Before SXSW, Austin Tech Startups Tout Funds for Share of Spotlight

Austin—Besides drawing countless entrepreneurs to Austin every year, the days before South by Southwest also seems to be a time of startups making venture funding announcements, particularly those from Austin-based companies looking to make a name at the conference.

The largest deal announced so far in the days before SXSW has been a $40 million funding round for cybersecurity software for apps. Some of the other deals are investments in startups with technologies that were popular discussion topics at SXSW festivals in years past, such as drone technology or machine learning.

The biggest trends that are holding the attention of SXSW panels and presentations this year—blockchain and cryptocurrency, self-driving cars, and diversity—could stir up some venture funding news in the coming days, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, here’s a recap of funding news this week from Austin-based companies.

—Cybersecurity company Netsparker announced Thursday that it received $40 million from Turn/River Capital to build out its products, boost sales and marketing, and sell in more places, according to a news release. The company, which has offices in Austin and London, has software that scans websites, web applications, and other web services for security flaws. The software reports vulnerabilities and automatically tests them to ensure they’re not false-positives, the company says.

—Also on Thursday, Smarter Sorting said it raised $5 million in seed funding for its machine-learning technology that aims to identify, categorize, and sort products that contain chemicals, in order to help cities, retailers, and waste management companies possibly reuse the chemicals instead of incinerating them. The Austin-based company’s product is currently being used by 15 municipalities in the U.S. RTP Ventures provided $2.5 million of the funding.

—A company backed by Y Combinator,, announced on Wednesday that it has received $5.75 million financing round led by Goldcrest Capital, Eniac Ventures, and Two Sigma Ventures. The Austin startup also said it has launched a “universal messaging network” that will ideally let customers message anyone regardless of the app they use, such as Slack, Cisco Spark, or Atlassian Stride, the company says. currently has connected the application programming interfaces of three chatting services, and plans to connect all other major workplace and consumer app chatting services by the end of the year, the company said. The company says there are more than 1,000.

—Real estate app maker ListingSpark added $2 million in equity funding, according to a regulatory filing. The company offers a marketplace for homeowners to sell their homes themselves, in an effort to avoid paying an agent a commission.

—DroneSense on Tuesday said it raised $4.9 million in new equity funding, according to a regulatory filing. The software maker out of Austin develops drone software that is specifically for public safety workers. The software handles management, flight control, and provides an overall command center for the users.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at [email protected] Follow @xconholley

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