales Jr., who Texas Monthly has called “the undisputed king of the Fair Park fryers,” along with fried collard greens superstar Cassy Jones and Tammy Stiffler of Stiffler’s Mom’s Cookie Factory.
WFAA says Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que and Nevins Concessions will also take part in the show, but Fletcher’s Corny Dogs seems to be camera-shy, or at least reality TV-shy—they turned the opportunity down.
⓶ PAYMENT POWER
A Pakistani startup is launching its service in the U.S. and planting its North American operations in North Texas.
QisstPay, an installment payment services startup, is launching its 1-Click Checkout technology in the U.S. The tool allows users to buy now and pay later, while enabling businesses to make transactions with a variety of payment methods.
The company has around 150 employees globally. According to LinkedIn, its local offices are located in Flower Mound, where it’s currently hiring a director of sales. Founded in 2020, QisstPay’s expansion is being fueled by a combined seed and per-seed funding round led by MSA Capital that it announced closing in September.
“The onset of Covid-19 transformed how we live, how we interact, and how we shop,” said Jordan Olivas, QisstPay co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “The new normal dictates that we evolve and make the online shopping experience more convenient by eliminating the cumbersome checkout process, saving time and delighting customers.”
⓷ CHICAGO, CHICAGO
Dallas-based tech and product design studio Dialexa has expanded to the Windy City by launching in the Chicago market.
Tech veteran Jonathan Williams is heading up the Chicago expansion.
“Every now and again, you make big moves, and you get to do it with amazing people,” Dialexa’s founder and CEO Scott Harper wrote on LinkedIn. “We are thrilled to be joining the vibrant business and technology communities in Chicago. I know under Jonathan’s leadership we will thrive and deliver exceptional digital products, data solutions, and strategy to Chicago’s most ambitious companies.”
We wrote about Dialexa’s company culture here, noting that it describes itself as “built by engineers that are also great business people.” Just before the pandemic hit in January 2020, we also took a deep photo dive into Dialexa’s offices in downtown Dallas’ East Quarter, revealing how the team worked and played together in their various brick-walled, loft-like spaces.
⟫ YOUR PHONE’S RINGING, DUDE: Only 16.8% of Dallas homes still have a landline—the lowest rate among all U.S. metros. That’s according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Housing Survey, as reported by HireAHelper. More phone facts: Older folks still get a grip on their landlines—75% of those 75 and older have them in their homes. But less than 5% of those under 25 have them. Meanwhile, only 16% of homes built from 2018 to 2019 have landlines. But 35% of those built in the 1950s still have wired ring-a-ding things.
⟫ Grapevine-based Solo Brands, a direct-to-consumer platform for lifestyle brands, has begun a national search for a new CFO. Current CFO Sam Simmons will remain in his post until his replacement is announced, and then support the transition. Simmons was part of the leadership team that integrated three acquired companies and steered Solo through its successful IPO in October.
⟫ U.K.-based crypto digital payments platform Wirex has launched its services in the U.S. The company—which has an office in Dallas—says it provides easy and secure access to crypto and fiat currencies. As part of its U.S. expansion, Wirex has partnered with Zero Hash, Checkout.com, Visa, and Sutton Bank.
⟫ Richardson-based immigration firm BAL is growing its footprint with a new office in Denver. It’s the fifth new office opening in five years for the firm that provides corporate immigration services. From investor visas for startups to immigration programs for some of the world’s biggest companies, BAL aims to help companies address a tech talent gap by helping to mobilize talent from around the globe.
⟫ 95-year-old Fort Worth activist Opal Lee campaigned for years to make June 19 a national holiday. She saw her vision become reality on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed it into law. Now “the Grandmother of Juneteenth” has been nominated for a 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.
To read Follow the Money, go here.
Friday, February 4
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ Fort Worth’s Panther Island Dream Gets More Real with $403M Federal Funding
⓶ Toy Story: Why a Former CyrusOne CEO Is Creating Homes for Grownups’ Playthings
⓷ He Sent Israel’s First Spacecraft to the Moon—Now His Flytrex Drones Will Deliver Burgers to DFW Back Yards
⓸ Freakonomics Does Dallas, Part 2: Why Frisco is Dallas’ ‘Frenemy’
⓹ MassChallenge Kicks Off North Texas Launch at Pegasus Park With Pitch Competition
⓺ Backed by Big-Name Athletes, PlayersTV Lands ‘Seven-Figure’ Deal to Fuel Expansion
⓻ Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co. Tops Out Its Deep Ellum Facility
⓼ Forces for Good: AT&T Commits $1M to Southern Dallas Thrives, $300K Is Awarded to Five Dallas Nonprofits, and More
⓽ Dallas-Based Island Emerges from Stealth with Nearly $100M in funding, 100+ Employees
⓾ I-35 Deck Park by Dallas Zoo Will Have Major Wow Factor—and a Driving Mission
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ MARK CUBAN CHOKES UP
The Dallas billionaire made his most recent ‘Shark Tank’ investment—one based not solely on the business, but also the founder behind it.
On the last episode of the ABC show, Cuban invested $400,000 in exchange for a 15% stake in Baltimore-based Tania Speaks Organic Skincare, a beauty product brand launched by 19-year-old Tania Speaks.
It wasn’t just the numbers that stood out to Cuban, though they are impressive, with an annual revenue of $1.4 million at the time of filming. It was also Speaks’ journey. She founded the company in 2017, after being bullied in school over her “thick and unruly” eyebrows, and has since built it up to the point where she was able to pocket around $700,000 last year.
“This isn’t my wheelhouse… but my wheelhouse is helping guide amazing entrepreneurs and helping them deal with the legal landmines that come along,” a choked-up Cuban said on the show, while asking Speaks to meet his children to teach them about entrepreneurship. “Maybe I can’t help with eyebrow cream and some of the other stuff, but I can give you guidance that can help you avoid a lot of the pitfalls.”
⓶ GOING PUBLIC
About six months after forming, a local SPAC has made its public debut.
Fort Worth-based Kimbell Tiger Acquisition Corporation, an indirect subsidiary of oil and gas mineral and royalty firm Kimbell Royalty Partners, hit the New York Stock Exchange with shares trading at $10.05 (slightly higher than the $10 per share it was initially seeking) under the ticker TGR.U.
The IPO is expected to bring in around $200 million. The SPAC said it will be targeting businesses in the North American energy and natural resources industry to merge with. Under the terms of the offering, Kimbell Royalty Partners will own 20% of the SPAC’s issued and outstanding common stock.
According to SEC filings, Kimbell Tiger is led by Zachary Lunn, a former manager for Cobra Oil & Gas Corporation. Kimbell Royalty CEO Bob Ravnaas serves as the SPAC’s chairman.
USB Investment Bank was the book runner.
“The target market is expansive, as the sector is populated with many stranded assets across North America, and there is currently no natural consolidator of longer-lived, mature, shallow-decline assets,” Kimbell Tiger wrote in its S-1 filing. “There is also limited liquidity for existing owners of non-core upstream assets that TGR would target for consolidation.”
⓷ BIG-DOLLAR DONATIONS
A handful of local nonprofits are receiving a financial boost.
This week, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated more than $130 million to organizations across the country. Locally, the nonprofit
CIS focuses on dropout prevention and works with more than 200 campuses in the region. CIS of North Texas received $3.3 million—the largest donation in its history—which was the same amount that CIS of the Dallas Region received. CIS of Tarrant County received the largest donation at $4 million.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the money will help expand CIS’ programs to more campuses, in addition to expanding its clinical mental health team.
“This gift ensures the stability of our work and the fulfillment of our mission and our promise to students across North Texas,” said Ann Pape Wilson, CIS of North Texas CEO, in a statement.
⟫ MAMA MIA: Denver-based fast casual chain Mici Handcrafted Italian has announced three multi-unit franchise agreements across the U.S., including a multi-unit deal in the Dallas market. Founded in 2004 by the Miceli family, the company says its recipes have been handed down for generations—but its tech is freshly updated. Mici patented its automated pizza press in 2019, ensuring uniformity and making it easy for any employee to be a pizza chef. It also updated its tech stack with new point-of-sale hardware and a new online ordering system.
⟫ Tech hiring remains hot in North Texas. The Dallas metro ranked No. 3 in the U.S. in January with 14,916 employer job postings for tech positions, according to a report from CompTIA. In the U.S. overall, tech companies added 24,300 workers last month, marking the 14th consecutive month of job growth. IT occupations throughout the U.S. economy increased by 178,000, driving the unemployment rate for tech occupations down to 1.7%. January job postings for new tech hiring totaled nearly 340,000 nationwide.
⟫ Dallas-based PAI, a leader in ATM portfolio management tools and services, has acquired Texas-based TouchPoint 21, a leader in ATM and cash management outsourcing for financial institutions. The acquisition brings a mature, managed service model to PAI, enabled by TouchPoint 21’s expertise in advanced ATM and Interactive Teller Machine (ITM) terminals. Touchpoint 21 also brings its in-house servicing and armored teams to the PAI table.
Thursday, February 3
⓵ AIMING FOR NET ZERO
A Dallas-based midstream asset developer and operator is looking to invest in clean energy.
Rimrock Energy Partners is teaming up with North Carolina’s 8 Rivers Capital, a developer of sustainable solutions, to deploy carbon-cutting technology across its portfolio. 8 River’s technology focuses on clean hydrogen and ammonia technology, direct air capture and retrofit carbon capture.
Initially, the technology will be deployed at Rimrock’s natural gas processing facility in Pierce, Colo.—where a large portion of Rimrock’s assets are located—with plans to expand that to Rimrock operations across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and other states.
“Through deployment of meaningful innovation and sustainable operations, we are eager to take part in this next step alongside 8 Rivers,” said Rimrock CEO Josh Cruzan in a statement.
⓶ RESTAURANT OF THE FUTURE?
Wingstop (NASDAQ: WING) is bringing “the restaurant of the future” to Dallas.
The Addison-based chain opened the doors to a prototype restaurant at its Lovers Lane location. The 1,300 square-foot space (about 400 square feet smaller than its typical stores) will serve as an innovation lab, allowing the company to test out new equipment and layouts, in addition to operating as a functioning restaurant, although this one is carry-out only. WingStop said delivery and carry-out orders account for nearly all of its total orders.
The prototype restaurant will also be a completely cashless environment and will focus on using more sustainable practices, along with new uniforms for staff.
“A glimpse into our Lovers Lane location is a glimpse into the future of Wingstop,” said Marisa Carona, Wingstop chief growth officer, in a statement.
