Top of Texas 2016: Big Exits, Ride-Sharing Leaves Austin, & More
As 2016 comes to an end, let’s take a look at some of the more notable stories from Xconomy Texas over the past year. What follows is my highly subjective list of news that we covered in 2016.
Notable exits and fundraises:
—San Antonio cloud computing company Rackspace was bought by New York private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $4.3 billion.
—Houston’s Meshify, an IoT software startup, is bought by insurance company Hartford Steam Boiler, a subsidiary of global insurer Munich Re for an undisclosed amount.
—Dallas biotech Peloton raises $54.2 million to develop its kidney cancer drug candidate.
—Spredfast, an Austin, TX-based maker of social marketing software, raised $50 million in venture funding.
—Austin biotech LDR Holdings (NASDAQ: [[ticker:LDRH]]) is bought by Zimmer Biomet (NYSE: [[ticker:ZBH]]), which is based in Warsaw, IN.
—Austin biotech Lumos Pharma raised $34 million to fund clinical trials for a potential therapy for creatine transporter deficiency (CTD), a disease that is the second leading cause of X-linked mental retardation in males after Fragile X syndrome.
—Goldman Sachs bought Austin fintech startup Honest Dollar for an undisclosed amount. Honest Dollar built software for small- and medium-sized businesses to provide employees with retirement benefits through web and mobile applications.
—Dallas fintech firm StoneEagle Services was bought by FTV Capital, a San Francisco venture firm. StoneEagle sells virtual “credit cards” for business-to-business payments in order to digitize traditional processes such as insurance company payments to healthcare providers.
The Texas Medical Center expands its programs to promote health IT and medical device startups as the Houston life sciences ecosystem grows:
—J&J innovation adds on to its programming at TMC’s Innovation Institute with a new Center for Medical Device Innovation. Earlier in the year, the pharmaceutical company opened its latest JLabs in Houston with 21 resident companies, a medical device prototype lab, and a 3-D printer.
—AT&T opens its Foundry for Connected Health at the TMCx accelerator campus as well. AT&T plans to use its expertise in mobile communications for use in healthcare, such as remote patient monitoring systems that work via a tablet.
—Having programs that cater to young health startups is a start but what about getting them into the commercialization stage? That takes a seasoned bench of executives.
Also, in Houston, a limping oil and gas sector took a toll on its innovation sector:
—Surge Accelerator, which focused on nurturing cleantech startups, shuts its doors after five years.
—Still, ex-Shell VC Alexander Rozenfeld saw opportunity in alternative energy and related investments and started his own firm Climate Impact Capital to pursue them.
—And the Robart brothers in Houston say their energy startup-focused venture firm can stay afloat in challenging industry times.
The San Antonio innovation scene saw a lot of growth:
—Former San Antonio Spur Brent Barry hosted a group of San Antonio investors and entrepreneurs at his home to kick off the San Antonio Angel Network.
—While Rackspace founders have long been strong boosters of San Antonio’s innovation ecosystem, other groups are joining them. The San Antonio Entrepreneur Center opened along with others like Cafe Commerce, the Bexar County Economic Development Department, and Tech Bloc to promote the city’s tech industry.
—San Antonio surgeon George Peoples spent 30 years in the U.S. Army—even deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq—and now is trying to develop and commercialize cancer vaccines. He’s the latest winner of the BioMed SA 2016 Award for Innovation in Healthcare and Bioscience (formerly the Julio Palmaz Award.)
The news that most greatly impacted Austin was likely the citywide referendum that led to Uber and Lyft pulling service from the Texas capital.
Rice University bioengineering professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum was selected as a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, known as the genius grants. Among the projects that she has developed with students is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system at a fraction of the cost for use in underdeveloped countries.
“Five Questions For” got personal with Rise founder and CEO Nick Kennedy in Dallas, University of Texas professor Robyn Metcalfe, Locauleur founder and CEO Joah Spearman, and William Cohn, Houston heart surgeon and serial medical device inventor. In 2017, this feature goes weekly.
Looking for some innovation reads over the New Year’s long weekend? Xconomy Bookclub suggests two books. One is on the business of climate change, while the second is a biography of a boy genius who builds a nuclear fusion reactor—in his garage.
National correspondent David Holley contributed to this report.