Around Texas: Joseph Kopser, Mark Cuban, REVtech, Founder Institute

Mark Cuban has led a $1.5 million seed funding round in an Austin IT startup, along with investors such as founder Brett Hurt and Barracuda Networks. Meta SaaS provides reports and alerts on abandoned, underutilized, or redundant software licenses before they are auto-renewed, the company says. “SaaS has solved numerous business problems, but it has also created a whole fresh set of pitfalls that can cost companies tens of millions of dollars annually,” Arlo Gilbert, Meta Saas’s CEO and co-founder, said in a press release Wednesday. “The traditional method of tracking SaaS subscriptions and contracts via spreadsheet (if at all) isn’t going to cut it. In many cases, companies have absolutely no idea how many SaaS applications they’re paying for or using.”

—Austin entrepreneur Joseph Kopser officially launched his bid for US Congress Tuesday evening. Kopser is running as a Democratic candidate against US Rep. Lamar Smith, who has held the seat for three decades. I first reported Kopser’s interest in elective politics last March when he told me Republicans have controlled Texas politics for so long that there is no longer a “good competition for ideas.” Kopser’s run for Congress is just one of the ways Austin’s tech community is getting more politically involved. In March, Shion Deysarkar, founder and CEO of Datafiniti, announced he was starting Blue Squad, an effort to link tech experts to progressive candidates running for office.

REVtech, a retail accelerator, will soon move into its own co-working space. The Dallas-based program had been operating out of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center since its founding in 2013. More than 30 companies have participated in the accelerator program and REVtech alumni have raised about $15 million in follow-on investments and created more than 200 jobs, the accelerator reported.

South By Southwest is headed to Germany. The Austin-based events company that holds the annual interactive festival each March announced this week that it is partnering with Mercedes-Benz to produce “me Convention,” which will bring together the tech and design industries. The three-day event will be held September 15-17 in Frankfurt.

—The Founder Institute is setting up shop in Austin. The California-based accelerator is accepting applications from entrepreneurs at the idea stage and will launch a new class of startups in September in the Texas capital, according to the Austin Business Journal. Graduates of the program will have a minimum viable product, positioning them for acceptance into the next stage of accelerators such as Capital Factory or Techstars, the newspaper reported.

And, in case you missed it, here is a recap of the most notable innovation news from Xconomy Texas.

—Rackspace’s former CEO Taylor Rhodes is leaving Texas for Chicago, where he will lead a software company. SMS Assist makes software that aims to help large business chains manage maintenance and property management services for their buildings. Rhodes had been CEO of the San Antonio-based cloud computing company—which was sold to a New York private equity firm last year for $4.3 billion—since 2014.

Higinio “HO” Maycotte answers five questions this week. The Austin-based serial entrepreneur speaks about his family and upbringing in Mexico, his completely digital lifestyle, and how he misses working with his hands.

—Our latest Xconomy Bookclub pick is the novel Startup by longtime Buzzfeed writer Doree Shafrir. The book takes a sharp satirical look at New York’s tech community through the story of an entrepreneur hoping to land the city’s next unicorn with his wellness app. Startup spotlights the sometimes silly nature of startup culture, including the online media outlets that cover it, but also more serious issues in the tech community, such as sexual harassment.

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio scientists have received a five-year, $9.1 million grant funded by the National Cancer Institute. The researchers will use data collection and computational analysis to study why breast and prostate cancers resist anti-hormone therapies and persist in growing. The idea is to identify mechanisms that lead to drug resistance, says Nameer Kirma, a faculty member of UT Health’s department of molecular medicine.

Brett Giroir, the former CEO of Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center, could be joining the US Department of Health and Human Services as assistant secretary for health. Giroir has spent time in Washington before. He served as director of the defense science office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, under former president George W. Bush. The assistant secretary for health leads development of public health policy recommendations, and oversees 12 core public health offices—including the Office of the Surgeon General—and 11 advisory committees.

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