⓷ THE GAMES DON’T STOP
After teasing its plans to enter the web.3 space last year, Grapevine’s GameStop unveiled a partnership with Australian blockchain startup Immutable X to launch an NFT marketplace later this year.
As part of the move, the two companies are setting up a $100 million fund that they plan to distribute to developers creating non-fungible tokens for the marketplace. Immutable, which is built on the Ethereum network, will pay GameStop up to $150 million worth of its IMX currency, pending certain milestones.
GameStop is billing its marketplace as a place to purchase and sell in-game assets. The announcement comes as the “meme-stock” videogame retail is looking to focus more on e-commerce.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
⟫ CASHING IN
A local cash automation solutions firm has been acquired to become part of a new Dallas-based company.
GardaWorld, a Canadian security giant, has scooped up Carrollton-based Tidel and inked a definitive agreement to acquire the cash management business of Sweden’s Gunnebo Group, combining them into a new cash ecosystem performance and tech company to be named Sesami Cash Management Technologies.
Sesami, which is planting the headquarters for its more than 300-person team in Dallas, will operate as independent entity of GardaWorld. According to the company, Sesami has more than $1.02 billion in revenue. Combined, is spending about $710 million on the acquisitions.
Stéphane Gonthier (above), who previously headed GardaWorld’s cash services business, will serve as Sesami’s CEO. Tidel CEO Darren Taylor has been tapped to lead Sesami’s intelligent devices business, while Gunnebo President Christian Weisser will head up the company’s managed services business.
⟫ Investing in ‘Silicon Hills’: Marking the first asset in its $150 million RE High-Growth Fund IV, Dallas-based real estate investment firm CONTI Capital has acquired Pioneer Hill, a 300-unit new construction community in northeast Austin by Fort Worth homebuilder D.R. Horton. According to CONTI, it’s targeting 10% to 14% ROI with a three- to five-year hold period on its fourth fund.
⟫ Keeping track of the supply chain: Speaking of acquisition news, Westlake-based risk management software firm Solera is set to acquire California’s Spireon, a telematics company focused on fleet and asset management, from Greenbriar Equity Fund IV, L.P. Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close this quarter, were not disclosed. Solera CEO Darko Dejanovic said the deal with help expand its customer base and addressable market.
⟫ Investing with an impact: In other investor news, TPG Rise Climate, part of Fort Worth- and San Francisco-based private equity giant TPG’s impact-focused arm, has inked an agreement to purchase $500 million in convertible preferred equity in Nextracker from California manufacturing solutions provider Flex. The investment gives the solar tracking software company an implied enterprise value of $3 billion. As part of the deal, TPG Vice Chairman Jonathan Coslet and TPG Rise Business Unit Partner Steven Mandel will join Nextracker’s board.
⟫ Food for thought: Let’s keep it rolling. Fort Worth food service distribution giant Ben E. Keith Foods acquired Florida Food Service. Financial terms were not disclosed. Ben E. Keith is planning to turn Florida Food’s 86,000 square-foot distribution center into its Ben E. Keith-Florida Division, the ninth division for the company. As part of the deal, Ben E. Keith veteran Marco Di Giosia will head up the Florida division as general manager.
Wednesday, February 2
⓵ WOMEN X TECH
The DEC Network will host its inaugural Women X Tech event tomorrow (Thursday February 3) as part of its continued strategy of uplifting women entrepreneurs—especially those in the tech world. And don’t worry about the winter storm—it’s a virtual event, and it’s free.
Scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Women X Tech is designed to help women founders from all tech industries connect, learn, and grow their businesses.
A series of 30-minute Lightning Talk rounds will be interspersed with keynote and masterclass speakers. Attendees will be able to gain insights on securing funding in the tech industry, along with other strategies for success. Read our story here to learn more and see how to RSVP for free.
⓶ A&M DOES DALLAS
Texas A&M-Commerce has dropped a new campus in Dallas.
After announcing plans in March 2021, Texas A&M-Commerce has opened the doors to its new—approximately 50,000 square-foot—campus in North Dallas. Although, students have been taking classes there since November, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The Dallas campus, located on the top two floors of 8750 N. Central Expwy., hosts the school’s College of Business and College of Education and Human Services. The university also said it hopes to “synergize with area industries in workforce development and reskilling.”
The new location adds to Texas A&M-Commerce’s North Texas presence, with other sites in Frisco, Mesquite, and McKinney.
“We believe high-quality, affordable higher education should be within the reach of anyone who is motivated to seek it,” said Bill Mahomes, VP of the A&M System’s board of regents.
⓷ (BIO)ENGINEERING FOR THE FUTURE
Late last year, UT Dallas and UT Southwestern broke ground on a new biomedical engineering and sciences building to help fuel collaboration and education between the two universities’ programs. Now the institutions have tapped someone to launch and lead its new Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Taking over the role is Samuel Achilefu, PHd.. In addition to serving as a fellow at numerous organizations, including the National Academy of Inventors, the Royal Society of Medicine and the International Society for Optics and Photonics Engineers, Achilefu has served nearly two decades at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The new, 150,000-square-foot biomedical engineering center will be located near UT Southwestern’s medical school in Dallas and is expected to be completed in 2023.
“The new era of technological revolution is transforming the world as we know it,” Achilefu said in a statement. “From a biomedical engineering perspective, the merging of biological with medical engineering presents a unique opportunity to create innovative systems and methods to transform the current disease- care system into a genuine health care enterprise.”
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Krista Software, a Dallas-based business automation platform, has landed a $15 million funding round led by Denver’s Grotech Ventures.
“Our customers build automated businesses and transform them using machine learning that they didn’t imagine was possible,” said Krista CEO John Michelsen in a statement. “Krista enables them to do this in minutes instead of waiting months and accelerates innovation.”
The raise was joined by early-stage firm Rally Ventures and Oregon software firm iGrafx. According to Crunchbase, the new money brings Krista’s total to more than $20.5 million, following a $4.6 million seed round in 2019 led by Rally and a $1 million pre-seed round in 2016—the same year the company was founded. Read more in our story here.
⟫ PEDAL TO THE METAL
Irving’s Commercial Metals Company, a manufacturer, recycler and fabricator of metal products, announced a proposed tax-exempt bond financing of $150 million.
The proposed financing is in connection with $150 million in exempt facilities revenue bonds issued by the Maricopa County Industrial Development Authority in Arizona, which will be repaid by Commercial metals. Both bonds will go towards financing a part of a new micro mill Commercial is planning in Mesa, Ariz.—where Commercial currently has operations.
The move follows Commercials closing a $600 million senior note offering late last month, which the company said helped contribute to its “record high” adjusted EBITDA of $835 million in 2021.
⟫ WHEELING AND DEALING
Local meal-delivery startup Icon Meals, which focuses on healthy foods, is aiming to raise between $15 million and $20 million in new funding. And, it’s already secured $3 million of that, the Dallas Business Journal reports.
The new funding would help fuel the startup, which launched more than five years ago, in adding around 8,000 square feet of space to its Dallas facilities. It also plans to use the funding to hire new execs and add to its marketing and logistics operations.
According to the DBJ, Icon is expecting revenue to grow by around 40% in 2022.
⟫ FUELING THE FOOD OF TOMORROW
Harvest Returns, a Fort Worth-based crowdfunding investment platform focused on agricultural technology and innovative practices, is raising a new fund.
According to a filing with the SEC, the firm reported raising $325,000 in equity out of a nearly $1 million offering from 21 investors for a fund titled Harvest Invest-036 LLC.
Since forming in 2016, Harvest Returns has raised around $20 million to fund more than 35 farms and ranches, while distributing $3.5 million to investors – it’s website states.
⟫ Four Dallas-Fort Worth companies have made Fortune’s list of theTop 100 World’s Most Admired Companies for 2022. Southwest Airlines tops the list locally at No. 28; Charles Schwab Co. ranks No. 47; engineering giant AECOM lands at No. 55; and AT&T dials in at No. 77. Heading up the list from 1 to 5 are Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Pfizer, and the Walt Disney Company.
⟫ Speaking of Southwest Airlines, top executives with the company told CBS DFW that they may be considering expanding their operations and offering flights from a second North Texas airport later this decade. Gary Kelly, who stepped down as Southwest CEO to became executive chairman, was replaced as CEO yesterday by Bob Jordan. “The thought that we would be sitting in the DFW area for 25 years and not grow makes no sense,” Kelly told CBS DFW yesterday. “So yes, I think we’ll have opportunities later on this decade to think about how we might want to expand.”
⟫ Dallas-based “fully digital” life insurance startup Bestow aims to hire up to 150 more employees this year to build on its strong revenue growth over the last two years, reports the DMN. The company said this week that it doubled its revenue year-over-year in 2021. It cited trends ramped up by the pandemic and its appeal to younger consumers for its leap in growth.
Tuesday, February 1
⓵ FINANCIAL EQUITY
As we begin recognizing Black History Month, two local founders have found their own national spotlight.
In an Inc. article showcasing Black founders from across the country who are helping to tackle systemic equity issues in the country’s financial system, Dallas entrepreneurs Craig Lewis, founder and CEO at Gig Wage, and Dennis Cail, founder and CEO of Zirtue, were featured.
The piece is worth a read for the way it weaves the founders’ personal narratives into their startups’ journeys. It’s also worth it because of the impact both Zirtue and Gig Wage have made since forming in 2018 and 2014, respectively.
Relationship-based lending platform Zirtue processed more than $30 million in loans last year. And Gig Wage, a fintech payroll platform for the gig economy, has raised more than $15 million in funding.
⓶ TAKING CRYPTO INTO THE LIGHT
While it hasn’t decided on the exact avenue, Dallas cryptocurrency trading platform Aurox is aiming to go public this year, the Dallas Business Journal reports.
Despite recent crypto market drops, CEO Giorgi Khazaradze said Aurox has seen “rapid growth,” with more users entering the space due to recent headlines and buzz created by markets like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Overall, the company saw its user base grow by more than 1,000% to about 60,000 registered traders.
Aurox’s entrance to the public markets could come via a reverse merger deal or a listing on the OTC market, with future plans to uplist to a larger exchange. Ultimately, the company hopes the move will attract users that have been traditionally restricted from crypto trading, like institutional investors, by providing more regulation and transparency.
Khazaradze told the DBJ the company chose this route over VC funding, because that “didn’t align with our vision of the company.”
⓷ TP SHORTAGE LEADS TO MILLIONS
After launching their browser extension near the beginning of the pandemic, three UT Austin grads from DFW are making their exit.
