I’ve been coming to Texas regularly for more than 20 years—first to meet my future in-laws, and ever since to visit a growing extended family network around the state. I didn’t envision opening a Texas business arm on that initial visit (I didn’t have a business), but ever since launching Xconomy in mid-2007, I’ve been looking for the right opportunity to expand to the Lone Star State.
Today, I am extremely pleased to say, that opportunity has come. Welcome to Xconomy Texas, the eighth region in our growing national network, and the second cluster site opened in barely the past month (Boulder/Denver launched in late March).
I am also excited to introduce the editor of Xconomy Texas, Angela Shah. Angela is well known around the state, having worked at both the Austin American-Statesman and, more recently, the Dallas Morning News, where she spent eight years as a senior reporter and columnist covering economics, startups, and more. For the past three years, Angela has been based in the United Arab Emirates, writing about business, finance, and other topics for the likes of The New York Times, Newsweek/Daily Beast, TIME, and Forbes Asia. Angela not only brings a great knowledge of Texas, but a world view of innovation, and I believe readers around our network will be treated to a special blend of Texas stories with global context.
Angela will be living in Houston but responsible for our coverage around the state. Her own welcome post will be coming tomorrow. In the meantime, check out her first news feature, about Houston startup Datafiniti moving to Austin because it can’t find enough software developers in its current home town—a problem it turns out other Houston companies are having (Angela gets at why). Chief correspondent Wade Roush (based in San Francisco) has also contributed a story for our Texas debut. He checks in with Siri co-inventor Adam Cheyer, who left Apple last year but who disputes the findings of a recent Texas A&M Transportation Institute study that says using Siri or Vlingo while driving is just as risky as manual texting while driving.
We have also posted our first guest contribution, from Xconomist Bob Metcalfe (Xconomists are our informal editorial advisors–the full list is here). Bob, a noted technology pundit and inventor of Ethernet, is an old friend from Boston who moved to Austin a few years ago to become professor of innovation at UT. His (typically quippy) post gets at some of the differences between Texas and Massachusetts, but also really celebrates what is happening in his beloved adopted state with the declaration that it is “where energy will be solved.”
Our launch in Texas is especially significant to me because the vision behind Xconomy is to be on the ground in key clusters, telling in-depth stories of innovation in diverse fields from information technology to life sciences to energy and more.
And here’s the thing about innovation—it has no boundaries. All too often, the business media misses what is happening around the country because it follows the easy trails in the main clusters like Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston. We at Xconomy know there’s a lot more important work going on in other cities, and we have always believed the best way to serve our readers is to get those stories firsthand.
With the launch of Xconomy Texas, we are now in every time zone in the continental U.S., a big step forward in building a truly national network. (I’d like to make it a clean time-zone sweep, so if anyone over there in Hawaii can help us build our business there, oh, say around next January or February, let me know! Let’s hold off on Alaska until next summer.)
Our launch in Texas was made possible through the support of a fantastic group of partners around the state: BioMed San Antonio, BioHouston, Capital Royalty, Cooley LLP, Rice University, Texas Medical Center, University of Houston, and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. All these great organizations, innovative leaders themselves, dared to take a chance on supporting an independent media company—because they know the importance of in-depth daily information about what is happening in Texas. Thank you one and all!
Which brings me to another point: you will likely have noticed the new site is called Xconomy Texas, whereas all our other sites are named after cities. Truthfully, in all our regions, we cover stories far beyond the city proper: Boston editors, for instance, cover stories around New England. But as we talked to folks in the Texas innovation community in preparation for our launch, we got a lot of feedback that to single out one city in our name would be doing a disservice to the others. We therefore chose to make an exception with our name to symbolize from the start that inclusive view.
Finally, I want to add a special thank you to two incredible friends who were critical to our launch. The first is David Schubert, executive director of the Houston Area Translational Research Consortium (HATRC, fondly pronounced “hat trick”), which seeks to accelerate advances from the Texas Medical Center (or those drawn to the TMC) into commercial markets. David has known us since our June 2008 launch in Seattle, where he lived at the time. When he recently took a job in Texas, he reached out to Xconomy Seattle editor and National biotech editor Luke Timmerman and urged us to expand there. Not only was innovation abounding, he argued, there was a glaring lack of high-quality coverage about it—the kind Xconomy brings. David introduced us to a series of fantastic people who felt the same, many of whom became partners or Xconomists or helped in other ways.
One of those was Jacqueline Northcut, president and CEO of BioHouston and CEO of Texas BioAlliance. Jacqueline quickly grasped what we were about and gave us a Texas-sized welcome, not only opening up many doors but walking through them with us. I could go on about Jacqueline and David, but let’s just say that when we open the Xconomy Hall of Fame, they will be two charter members.
With that, I will turn things over to Angela. Texas is a huge state, but she won’t be on her own. Every editor across our network is contributing stories to help get Xconomy Texas started, and we have also tapped some great freelance writers in the state. All this was coordinated masterfully by deputy editor Greg Huang, while executive editor Rebecca Zacks and designer Rob Hunter led the integration of the new site into our network, marketing coordinator Thea Bissell worked tirelessly on production and worked with all our partners to coordinate announcement of our launch, and associate publisher Jim Edwards continues to travel far and wide building partnerships and business relations.
But we need your help, too, to keep things going. We hope you’ll let us know about story leads, and consider posting your own opinion pieces in our Xconomist Forum, the Op-Ed section of our site. For either of these purposes, write us at [email protected], or reach out to Angela directly at [email protected].
Again, great thanks to all our friends and partners in Texas and around our network who made Xconomy Texas possible. I look forward to getting to know the Texas innovation community, and hopefully connecting folks in this great state to others around our network.
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