New Silverton Fund, Brunner to Phunware, HEB Adds CDO & More TX Tech

Let’s get caught up with the latest innovation news from Xconomy Texas.

—Austin, TX-based venture firm Silverton Partners announced it has closed on a $108 million fund, which it will use to invest in startups in the enterprise and consumer technology sectors. Silverton says that since its founding in 2006, the firm has made more than 50 investments and has been involved in five full or partial exits since the start of 2018. The companies involved in those deals were WP Engine, SpareFoot, Watermark, Favor, and YouEarnedIt, Silverton said.

Barbary Brunner, CEO of the Austin Technology Council, has left to become the chief marketing officer at Phunware. Brunner is the first CMO at the Austin-based company, which develops software to manage digital ad campaigns. Phunware announced in March plans to go public through a reverse merger with Greece-based Stellar Acquisition III. The company has also said it plans to issue a cyptocurrency called PhunCoin in June.

Student Loan Genius, an Austin-based developer of tools for employers to help their employees manage and pay down student debt, has raised $3.5 million in a round led by Vestigo Ventures. CMFG Ventures, Prudential Financial, and Rubicon Venture Capital also participated in the round, according to a press release. In April, the startup raised $4.7 million.

—San Antonio-based grocery store chain HEB announced that Jag Bath is its first chief digital officer. Bath is an Austin entrepreneur who led Favor Delivery, an on-demand delivery startup that was acquired by HEB in February. The grocer said in a press release that Bath will remain Favor’s CEO in addition to taking on the new role. The appointment is part of HEB’s efforts to employ new technologies to support the increasing number of customers who prefer to shop online, the company said.

LiveOak Venture Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm in Austin, is expanding, which the firm says is a reflection of LiveOak’s growing portfolio. Mike Marcantonio and Mason Rathe become principal and senior associate, respectively—the first new hires outside of the firm’s founding partners. Marcantonio previously spent six years with Blue Heron Capital, while Rathe most recently worked at Comerica Bank before joining LiveOak.

SmartBlock Capital, a Dallas-based investment firm, is raising a $100 million hedge fund to make investments in cryptocurrencies and blockchain, Dallas Innovates reported. Blockchain is the underlying technology for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. According to SmartBlock Capital’s website, the firm is looking to make seed-stage investments in blockchain startups.

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