Austin’s OctoShop—which was founded by Plano native Rithwik Pattikonda, Irving’s Darshan Bhatta, and Siriram Hariharan of Houston—is being bought by online marketplace company Ibotta in a “multimillion-dollar” deal, the Dallas Morning News reports. Exact terms of the deal, which took place in December, were not disclosed.
OctoShop was initially launched as InStok in early 2020 as a way to help the co-founders’ parents track an elusive commodity at the time: toilet paper. The company’s software, which integrated with Ibotta earlier this month, allows users to see the price of online goods across multiple platforms.
“The pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways, including the way we shop, the impact of supply chain issues and the rising cost of goods,” Bryan Leach, Ibotta’s founder and CEO, told the DMN.
Monday, January 31
⓵ PARKING PAYS
Dallas-based startup ParkHub has received a growth investment of around $100 million from Philadelphia’s LLR Partners.
The transaction will accelerate continued growth for the company, which provides software and hardware services for the parking industry.
“There’s a macro shift going on across all different parts of the market, but specifically in parking and the end markets he serves,” Ryan Goldenberg, principal at LLR, told Dallas Business Journal. “There’s a trend towards digitization, toward electronic payments—and all boats rise with the tide, and ParkHub is the beneficiary of that.”
ParkHub’s clients include local venues like American Airlines Arena, Globe Life Park, and AT&T Stadium. The firm’s systems and API-driven platform give clients a “bird’s-eye view” of their parking lot operations.
⓶ EXPANDING THE CENTER
The Fort Worth City Council has voted to expand the city’s convention center with $52 million in ARPA rescue act funds.
The funds will fuel the first phase of a planned $500 million expansion, beginning in spring 2023. Phase 2 will be where the real action is, though—it will include demolishing the FWCC Arena to make way for nearly 100,000 square feet of exhibition space, a new 60,000-square-foot ballroom, and additional renovations.
FWCC officials say Phase 2 awaits funding until hospitality taxes recover from the pandemic enough to support $450 million in newly issued debt, according to the Trade Show News Network.
⓷ IT ALL ADDS UP
Universities in North Texas get a lot of recognition, but UT Dallas just got one that no other institution in Texas can boast.
The university’s actuarial program has been recognized by the Society of Actuaries as a Center of Actuarial Excellence, joining only 19 other elite programs in the U.S. with the society’s highest designation.
UT Dallas is the first institution in Texas and the only one in the Southwest to earn the distinction.
“Together, mathematicians, statisticians, actuaries, and data scientists built a unit without boundaries between us,” said Dr. Vladimir Dragovic, professor and department head of mathematical sciences, in a statement.
Actuaries are projected to be among the 20 fastest-growing jobs this decade—and among those, the profession with the third-highest median annual wage.
⟫ You don’t have to fly to Africa’s wild kingdom to see nature in action—it’s happening right in your own back yard. Now Nick Mirro is capturing it in his streaming service of nature doc shorts, Dallas Nature Channel. A master naturalist with a degree in organismal biology, Mirro works with a volunteer video crew to capture everything from bees to coyotes to wolf spiders. ““Our mission is to showcase prominent Dallas-area naturalists, interesting wild spaces, and fascinating wild organisms,” Mirro told the Advocate. “We work to show beautiful and highly detailed footage of easily overlooked wildlife.” It’s all captured in 4K footage, HQ audio, and up-close-macro insights.
⟫ Exxon Mobil is moving its headquarters from Irving to Houston in a cost-cutting move, the company announced Monday. “Aligning our businesses along market-focused value chains and centralizing service delivery provides the flexibility to ensure our most capable resources are applied to the highest corporate priorities and positions us to deliver greater shareholder returns,” the company’s chairman and CEO, Darren Woods, said in a statement.
⟫ Last week, Dallas-based co-working startup WorkSuites announced it was expanding into McKinney’s District 121 building. Now it’s making moves in Irving, with a plan for another location at 511 E. Carpenter Freeway. The 36,000-plus-square-foot location is slated to open this summer, reports the DBJ.
Friday, January 28
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ Mark Cuban Launches His Online Cost-Plus Pharmacy, Takes on Big Pharma with Low‑Cost Generics
⓶ Freakonomics Radio Asks ‘Why Is Everyone Moving to Dallas?’
⓷ Fort Worth’s Panther Island Dream Gets More Real with $403M Federal Funding
⓸ Dallas Unicorn o9 Solutions Announces $296M in New Funding and a $2.7B Valuation
⓹ Hedera Will Open-Source Its Hashgraph Code to ‘Capitalize on Growing Demand for Public DLT’
⓺ SMU Gets $50M for New End Zone Complex for Gerald J. Ford Stadium
⓻ Starship Technologies Launches Robot Food Deliveries at SMU
⓼ WeWork Acquires Dallas-Based Common Desk
⓽ Seed Accelerator Health Wildcatters Is Moving to Dallas’ Pegasus Park
⓾ Texas Women’s Foundation Names Seven Honorees for Its Leadership Forum and Awards Celebration
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ MASSIVE LAUNCH
MassChallenge kicked off its North Texas launch at Pegasus Park Thursday night with the first-ever pitch competition it has held in the region.
The Boston-headquartered accelerator program already had two other footprints in Texas. The Pegasus Park location completes the “Texas Triangle,” linking the nonprofit’s Dallas, Austin, and Houston offices.
At the launch Thursday, five early-stage startups competed for a spot in MassChallenge’s 2022 early-stage program and a chance to take home $10,000 in equity-free cash. The winner: biotech startup Avsana Labs, a UT Dallas spinout developing tech to detect and monitor pathogens and protein biomarkers.
Read more about MassChallenge and Thursday night’s event here.
⓶ INNOVATIVE OPENING
Former Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith and UNT Dallas celebrated the opening yesterday of the university’s programs at the 4315 Innovation Center in South Dallas.
The 30,000-square-foot center, developed by Smith’s E Smith Communities, is a mixed-use facility providing commercial office/workforce training and retail space, aiming to create a direct pipeline for jobs creation. It houses other community organizations including Dallas College’s Cedar Valley campus, which is providing high school equivalency education and job training, notably in construction.
UNT Dallas programs at the center will include a community youth development program designed to build pathways to economic opportunity, and law enforcement professional development workshops.
Speakers at the event included political leaders, UNT Dallas officials, and the Hall of Famer himself. Read more in our story here.
⓷ TOP 10 ON EARTH
Dallas has made the list of the Top 10 Tech-Savvy Cities in the World.
The list, compiled by U.K.-based Money, compared 30 global tech cities on tech job earnings, successful tech startups founded in the city, the tech pedigree of local universities, and more, as seen in the key above.
Dallas clocks in at No. 10 in the entire planet. No other Texas cities made the list. Six U.S. cities topped the list, in order from No. 1 to No. 6: Denver, Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco. See the full list and read more here.
⟫ Texas now has more jobs than it did before the pandemic, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission. The Lone Star State ended 2021 with just over 13 million nonagricultural jobs. That’s around 89,600 more than in February 2020, before COVID-19 began to impact the country.
⟫ The city of Richardson is looking to launch operations at The Richardson Innovation Quarter (The IQ) in April or May. The 1,200-acre area east of North Central Expressway will have major participation from the University of Texas at Dallas—which plans a Venture Development Center, the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a new mobility center, and an applied technology school to all have homes at The IQ, as we reported here.
⟫ Freakonomics Radio spent the last two weeks talking about how everyone is moving to Dallas and its wider metro area. The latest U-Haul Growth Index has more proof. Grapevine, Richardson, and Carrollton were among the Top 25 cities in the U.S. in 2021 attracting in-bound moves with U-Haul trucks, ranking No. 15, 22, and 25 respectively. Overall, Texas was the No. 1 “U-Haul Growth State” of 2021.
Thursday, January 27
⓵ GREAT PLACES TO WFH
Seven cities in metro Dallas-Fort Worth have made a list of the Top 100 Best Cities to Work Remote in 2022.
Compiled by Dwellics, an authority in U.S. city data and personalized advice on where to move, the report analyzed over 50,000 cities in the U.S.—looking at highest internet speeds, best climate, human safety, infrastructure, and finances from property taxes to cost of living to housing costs.
Texas surpassed every other state by scoring seven of the top 20 spots on the list and 17 of the top 50.
Within DFW, Frisco ranked No. 7, Murphy followed at No. 8, Coppell came in at No. 24, and Plano landed at No. 31. Wylie came right after at No. 32, Flower Mound is at No. 37, Allen made it at No. 38,
Texas’ three biggest cities—including Dallas—don’t appear on the list. Dwellics says that reflects the migration of American workers to smaller towns and cities as the popularity, and feasibility, of remote work grows. See the full list here.
⓶ FILM-FRIENDLY FORT WORTH
Fort Worth has landed on the list of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker, debuting at No. 25.
The annual list is published by MovieMaker, an L.A.-based magazine and website. Dallas appeared once again on the list this year, slipping from No. 12 to No. 15.
One reason for Fort Worth’s fresh Hollywood glow: The Paramount+ hit “1883,” a prequel series to “Yellowstone,” was shot in and near North Texas last year, notes Culture Map Dallas.
⓷ AR SPORTS BAR
iCompete Experience, a high-tech, AR-powered sports “eaterentertainment” experience, is opening in Lewisville soon.
The new, 30,000-square-foot concept will be located at Lewisville’s Music City Mall. Besides having a restaurant and upscale sports bar vibe with a 20-foot LED TV and 40-selection “wine wall,” its truly big sell is offering augmented reality sports experiences.
Various areas of iCompeteX will offer cutting-edge golf simulators by KGolf, golf, swank iCX baseball batting cages with what looks like a real pitcher hurling 100MPH fastballs; a huge dartboard room with classic darts plus digitized scoring, and iCX axe-throwing lanes.
“iCompeteX was designed to be the future of family entertainment,” Vince Lee, VP of iCompete Entertainment, said in a statement.
A “soft opening event” of iCompete is scheduled for Sunday, February 13, according to the company’s website.
⟫ Irving-based Fuzzy’s Taco Shop will be dishing up a lot more tortillas soon. It’s announced a 50-store agreement with franchisee Richard Maddox, which will include expansion into the South with new markets in Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee, and growth within existing markets in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. All 50 locations will be built with a drive-thru, a first for the brand. Founded in 2003 near Fort Worth’s TCU campus, the brand has nearly 150 franchise- and corporate-owned locations in 17 states.
