Texas Tech: RigUp Funds, TMCx Startups, SpaceX Launch & HQ2 Rumors

The latest cold front that’s swept through Texas doesn’t help the hump day blues, but distract yourself with another cup of something warm and catch up with the innovation news in Texas’s startup ecosystem.

—Austin energy startup RigUp raised $15.8 million in a Series B round, according to a company press release. Investors include Quantum Energy Partners in Houston and Global Reserve Group in New York, as well as existing investors such as Founders Fund. The four-year-old startup has developed what it calls the “Uber of the oilfield,” connecting oil and gas companies with service providers. In total, the 60-person company has raised $33.8 million.

—The Texas Medical Center announced that its TMCx accelerator has enrolled its latest class of startups—digital health companies seeking to use technologies such as analytics, artificial intelligence, and blockchain to improve healthcare delivery. This sixth cohort is made up of 24 startups, with three coming in from Denmark, Australia, and Italy.

SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, marking the first time a rocket of this power was sent into space by a private company. The rocket will eventually launch payloads of up to 141,000 pounds into orbit, twice the capacity of the company’s nearest competitor, the Delta IV Heavy made by United Launch Alliance, Space.com reported. SpaceX has offices and development facilities throughout Texas.

Wellnicity, an Austin startup that makes wellness and home testing kits, announced it has raised $3.6 million in seed funding, the company said in a press release. Capstar Partners in Austin led the round. The testing startup joins other Austin firms in that space, including EverlyWell.

—Austin-based software startup Employee Wow announced it has raised $1 million in seed funding from Sean Tomlinson, a Hong Kong-based investor. The Austin startup has developed enterprise management software that it says helps employers make informed staffing decisions and measure employee performance.

—Longtime Rackspace Chief Technology Officer John Engates decided to leave the business after 17 years with the company, according to the San Antonio Business Journal. Engates was moved from CTO to a position named chief evangelist in November, shortly after Rackspace completed its acquisition of Jersey City, NJ-based Datapipe. He hasn’t announced what he plans to do next.

—The Mays Family Foundation in San Antonio is giving $25 million to the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, specifically to be used for the UT Health San Antonio Cancer Center to help pay for faculty and faculty recruitment, among other uses. This is in addition to an initial $5 million the foundation gave the university previously. The foundation was established in 2004 by Lowry Mays, the founder and former chairman of Clear Channel Communications, and his wife, Peggy Pitman Mays.

—San Antonio has been working to build up its tech scene for years. A critical mass appears to be taking shape in the Alamo City, particularly in pockets where cybersecurity, healthtech, new energy, and other startups are popping up. Xconomy is hosting its first public event in San Antonio on Feb. 20, “San Antonio Tech: Seizing the Momentum,” to discuss the growth of the tech scene and what needs to happen to take San Antonio to the next level. Speakers include Graham Weston, Kimberley Britton, Rep. Will Hurd, and many more.

—Lastly, some in Austin thought Amazon was providing a clue as to the future location of its much-anticipated HQ2 location with its Super Bowl ad. The spot envisions celebrities taking over for Alexa when she loses her voice while giving the weather in Austin. But when USAToday contacted the e-commerce giant, Amazon quashed the speculation, saying that “the Alexa Super Bowl spot and HQ2 are totally unrelated.”

Xconomy National Correspondent David Holley contributed to this report.

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