⟫ The 2022 North Texas Land Absorption Report from Dallas-based Younger Partners reveals record demand for land in North Texas, reports D Magazine. The DFW market still expects to absorb an additional expansion of more than 20,000 acres over the next 15 to 20 years, Younger Partners’ Robert Grunnah tells D.
⟫ The U.S.-Qatar Business Council hosted a business visit to Dallas Tuesday with a goal of expanding and enhancing economic partnerships between Qatar and the State of Texas. Fahad Al Dosari, commercial attaché in the U.S. for the State of Qatar, and Mohammed Barakat, managing director and treasurer of the Board of Directors of USQBC, met with Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson to discuss enhancing business ties.
Wednesday, January 26
⓵ TOP GUN HELPERS
Addison-based Lone Star Analysis, a provider of analytics and guided AI solutions, has been awarded a Direct to Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract totaling nearly $800,000 to support the Naval Aviation enterprise for the Naval Air Systems Command.
Lone Star will use its TruNavigator platform to deliver near-real-time, cartridge-actuated device/propellant actuated device (CAD/PAD) “digital twins” to support service life adjustment decisions.
The digital twins being developed are “failure” twins. They will capture and analyze the accumulation of meaningful stressors for real-time representations of individual component useful life. The project work will be performed in Addison over the next two years.
“Naval aviation continues to experience issues with CAD/PAD shortages, obsolescence, lot failures, diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages, and production and shipping delays,” said Steve Roemerman, chairman and CEO of Lone Star, in a statement. “Lone Star’s software and digital twin technology will help support readiness and safety decisions across multiple naval aviation platforms.”
Last September, Lone Star received new funding from HCAP Partners to fuel an accelerated growth phase.
⓶ STAKING GROUND IN FUNKYTOWN
Copenhagen-based Keepit, a global market leader in cloud backup and recovery, is entering the US market and establishing its U.S. headquarters in Fort Worth.
Keepit is the world’s only independent vendor-neutral and blockchain-based cloud dedicated to SaaS data protection, according to the company.
The news follows Keepit’s September raise of $30 million from growth investor One Peak.
Keepit protects data in key business applications, including Microsoft 365, Google, and Salesforce. Its broad client base of major corporations and institutions spans all sectors and industries globally, the company says.
“With the rise in and prevalence of ransomware, businesses are seeing that it’s important now, more than ever, to ensure that their data is properly backed up,” said Chris Braden, Keepit’s VP of Sales and Channels for the Americas, in a statement. “The fact that Keepit is built on blockchain technology gives us tremendous competitive differentiators and provides our partners with a distinct advantage and protections when it comes to their cloud-based data.”
⓷ TRUSTWORTHY MOVE
Texas Trust Credit Union has launched the Texas Trust Gives Foundation, a nonprofit that will serve as the charitable arm for the credit union, focusing on “touching hearts and changing lives.”
Texas Trust says its foundation will build upon its legacy of “people helping people” by offering academic scholarships to high school students and grants to local schools and non-profit organizations.
The foundation is supported by the Texas Trust Credit Union debit card. Every time a member uses a Texas Trust debit card, the credit union makes a donation to the foundation. The foundation expects to raise more than $150,000 annually, which will be channeled back into the community.
“Supporting our communities is the core of what the foundation is about,” said Washima Huq (above), the foundation’s executive director. “The Texas Trust Gives Foundation will fund initiatives that enhance the education experience for children and make a positive difference in the lives of those being served by the numerous organizations we will support.”
The first grant application process will run from February 1 to the end of March 2022.
Tuesday, January 25
⓵ ACCELERATING TO PEGASUS PARK
Health Wildcatters, a top-ranked Dallas healthcare seed accelerator, is relocating from downtown Dallas to Pegasus Park.
Pegasus Park’s magnetic pull has attracted one healthcare startup after another to the biotech campus near the Dallas Medical District. The accelerator’s relo comes just weeks after Pegasus Park landed one of its biggest tenants to date: UT Southwestern Medical Center announced it is leasing 180,000 square feet of space in Pegasus Park’s main 18-story tower. UT Southwestern‘s Office for Technology Development and other UTSW entities will be leasing six floors in the building.
Read more about the Health Wildcatters move in our story here.
⓶ HEALTHY HIPsters
Plano-based My Possibilities has received a $40,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX).
Staying fit isn’t just for Instagram influencers who live for their next selfie. It’s even more important for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, whose lives can be enriched and improved through exercise and healthier lifestyles.
That’s one of the driving missions of Plano-based My Possibilities, which will use the grant to support its Healthy Lifestyles curriculum, integrating health and fitness activities into daily practice for what it affectionately calls HIPsters—Hugely Important People. Read more in our story here.
⓷ TEACHERS AT HOME
American Landmark Apartments is partnering with Urban Teachers to provide affordable apartments for up to 128 of the nonprofit’s Dallas educators in the nonprofit’s residency program.
Those selected into the program will receive priority placement in a one- or two-bedroom apartment at American Landmark’s Macallan on Ross apartments in Dallas at a “greatly reduced monthly rate” for a one-year lease term.
“We’re delighted to play an integral role in this exceptional program for teacher recruitment and in the future of this area by making these aspiring educators feel welcomed, respected and connected to the community,” Joe Lubeck, CEO for American Landmark, said in a statement. Read more in our story here.
⟫ Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics business has selected Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio of software and services to support its digital engineering transformation. The multi-year contract will help Lockheed Martin accelerate program lifecycles, driving cost savings and fostering greater innovation. “Building off of our experience on the F-35 program, and through close collaboration, Siemens is excited to help Lockheed Martin accelerate production and meet DoD contract requirements for both current programs and new initiatives,” Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO, Siemens Digital Industries Software, said in a statement. (Seen above is the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II production line in Fort Worth.)
⟫ Common Desk isn’t the only coworking business making news this week. WorkSuites, a co-working startup with 20 locations in North Texas and the Houston area, plans to lease more than 30,000 square feet of offices in the new District 121 building (above) opening this summer near State Highway 121 in McKinney, according to the Dallas Morning News.
⟫ Fort Worth-based Simpli.fi, a leader in programmatic advertising and agency management software, today announced that it has acquired CoreMedia Systems, a leading provider of performance media management software used by major performance marketing agencies, media agencies, and brands. The combined company will serve over 1,500 ad agencies and media buying organizations and will employ over 500 team members, Simpli.fi says. “By joining forces and deepening the integration of our platforms, we will be able to deliver powerful new capabilities that integrate the planning and buying of linear and connected television,” Frost Prioleau, CEO of Simpli.fi, said in a statement.
Monday, January 24
⓵ ARTFUL EXPANSION
The Dallas Museum of Art is planning a major expansion to accommodate more than 1,000 new art works.
The DMA has commissioned a planning study from Dallas- based architecture firm Perkins&Will, according to the Dallas Morning News.
“We are now at the very early stages of planning what this will look like,” DMA director Agustín Arteaga told the DMN. “The strategic plan will guide what we’ll do in the future.”
Additional exhibition space will allow for the future display of more than 1,000 mostly contemporary art works the DMA expects to receive in bequests from Robert and Marguerite Hoffman, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, and Deedie and Rusty Rose.
⓶ ‘THE FOUNDHERS CLUB’
CreateHers. BuildHers. DisruptHers. Risk-TakHers. InventHers. InvestHers.
Texas women trailblazing new paths are the subject of a new podcast that features innovators disrupting their industries, building movements, and creating positive social change.
Cortney Gumbleton, the founder of Fort Worth shared commercial kitchen incubator Locavore, says her reality is the guide for the podcasts. After “dramatic” pandemic pivots, the much-loved home for foodie trailblazers closed last year, but she’s continuing her mission to support entrepreneurs with her new gig. Read more in our story here.
⓷ MEATLESS IN BIG D
McDonald’s is expanding sales of its new McPlant burger to 600 restaurants in the Dallas and San Francisco areas starting February 14.
Since November 3, only eight McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. have done test sales of the McPlant—including locations in Irving and Carrollton. That followed tests in international markets including the U.K. and Sweden.
Co-developed with Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat, the McPlant’s patty is made from plant-based ingredients including pea protein, rice protein, potato starch, apple and pomegranate extracts, carrot powder, and more. Overall, the burger has 510 calories, 27 fat grams, 45 carb grams, 22 protein grams, and 11 grams of sugar.
⟫ Dallas-based biotech startup Lantern Pharma has been granted rare pediatric disease designation and orphan drug designation from the FDA for its drug candidate LP-184. The drug is intended for the treatment of pediatric patients with atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors (ATRT)—an aggressive, rapidly growing cancer of the central nervous system. “Historical approaches to treating pediatric ATRT such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy have had largely unfavorable long term outcomes for children, and new options are urgently needed,” said Kishor Bhatia, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Lantern Pharma (above), in a statement. LP-184 is also being pursued as a potential new therapy for pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
⟫ Dallas-based global cybersecurity firm Trend Micro announced today that its threat intelligence infrastructure, Smart Protection Network, stopped over 94 billion cyber-threats heading for consumer, government, and business customers in 2021. The threats were detected by more than five trillion threat queries, a 36% year-on-year jump from 2020. Trend Micro says its SPN “leverages over 250 million sensors across the broadest attack surface globally to proactively protect organizations and individuals faster.”
⟫ It’s not just fast—it’s “hyper fast.” Dallas-based AT&T is introducing multi-gig internet speeds up to 5 Gigs in parts of Dallas-Fort Worth, the company announced today. Speeds of 2 Gig and 5 Gig—which AT&T calls “the fastest internet among major providers”—will be delivered on AT&T Fiber across select parts of the company’s footprint. With many households now doubling as remote workplaces, faster internet speeds can deliver faster file downloads and higher-quality videoconferencing, streaming, competitive gaming, and more. AT&T says it will increase its current fiber footprint to cover 30 million customer locations by the end of 2025.
FROM THE GROUND UP
⟫ A new 10-story building is slated for the Dallas Design District.
Dallas-based Quadrant Investment Properties and Federal Capital Partners, a Maryland real estate investment company, are the forces behind Thirteen Thirty Three, to be located at 1333 Oak Lawn at Dragon Street. (The two have collaborated on other Design District properties in the past.) The building’s design is by Dallas-based Merriman Anderson Architects.
“For some time now, we’ve felt a shift in the way users of office approach their space needs, with a focus more on curating the culture of their companies,” Quadrant founder Chad Cook said in a statement. “We believe there’s significant demand for a smaller-scale office building that still provides the full offering of non-commodity amenities. Thirteen Thirty Three is the culmination of that thought process.”
To lure in all those work-from-homers, the building will have 1,877 square feet of terraces, a fitness center with a view, a ground-floor restaurant with patio, and a “concierge office experience,” along with 120,286 square feet of rentable office space. Construction is scheduled to begin in Q2 of 2022, with delivery in 2023.
⟫ Dallas-based Billingsley Co. is developing a $40 million, two-building, 900,000-square-foot business park in Denton, the Dallas Morning News reports. Located on West University Drive near the southwest corner of I-35 and Highway 380, the park is being designed by Dallas-based O’Brien Architects.
⟫ Industrial just keeps hotter in Dallas-Fort Worth. Now Dallas-based CLX Ventures is putting up three new industrial buildings near DFW Airport. DFW Commerce Center Buildings will offer up to 2 million square feet of space for companies to roll their trucks into, says the DMN.
⟫ When they’re not building industrial, they’re selling industrial. Fort Worth-based MAG Capital Partners has sold three industrial properties across Texas—including a 136,882-square-foot property on Plano Road in Dallas—to an Israeli-based real estate fund, reports the Dallas Business Journal. The other properties are in San Antonio and Lubbock.
Friday, January 21
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ Mark Cuban Launches His Online Cost-Plus Pharmacy, Takes on Big Pharma with Low‑Cost Generics
⓶ North Texas Trailblazers: Here are the Winners of The Innovation Awards 2022
⓷ New Dallas International District to Turn Valley View-Galleria Area Into Global Showplace
⓸ Plano Lay’s Uses ‘Sacred’ Cowboys Soil to Grow Spuds for Limited Edition Chips
⓹ Report: DFW Data Center Market Records Most Active Leasing Quarter of All Time
⓺ The Dallas Foundation Names Four New High-Impact Members to Board of Governors
⓻ Texas Women’s Foundation Names Seven Honorees for Its Leadership Forum and Awards Celebration
⓼ ‘The CliffsNotes of the Courthouse’: Fort Worth-Based Tracts and Austin’s Enverus Release TitleNotes
⓽ The Richards Group Is Changing Its Name to TRG, Reports Ad Age
⓾ Cooper Institute and GreenLight Team Up to Bring a Blockchain ‘Digital Locker’ to Student Fitness
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ ISLAND IN THE MAKING
Fort Worth’s Panther Island isn’t an island—yet. But plans announced Wednesday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could finally bring it to life. The Corps said it will spend $403 million on the final design and build of a 1.5-mile flood-control bypass channel, which will reroute part of the Trinity River near downtown Fort Worth.
The channel will turn 800 acres of land into Panther Island—which the city hopes will become a massive housing and mixed-use entertainment and recreational district, connecting downtown Fort Worth to the city’s cultural district and the Stockyards.
When the channel is completed, perhaps by 2025, according to a Trinity River Vision Authority timeline, it will be up to the private sector to invest in and fully build out Panther Island. Read more in our story here.
⓶ MUSTANG GIVES BACK
The Mustangs are about to get a fancier home corral. The Garry Weber Foundation is giving $50 million to SMU to help construct a three-tiered end zone complex at the university’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
The gift by Weber, a 1958 alum and former SMU football player, is the largest in the history of the SMU Athletic Department. It launches a $100 million facility drive to build the 192,500-square-foot complex, which will anchor Ford Stadium’s south bowl.
The complex will include a team auditorium, new locker rooms, a weight room, meeting rooms, and a full kitchen and training table for SMU’s 484 student-athletes. Football coaches, support staff, and video and recruiting services will also get space inside. Read more in our story here.
⓷ TWO FOR OAK LAWN
Real estate developer PegasusAblon plans to build two new residential towers along Cedar Springs in Oak Lawn.
Mike Ablon, principal at PegasusAblon, and his team have built notable projects in the Design District and Preston Center. He told D Magazine that for the neighborhood in Oak Lawn to survive, new development is needed.
Ablon aims to create an “urban connection point” for the iconic Dallas neighborhood, he told D, saying, “When you go to the Cedar Springs District, where do you gather?”
The answer for many is the long row of bars, shops, and eateries that have long been particularly popular with LGBTQ customers and neighbors alike. When Ablon discussed the potential projects with former Dallas city councilman Ed Oakley, he kept those businesses top of mind.
“I was extremely interested, but only if we could together figure out how to preserve those buildings and establishments,” Ablon told D. “I was not going to be the person who tore down the gayborhood.”
So instead, he plans to redevelop parking lots and set his towers back from the street.
The developer hopes to break ground on the projects by end of 2022 or in early 2023.
⟫ The popular retail center at Sylvan Thirty in West Dallas has been acquired by a real estate fund advised by Crow Holdings Capital. The purchase doesn’t include the 200-unit Lofts at Sylvan Thirty, the Dallas Business Journal reports—because the loft complex was already recently purchased by real estate investors Polaris. Located on Sylvan between I-30 and Fort Worth Avenue, the 47,000-square-foot, eight-building retail center features an array of tenants including CiboDivino Marketplace, Houndstooth Coffee, Whisk Crepes Cafe, Tacodeli, Coopers Meat Market, and Sylvan Avenue Tavern.
⟫ Texas is the No. 2 top-earning esports state in America, according to a new report from the Action Network, with over $12 million in competition winnings. The only state to beat Texas out was California, with $21.5 million. Esports have claimed their space in pop culture, with reports suggesting that competitive gaming brought in 22.6 million monthly viewers this year from the U.S. alone, Action Network says.
⟫ ShiftMed, one of the largest workforce management platforms in health care with over 60,000 credentialed health care professionals, and the National Association of Health Care Assistants, the professional association for certified nursing assistants (CNAs), have joined forces to launch the National Institute for CNA Excellence (NICE). NICE is an integrated training platform featuring a learning management system to recruit, train, certify, and retain CNAs. Its initial launch will be in Texas, with Senior Living Properties LLC as its initial launch partner. The 50-location provider runs properties across the state, including in North Texas.
Thursday, January 20
⓵ TECH TITANS AWARDS GALA
Tech Titans named the top tech winners in North Texas Wednesday night at its annual awards gala, held both virtually and live at the Eisemann Center in Richardson.
Gearbox Entertainment won the corporate Innovation Award, and the Frisco-based company’s CEO, Randy Pitchford, took home the corporate CEO award.
RevTech Ventures Managing Director David Matthews was inducted into the Tech Titans Hall of Fame, while Anurag Jain, managing director of Perot Jain and CEO of Access Healthcare, won the Community Hero award.
Hedera Hashgraph had two wins, one for its co-founder and chief scientist Leemon Baird (Technology Inventors award) and one for co-founder and CEO Mance Harmon (Emerging Company CEO). See more about Hedera in our feature story today.
For the full list of Tech Titans winners, check out this roundup in the DBJ.
⓶ STANDING ALONE AGAIN
Birmingham, Alabama-based Encompass Health Corp. is spinning off the Dallas-launched home health and hospice business it acquired back in 2014.
The spinoff will be rebranded as Enhabit Home Health & Hospice and will continue to be based in Dallas.
The spin-off will result in Encompass Health’s shareholders owning stock in both companies.
“The establishment of Enhabit Home Health & Hospice will further strengthen Enhabit’s focus on high-quality, cost-effective care delivered in the home setting,” the company said in a statement.
Enhabit will operate 251 home health and 96 hospice agencies in 42 states and Puerto Rico, and employee 11,000 people, according to the Dallas Morning News.
⓷ NICE PLACES
Glenn Gehan, co-founder of Addison-based Gehan Homes, has expanded his Austin-based GFO Home business into Dallas.
Gehan launched Gehan Homes with his father and brothers in 1991. Since then it’s grown into the ninth largest private homebuilder in the U.S.
When the homebuilder launched GFO Home in 2018, expanding to Dallas was always the plan, Gehan says.
“The residential market is strong in Dallas, with the second-highest number of people moving here compared to all U.S. metro regions,” Gehan said in a statement. GFO targets the move-up homebuyer with high-end, architect-designed homes.
GFO currently has 54 homes under construction in six Dallas-area communities, and is in negotiations with eight additional communities. The firm recently opened new model homes in Inspiration, a master-planned Wylie community; and in Lakeview Downs, offering one-acre homesites in Lavon Lake’s Highland Park peninsula.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
⟫ DataBank, a Dallas-based colocation, edge computing, and managed cloud services provider, is acquiring CyrusOne’s four Houston-area data centers for $670 million.
With the acquisitions, DataBank’s reach now includes 27 metro markets—the largest geographic footprint of any data center operator in the U.S.
“We’re excited to add the Houston market to the DataBank portfolio,” said Raul Martynek, DataBank’s CEO, in a statement. “With our deep roots in Texas, it was a logical metro for us to expand into and allows us to bring our digital infrastructure and interconnection solutions to the fourth-largest metro in the U.S.”
The news comes in the wake of an agreement by Dallas-based CyrusOne to a $15 billion take-private deal by KKR & Co. and Global Infrastructure Partners.
The data center market has been red hot lately, as Dallas Innovates wrote last week. According to a CBRE market flash, the Dallas-Fort Worth data center market had its “most active quarter of leasing of all time” in Q4 2021.
Read more about the DataBank acquisitions in our story here.
⟫ Veena Somareddy, co-founder of Fort Worth-based Neuro Rehab VR, thanked TiE Dallas Angels on LinkedIn for being a big part of her company’s seed raise. As we wrote back in 2020, the company is changing the game in virtual reality to improve physical therapy recovery.
⟫ Fort Worth-based agriculture crowdfunding platform Harvest Returns showed some good returns today. Pennsylvania-based PittMoss announced that the company has successfully raised $450,000 on the Harvest Returns platform. “We really enjoyed working with PittMoss on their capital raise,” said Chris Rawley, Harvest Returns CEO, in a statement. “They have an innovative, sustainable product that appeals to a wide variety of growers.” Harvest Returns was launched in 2016 by two military veterans to bring agribusinesses together with investors. Its pool of over 9,000 investors has provided more than $20 million in funding to early-stage agribusinesses.
⟫ Dallas-based Cypress Growth Capital has announced a growth capital investment in CORE Inc., an Austin-based, “first-of-its-kind” marketplace serving the property restoration industry. “CORE is at a pivotal point in their growth and with non-dilutive, equity-preserving funding from Cypress, they have the fuel they need to further scale their business,” Cypress Growth Capital Partner Pat McCaffrey said in a statement. The funding’s amount wasn’t disclosed; it will be used primarily for new revenue generation, national marketing, member support services, and product enhancements.
Wednesday, January 19
⓵ YOU GET HELP, AND YOU GET HELP…
The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation is giving $1 million to Teach For America to help address students’ and teachers’ social-emotional needs.
“The impact of this gift will be enormous,” Jessica Guthrie, chief program officer for Teach For America Dallas-Fort Worth, told Dallas Innovates. “By using her platform, Ms. Winfrey has been able to draw attention to the national issue of teacher burnout and the tools available that can help.”
Already, Guthrie said, Dallas-Fort Worth teachers and staff in the program receive 24/7 access to free counseling services through partnerships with BetterHelp and Crisis Text Line. Additionally, they receive training in eight different dimensions in wellness and adult SEL.
Read more about the program and Oprah’s grant in our story here.
⓶ WOMEN LEADERS, HIGH-TECH GIRLS
The Dallas-Fort Worth Alliance of Technology and Women (DFW*ATW), a nonprofit committed to increasing the number of women in leadership and girls entering technology fields, has named its newest Advisory Council members.
Barry Shurkey, CIO of NTT Data Services, has been named incoming chair. He’s replacing longstanding DFW*ATW advocate Valerie Freeman, CEO of BravoTECH.
“I have been so blessed to work with Barry and am thrilled that he will be our new chair,” Freeman said in a statement. “He has been a big champion of women in technology and has provided much valuable advice and counsel to the organization.”
Joining Shurkey in their first year on the council are Saurajit Kanungo, president of Cyber Group, Inc., and Carina Reyes, executive managing director, Ernst & Young Global Consulting Services.
⓷ SOULFUL VEGAN
A soulful new vegan restaurant just opened on the campus of Texas Woman’s University in Denton.
Soulgood—a quick-service restaurant partnership between Pioneer Kitchen and chef Cynthia Nevels (above)—isn’t the first taste of this cuisine North Texas has sampled.
Nevels launched Soulgood as a pop-up in 2014, writes CultureMap Dallas, and currently has contracts with Dallas ISD, AT&T Stadium, UT Arlington, and SMU.
According to CultureMap, she’s also catered for vegan celebs like Billie Eilish and Stella McCartney.
Denton was already a big-time stop on the vegan circuit. It’s the home of the first all-vegan cafeteria, which opened back in 2011 at the University of North Texas. If you’re hungry for a bucket of ribs, you may be disappointed when walking past the city’s many vegan restaurants and eating spots.
As for Nevels, she isn’t just serving up good food—she’s done good works as well. During the early months of the pandemic, Dallas Innovates wrote about how Nevels and Soulgood helped feed first responders working long hours, along with people in hard-hit minority communities in Southern Dallas.
Tuesday, January 18
⓵ SPACEPORT BOUND
Dallas-based engineering giant Jacobs has been awarded a design contract to help build the Houston Spaceport.
Axiom Space has awarded Jacobs the architecture and engineering phase one design contract for the Assembly, Integration and Testing facility planned for the 400-acre spaceport.
When it’s completed, the spaceport will be a launch and landing site for suborbital, reusable launch vehicles as well as a center for innovation.
“Privately funded infrastructure will drive U.S. leadership in space,” said Ron Williams, Jacobs SVP of People & Places Solutions, in a statement. “Jacobs is committed to providing integrated solutions to accelerate the future of commercial space operations.”
The news comes just days after Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced $10 million in Spaceport trust fund grants, including $5 million for the Houston Spaceport Development Corporation and $5 million for one in Cameron County in South Texas, where Elon Musk develops and tests SpaceX rockets.
⓶ THIS JUST IN
Several Dallas-area companies have made the list of America’s 100 Most JUST Companies for 2022.
The lauded locals include Dallas-based AT&T (No. 18) and three Irving-based companies —retail electricity and power generation company Vistra Corp. (No. 53); Exxon Mobil (No. 89); and Kimberly-Clark (No. 96).
The annual list from JUST Capital recognizes U.S. corporations that perform the highest on issues including fair pay, worker health and safety, benefits and work-life balance, ethical leadership, cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace, and producing sustainable products.
Other companies on the list with a strong Dallas-area presence include Microsoft (No. 3), Accenture (No. 17), JPMorgan Chase (No. 28) and Capital One (No. 94).
⓷ CAPITAL COACH
In 2005/06, former Spurs hall of famer Avery Johnson was named NBA Coach of the Year as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. Now he’s CEO of his private equity firm Avery Capital, aiming to buy $300 million in assets, with leverage, in the next 18 months.
Avery (above right with partner and COO John Allan Bailey) founded his Dallas-based firm with Bailey in late 2020. According to D Magazine, the firm focuses on commercial real estate—primarily, assets with long-term leases to the General Services Administration or other government tenants.
“The path to choosing GSAs started when we decided to be a triple net lease fund,” Johnson told D. “When we saw General Motors stop building cars and start manufacturing N95 masks for COVID, we wanted to make sure we were anchored by a tenant that had a long history of paying their rent and the GSA pays under any economic environment.”
Avery’s five-person team has raised more than $30 million to date, D says, quoting the former coach as saying, “I want my journey to inspire minority students who can’t throw a football, dribble a basketball, or sing a rap song. If you can, great. But if you can’t, your brainpower will help you succeed in other sectors in life.”
⟫ The Perot Museum of Nature and Science’s 2022 National Geographic Live Speaker Series will kick off Wednesday, Feb. 16, with evolutionary biologist and ancient DNA research pioneer Beth Shapiro, author of “How to Clone a Mammoth.” The series will also feature large carnivore ecologist Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant on Wednesday, April 13, and underwater photographer Thomas Peschak on Wednesday, May 4. For tickets and more info go here.
⟫ Irving-based Exxon Mobil pledged Tuesday to cut its carbon emissions from operations to net zero by 2050. “This is more than just a pledge,” CEO Darren Woods said on CNBC Tuesday. “We’ve been doing work for several years now to make sure we were confident that we had a line of sight on how to achieve this.”
⟫ Dallas-based Envy Gaming is launching a female-led creator house in the Hollywood Hills, uniting popular lifestyle and Chess personalities Alexandra and Andrea Botez, variety streamer JustaMinx, and VTuber CodeMiko under one L.A. roof. “All four women are uniquely talented and share our vision of creating a space where creators can express themselves authentically and grow their brands together as entertainers in a meaningful and purposeful way,” said Andrew Peterman, chief content officer at Envy, in a statement. “We’re also big believers in what the blend of live production and virtual content will mean for future creators.”
Friday, January 14
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ A Top 10 ‘Hottest U.S. Neighborhood’ Near You: Forney, TX
⓶ Goldman Sachs Expands Marcus’ Consumer Business Footprint in Texas
⓷ New Dallas International District to Turn Valley View-Galleria Area Into Global Showplace
⓸ Dallas-Based Fintech CollateralEdge Adds New VP of Commercial Strategy to Leadership Team in Third Senior Hire
⓹ Fort Worth GM Financial DEI Leader Named Automotive Champion of Diversity
⓺ The Dallas Foundation Names Four New High-Impact Members to Board of Governors
⓻ Sole Source Capital Portfolio Company More Than Doubles in Size With Three Acquisitions
⓼ Proptech Partnership: Dallas-Based Lincoln Property Invests in Commercial Real Estate Startup Dottid
⓽ Two Tuition-Free Montessori-Inspired Bezos Academy Preschools Coming to Dallas College
⓾ Alto is Going 100% Electric as It Expands to Washington D.C. and Silicon Valley
⓵ WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Leading Dallas-based ad agency The Richards Group is changing its name and logo to TRG, according to an Ad Age report.
“We think of this less of a change and more of a transition,” an agency spokeswoman told Ad Age, confirming the change. “Our goal is to celebrate what has made us successful—creativity, collaboration, inclusivity and innovation. Shortening our name allows us to celebrate our past, our present, and our fearless future.”
The move comes just weeks after the agency’s 18-story Uptown Dallas headquarters building (above) was sold to a New York firm and local investors. “It’s undecided” whether TRG will remain a tenant in the building, the Dallas Morning News has reported.
As Ad Age notes, the name change will further distance the agency from its founder Stan Richards, who stepped down in 2020 after making racially offensive remarks during a call about an agency ad. Read more in our story here.
⓶ WAY MORE WAYMO
Waymo Via and J.B. Hunt Transport Services have announced a long-term strategic alliance that will mean more autonomous trucking pilot runs on I-45 between Fort Worth and Houston—with plans “to complete fully autonomous transport in Texas in the next few years.”
We wrote in June about the companies’ earlier pilot test runs of robotically driven freight on I-45, with a driver and technician in the cab to monitor operations.
The expanded collaboration will feature multiple pilots to further analyze the capabilities of Waymo Via, the company’s autonomous Class 8 trucking unit powered by the Waymo Driver, “to address customer needs in realistic scenarios.” The pilots will be conducted in “the same lane” of I-45 as the ones last summer. Read more in our story here.
⓷ GAME ON
Dallas-based Envy Gaming has acquired the full operating rights of Esports Stadium Arlington—the largest turnkey esports venue in North America—for the next eight years.
Envy Gaming will pay $2.35 million over the eight-year period, according to the Dallas Morning News. It acquired the contract from Esports Venues LLC, a group formerly owned by Texas Rangers owner Neil Leibman and other investors.
The action starts soon: The Call of Duty League Kickoff Classic will take place at the stadium January 21-23, with all 12 teams and thousands of fans expected to be there.
“Esports Stadium Arlington is without a doubt the best venue in North America right now for any publisher or league considering an esports event with spectators,” said Geoff Moore, president and COO at Envy, in a statement. “We want to give all people that love gaming the opportunity to enjoy amazing competitions in a social environment.”
⟫ Plano-headquartered Lexus USA will get a bit part for its Lexus NX in the Hollywood disaster movie “Moonfall,” opening in theaters February 4. When a mysterious force sends the moon hurtling toward the earth, a team battles to save the planet. This somehow partly involves jumping an NX hundreds of feet in the air to bounce off a teetering distant plateau. Now that’s brand placement!
⟫ Amazon is planning a store at Galleria Dallas , reports the DMN, and plenty of its employees will be right nearby. The giant company is the largest tenant in the Galleria Towers, which is connected to the three-story mall at Dallas North Tollway and the LBJ Freeway. The 4,500-square-foot store is slated to open later this year.
⟫ Fort Worth-based workwear brand Dickies is about to kick it with a new Dickies Skate Plaza as part of the Fire Station Park expansion project in its hometown. A $300,000 donation from the VF Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dickies’ parent company, will help fund work on the plaza, scheduled for completion by October.
⟫ A newly proposed Amtrak route would provide a passenger rail connection between Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta. Proposed passenger rail routes would include service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and a study for potential Amtrak service between Dallas and Meridian, Mississippi.
⟫ The TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine in Fort Worth was formed in 2015 as part of a long-term vision to bring an innovative allopathic medical school to North Texas — and help relieve a shortage of doctors in the area. This week the two schools said TCU would now be running the medical school, but cooperation between the two will continue for at least the next few years, reports the Fort Worth Business press.
⟫ The beloved former Highland Park Pharmacy space in the new Weir’s Plaza in Dallas’ Knox District will get a new restaurant in 2022—“identity still TBD,” writes Dallas Culturemap. Duro Hospitality, the group behind The Charles, Bar Charles, Greenville Avenue restaurant Sister, landed the location. The fast-growing hospitality firm, which creates unique brands and experiences, founded in 2020 by partners (above) that each bring a specific expertise to the process: Check out Culturemap’s rundown of projects.
⟫ Dallas-based Spirit Realty Capital, a premier net lease real estate investment trust (REIT) that invests in single-tenant real estate, has priced its upsized public offering of 8.2 million shares at $47.60 a share. All the shares are being offered in connection with a forward sale agreement with Morgan Stanley and BofA Securities.
Thursday, January 13
⓵ BIG OPEN
Fort Worth- and San Francisco-based TPG’s market debut is the first big IPO of 2022.
TPG stock landed at a valuation of more than $10 billion, with shares rising 12% immediately after its debut Thursday.
Listed under the ticker “TPG,” the stock rose to $33 from its $29.50 offering price, while markets were down overall.
According to Forbes, the 20-year-old alternative asset management firm is now “one of the world’s most valuable private equity firms.”
TPG isn’t just doing well, it’s doing good. In July, we wrote about how its TPG Rise Climate initiative raised $5.4 billion to help build climate solutions worldwide.
⓶ SAVE THE DATES
Dallas Startup Week, slated for August 7-11, will be billed as “5 Days, 100+ Events, 200+ Speakers.”
The event will mark the eighth year for Dallas Startup Week, which is North Texas’ largest event focused on driving entrepreneurial success, economic impact, and innovation.
For five days, experts will inform and engage participants on topics that include how to market your business, how to obtain seed money, and how to leverage corporate relationships. In addition, networking possibilities abound, offering budding entrepreneurs as well as seasoned ones opportunities to meet and exchange ideas.
Three summits targeting specific groups will include Disrupt Dallas, Women of Innovation, and Corporate Startup Innovation. Read more about the big event in our story here.
⓷ MONSTER DEAL
Dallas’ Deep Ellum Brewing Co. has been acquired by the Monster Beverage Corporation as part of a larger $330 million deal.
The deal is a “springboard” to enter the alcoholic beverage sector, said Monster’s Vice Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer Hilton Schlosberg.
The transaction with CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective LLC, a craft beer and hard seltzer company, will add several brands to the Monster beverage portfolio including Deep Ellum and its Dallas Blonde and Deep Ellum IPA offerings.
The other brands include Cigar City (Jai Alai IPA and Florida Man IPA), Oskar Blues (Dale’s Pale Ale and Wild Basin Hard Seltzer), Deep Ellum (Dallas Blonde and Deep Ellum IPA), Perrin Brewing (Black Ale), Squatters (Hop Rising Double IPA and Juicy IPA) and Wasatch (Apricot Hefeweizen). The transaction does not include CANarchy’s stand-alone restaurants.
Wednesday, January 12
⓵ BLACK IN TECH SUMMIT
Capital Factory and DivInc have announced the next $100,000 challenge at the 4th Annual Black in Tech Summit in Austin on February 10.
Any tech or consumer startup in Texas with a black founder or co-founder can apply to pitch at the summit and investment showcase. Five startups will be selected to pitch to a panel of entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and investors.
At least one of the startups will walk away with a $100K investment, plus an array of benefits including up to $250,000 in hosting credits from AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and other hosting providers, $10,000 in legal services from Baker Bots, access to Capital Factory’s mentor network, and more.
Past winners include Dallas startups YouGoNatural and Shearshare.
Deadline to enter is January 24 and entry info is here.
⓶ ROLLING TO MCKINNEY
Autix Automotive, the startup that won CodeLaunch DFW last November, is officially moving to McKinney with a grant from the McKinney Economic Development Corporation’s Innovation Fund.
Autix brings automotive hobbyists, enthusiasts, vendors, and dealers together on a platform dedicated to highlighting not only a vehicle, but the ride’s owner and a curated value metric for their specialty wheels. Its founder and CEO Jake Hamman is seen above winning at CodeLaunch.
The company plans to use the grant to relocate one position and create a minimum of nine new jobs over the next three years, bringing their total number of employees to 10, with an average salary of $65,000. Its initial home will be Common Desk McKinney Square.
Autix is in the midst of its initial $2.5 million seed-round fundraising campaign, and has been selected as a Top 100 Finalist out of over 750 applicants for the Startup of the Year Summit to be held in Tampa, Florida at the end of January.
⓷ STUDENTS KNOW HOW IT FEELS
Nine out of 10 college students say their campuses face a full-blown mental health crisis.
So says a new survey by Fort Worth Telehealth TimelyMD.
“When it comes to COVID, there’s a misperception that college students are ‘over it,’ and that’s simply not true. The majority of students are experiencing a continued state of heightened awareness and emotional exhaustion,” said Alan Dennington, M.D., chief medical officer and co-founder of TimelyMD. “Every time it starts to feel like things are getting better, another setback or variant emerges. Students get this hamster wheel feeling of, ‘When is this ever going to end?’”
⟫ Fort Worth’s old Klan hall building in Panther Island has sold to an arts coalition. The former KKK building on Main St. will be transformed into a hub for the arts—and a site for healing. Here’s a look at early plans for the Fred Rouse Center.
⟫ Dallas-based advisory firm Capstone Partners, which raises capital for investment firms, is being acquired by Mizuho America, reports the DBJ.
⟫ The worst pandemic losses of the Dallas-Fort Worth retail real estate market have been made up, reports the DMN, with Weitzmann’s Michelle Caplan saying, “The majority of vacancies were filled by stronger concepts than the ones they replaced.”
Tuesday, January 11
⓵ BIOTECH EXPANSION
Nashville-based biotech firm PathGroup is expanding to the Dallas area, renting a 127,000-square-foot office building in Coppell.
The provider of anatomic, clinical, and molecular pathology services is putting down stakes for its third Texas location in Coppell’s 121 Corporate Center, reports the Dallas Morning News.
“Office product that can accommodate hybrid office, medical, and life science users continues to be in demand in DFW,” Newmark Group’s Nathan Durham said in a statement quoted by the DMN. “PathGroup’s growth and their establishment of a DFW location further demonstrate the momentum of the office market in Las Colinas.”
CapRock Partners, a Southern California-based industrial real estate investor, developer, and asset manager, is expanding into Texas with a new office in the Dallas area.
The firm’s co-founder and president, Jon Pharris, sees Dallas-Fort Worth as “a vital North American logistics hub,” while CEO Patrick Daniels has strong Texas roots and a background at Trammel Crow Company and Hillwood.
CapRock, a fast-growing investor and developer of industrial real estate, aims to add an estimated 10 million SF in new logistics facilities in 2022. It plans to establish a footprint in Dallas/Fort Worth before targeting opportunities in the Houston and San Antonio/Austin areas. Read more in our story here.
⓷ TREE OF LIGHT
They say you can’t improve on Mother Nature. (But they haven’t seen this tree outside The Epic in Dallas’ Deep Ellum district.)
The light sculpture art installation, The Tree of Ténéré, is made of 75,000 LED lights, 12,000 leaves, 120 branches, and 840 twigs. Originally created by a group of artists at Burning Man back in 2017, the uses digital modeling and algorithms that interact with light and wind to transform the tree from moment to moment—yes, with a little help from nature.
The tree is now installed permanently at The Epic.
Monday, January 10
⓵ DALLAS WORKFORCE CZAR
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has named Lynn McBee his “Workforce Czar” to help the city upskill its workforce for the future.
McBee is CEO of a network of STEAM schools for girls across Texas and a board member of the Bridge Homeless Shelter. A philanthropist and a former co-CEO of EarthX, she’s worked in business development with a privately held biotech firm for 27 years, and ran for mayor of Dallas in 2019, placing third.
“I’m excited to work with Mayor Johnson on this issue that’s so important to our city, our families and our future,” McBee said at a press conference today. “Workforce development will not only lift families and communities and create more opportunity and growth, but it also addresses equity, it’s a step forward in eliminating racial barriers, and it’s key to ending systemic cycles of poverty.”
Hiring a Workforce Czar was a key promise of Mayor Johnson’s November 2021 “Upskilling Dallas” report on modernizing the city’s workforce.
⓶ SIEMENS FLIES HIGH
Airbus has selected software from Plano-based Siemens to accelerate the development of its commercial aircraft.
Capital electrical/electronic (E/E) systems development software from Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio will be used to advance new Airbus process design and adoption.
The software delivers “a true, configuration controlled, E/E system digital twin.” Last August, Siemens expanded hiring as it widened applications for its digital twin tech, like the solution Airbus selected today.
“Capital enables customers to establish digital continuity within the electrical domain to compress development cycle time and deliver significant cost reductions,” said Martin O’Brien, SVP of Siemens Integrated Electrical Systems business group. in a statement. “By realizing the benefits of a model-based development process, Capital helps world-class companies like Airbus reduce complexity, lower risk and boost overall productivity.”
Siemens has also helped drive the future of automobile development as well, as we reported back in 2019.
⓷ SELF-DRIVING TO DALLAS?
Dallas is a finalist for a $160 million self-driving facility from Ford Motor Company and Argo AI.
Ford is partnering with the driverless vehicle tech startup to to develop its autonomous vehicles. Dallas and two California cities are the three finalists for the new facility, according to city documents cited by the Dallas Morning News.
In an agreement that will be voted on by the city council Wednesday, Ford would invest $160 million in a site just west of Love Field, including $2.5 million in property improvements and $157.5 million in autonomous vehicle tech. The city in turn would approve $3 million in tax incentives.
“Scaling this technology is key, driving us to explore a variety of cities in the U.S. to expand our self-driving services. We will share more information about our self-driving business in the future,” Ford’s Whitney Pineda said in a statement quoted by the DMN.
⟫ HIGH-TECH SWING
A new GolfTEC training center has opened in Southlake to help duffers straighten their slices and handle their hooks.
The new 2,900-square-foot facility features four indoor training bays powered by TECSwing, using Foresight Sports simulators for lessons, club fitting, and practice. Each training bay is equipped with OptiMotion, a motion tracking innovation that “sets a new standard for how golf swings are measured and the way golf instruction is delivered,” according to the company.
Put off by your putting? The facility also has an indoor putting green with lessons utilizing TECPutt, a motion technology that analyzes face angle, loft, and path direction of putting strokes.
It’s the seventh Dallas-Fort Worth location for Colorado-based GolfTEC, which has over 220 facilities worldwide.
Friday, January 7
The Most Popular Stories on Dallas Innovates This Week
⓵ New Dallas International District to Turn Valley View-Galleria Area Into Global Showplace
⓶ Goldman Sachs Expands Marcus’ Consumer Business Footprint in Texas
⓷ Alto is Going 100% Electric as It Expands to Washington D.C. and Silicon Valley
⓸ Startup Von Perry Is Building a 3D-Printed Home in Collin County
⓹ CBRE Acquires Buildingi to Help Companies Transform Their Occupancy Strategies
⓺ New Texas Instruments Sensor Tech Drives Toward a Collision-Free Future, Advancing Autonomous Driving and Vehicle Safety
⓻ Sole Source Capital Portfolio Company More Than Doubles in Size With Three Acquisitions
⓼ Integrity Marketing Gives Its Employees $125M in Cash, Plus Equity in the Insurtech Firm for All
⓽ Capital One Flies Into Travel With Its First Airport Lounge at DFW Airport—and More Landing Soon Across U.S.
⓾ Mobile Delivery App iJustOrder Brings Food Straight to Your Seat
MORE THINGS TO KNOW
⓵ TOPS IN TECH
Dallas is No. 2 in tech job postings, according to CompTIA’s first tech jobs report for the year.
The topline news from the most recent CompTIA “tech jobs report” holds the region’s ranking from last August. Dallas is second in metro tech job postings, trailing only New York City—and takes the No. 1 spot in tech jobs postings change, with 2,226 more tech jobs posted in December 2021 compared to November.
Texas also mirrored Dallas’ rankings on the state level, second only to California as the top state for new job postings but leading the way in change with 4,588 new tech job postings in December. Read more here.
⓶ CLOSING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
Dallas-based AT&T and Cricket Wireless opened enrollment today for the new federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which lowers the cost of broadband service for eligible customers.
The program’s goal: helping to close the digital divide. Congress recently created the long-term $14 billion program to help more Americans afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare, and more.
Under the ACP, the maximum benefit will change to up to $30 per month for eligible households. The benefit will remain at $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Existing Emergency Broadband Benefit customers will continue to receive benefits of up to $50 per month through March 1. Eligibility requirements can be found here.
⓷ INCOMING INDUSTRIAL
A new logistics center is slated for Southwest Dallas at a time when supply chains remain strained nationwide.
Eider Creek Capital is partnering with a real estate fund advised by Crow Holdings Capital to develop Mountain Creek East Logistics Center, a 467,541 SF speculative industrial development in Dallas. The partnership purchased four land parcels totaling 25 acres located at Dan Morton Dr. and Crystal Lake Blvd.
Construction has begun with completion scheduled for August 2022. The opportunity was sourced off-market by Davidson Bogel Real Estate’s Ricardo Quinones, representing the purchaser.
“Due to unprecedented industrial demand in DFW, developers across the area are forced to find creative solutions including multi-parcel assemblages like this site,” Quinones said in a statement.
Thursday, January 6
⓵ OFFICIAL EXIT
Dallas’ top economic official is leaving his post.
Dr. Eric Anthony Johnson, chief of economic development and neighborhood services for the city of Dallas (no relation to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson) has announced he will resign effective January 28. He’s held the position since February 2020.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax informed the City Council of the news in a memo Wednesday morning, according to D Magazine.
In the memo, “Broadnax credits Johnson with steering $22.2 million in city incentives toward $422.8 million in private investment. Johnson also created an affordable housing fund that, Broadnax writes, helped create 1,843 affordable residential units,” D reports.
While we await his replacement, our economy keeps buzzing. Dallas is launching an Economic Development Corporation, which City council member Tennell Atkins believes will attract businesses to Big D.
“We’ll be able to buy land, hold land, to be able to deal directly with corporations faster than the city of Dallas. But it’s still going to have oversight of the City Council,” Atkins told WFAA.
⓶ CRYPTO INVESTMENT
Dallas-based MoneyGram International has made a strategic minority investment in Coinme, a leading cryptocurrency cash exchange.
MoneyGram will have close to a 4% ownership stake in Coinme. The move closes out Coinme’s Series A financing round and gives MoneyGram a direct ownership position in what it calls “one of the first and fastest-growing cryptocurrency companies in the world.”
“Our unique cash-to-bitcoin offering with Coinme, announced in May of 2021, opened our business to an entirely new customer segment, and we couldn’t be more pleased with our progress,” said Alex Holmes, MoneyGram’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. “As we accelerate our innovation efforts, partnerships with startups like Coinme will further our position as the industry leader in the utilization of blockchain and similar technologies.”
⓷ OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK?
The office market in Dallas/Fort Worth showed signs of life at the end of 2021, although vacancies remained high, according to a Q4 report from CBRE.
Among the biggest leases of the quarter? JPMorgan in the Hunt Oil Tower at 1900 N. Akard St. The financial institution plans to relocate 600 workers to the building in 2022.
PLUS: Yesterday, the Dallas-based commercial real estate giant announced its most recent tech acquisition: Buildingi’s occupancy planning aligns the workplace with a company’s strategy, using data analytics to drive ROI. It’s a fit with CBRE’s “future of the workplace” focus.
Wednesday, January 5
⓵ EIGHT, GET IT?*
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman is “taking on big beer” with the launch of his new light lager beer brand, EIGHT.
The FOX broadcaster spent two years developing the “elite” brewski, which features organic grains, antioxidant-rich Hallertau Taurus hops, no adjuncts or cheap fillers, and no sugars.
“I’ve learned that I’m a better father, friend, and athlete when I’m eating and drinking well,” Aikman said in a statement. “When it comes to grabbing a beer though, I found that my options were limited. If EIGHT hits the market and offers drinkers an option they don’t need to make excuses to enjoy, that will be a huge win.”
Aikman’s team in developing EIGHT included Tom Shellhammer and Jeff Clawson, who led R&D efforts at Oregon State, aided by award-winning brewmaster Phil Leinhart. Doug Campbell, previously president of Brewery Ommegang, joins Aikman as co-founder.
EIGHT will launch on draft in Texas in February in bars, restaurants and other on-premise accounts. EIGHT cans go on sale across Texas in March.
*Aikman won three Super Bowls with an 8 on his Cowboys jersey.
⓶ COLD IS SO HOT NOW
Richardson-based Lone Star Cold Storage has been purchased by Sioux City, South Dakota-based Vertical Cold Storage.
Lone Star’s 227,331-square-foot warehouse features 5.6 million cubic feet of storage space, 17,982 pallet positions, and 40 dock doors. The facility uses an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly ammonia refrigeration system. Its services include blast freezing, case picking, cross dock and EDI capabilities, and kitting support. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
If all that leaves you cold, consider this: Michigan-based cold storage giant Lineage Logistics just raised $1.7 billion in investor backing—and has raised a staggering total of $6 billion since January 2020. To solve America’s supply chain crisis, cold storage is key—and may be hotter than ever before.
⓷ TOOLING A TD
Plano-based Hilti North America has become the Official Tool Partner of the Dallas Cowboys.
Besides getting stadium signage and corporate events at AT&T Stadium and The Star in Frisco, Hilti will help the ‘Pokes put their tools to use. Hopefully that will include something cool like its Jaibot semi-autonomous mobile drilling machine (above).
Over the coming months, Hilti’s team will work with Cowboys operations on solutions for facilities, quick and safe stadium turns for large scale events, and future construction projects.
The international toolmaker relocated its North American HQ from Tulsa to Plano in 2015. It has a test lab and product development center in Irving where it’s “tinkering, testing, and imagining new ways” to make work easier, safer, and more productive.
Hilti North America is also the Official Tool Provider for American Airlines Center in Dallas and the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field in Arlington.
⟫ ELECTRIC IN MCKINNEY: McKinney-based Totem USA, a division of Tianjin, China-based Golden Wheel Group, is releasing its first UL-certified e-bike, the Zen Rider (above). Announced by Panasonic Automotive Systems at CES in Las Vegas yesterday, the bike is powered by a Panasonic mid-drive motor delivering 75 Nm of max torque with a 404 Wh battery. It’s definitely zen speed-wise: pedal assistance maxes out at 15 MPH. Its UL 2849 certification—developed by Underwriters Laboratories—is adding an increased level of safety to the lithium-ion powered e-bike world. No price announced yet, but other Totem bikes range from $799 to $1,899.
Tuesday, January 4
⓵ TPG TICKER TARGET
Private equity giant TPG marked another milestone on its journey to IPO with a target valuation of more than $9 billion.
The Fort Worth- and San Francisco-based investment firm, which filed in December to go public, announced its plans to sell about 28.3 million shares at a price of between $28 and $31. The shares are expected to trade using ticker TPG.
Last May, TPG streamlined its executive function to focus on evolution and growth initiatives, transitioning co-CEOs Jon Winkelried and Jim Coulter (above) to sole CEO and executive chairman, respectively.
⓶ DOC PLATFORM HEADS TO MCKINNEY
Another California tech company will soon call North Texas home.
Irvine-based Review Wave makes software that helps medical practices “acquire patients on autopilot.” Founded in 2016, its platform includes two-way text and online scheduling.
According to the Dallas Business Journal, the company has plans to “create more than 70 new ‘high-tech and executive’ jobs over the next three years, bringing the total to 130.”
⓷ DRIVING A “COLLISION-FREE FUTURE”
Unveiled at CES 2022 in Las Vegas, Texas Instrument’s new sensor tech moves autonomous driving and vehicle safety forward.
The new sensor more accurately monitors blind spots and navigates turns and corners to help avoid collisions.
The need for updated capacity is rising: Some high-end vehicles have a need to quickly process up to 100 million lines of code, said Ryan Manack, director of automotive systems engineering at TI.
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