Spredfast Merger, Opcity Acquired, Disco Relocates & More TX Tech
[Updated 9/5/18 12:54 pm. See below.] Let’s get caught up with the latest innovation news in Texas.
—Spredfast, an Austin developer of social media management software, has merged with San Francisco-based Lithium Technologies, the companies announced Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Lithium, founded in 2001, makes software for digital customer engagement. Last year, Austin-based Vista Equity Partners acquired Lithium for an undisclosed sum. Following the Lithium-Spredfast merger, the combined company will be headquartered in San Francisco and will be led by Lithium CEO Pete Hess. Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron “will work closely with the management team to ensure a smooth and successful transition,” according to a press release.
—[New news item added.] Sputnix ATX, an Austin startup accelerator, announced a partnership with the University of Texas at Austin that includes bringing aboard one UT student in each cohort to attend classes and other Sputnik programming. Sputnik, which is currently hosting its second class of companies, focuses on entrepreneurs that are located, or willing to be located, within 300 miles of the Texas capital. “Providing entrepreneurs with business skills not only helps them on a personal level, but entrepreneurial innovation is also essential for society,” Les Nichols, interim director of UT’s Office of Technology Commercialization, said in a press release.
—Opcity, a real estate tech startup, has been acquired by News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS) subsidiary Move for $210 million. Launched in 2015, Austin-based Opcity makes software that connects qualified home buyers and sellers with real estate agents in real time. Two years ago, the startup raised a $27 million Series A round from Icon Ventures in Palo Alto, CA; Toronto-based Georgian Partners; and LiveOak Venture Partners in Austin. Move also operates Realtor.com. Opcity said in a press release that it now works with more than 5,000 brokerages and 40,000 agents.
—Cavu Venture Partners has led an $8 million Series A round of funding into Kettle & Fire, which makes packaged bone broth available in 6,500 stores nationwide, including Whole Foods, HEB, and Sprouts (NASDAQ: SFM), according to a press release. Clayton Christopher, Cavu’s co-founder and managing partner, sold Deep Eddy Vodka to Kentucky distiller Heaven Hill three years ago for nearly $400 million, according to media reports. He also sold Sweet Leaf Tea to Nestle in 2011 for an undisclosed amount.
—New Knowledge, an Austin cybersecurity startup that says it can protect companies from “covert, coordinated disinformation campaigns” announced it has raised $11 million in a Series A funding round. GGV Capital, a venture fund based in Silicon Valley that backed New Knowledge previously, led the round. The company says it uses a combination of machine learning techniques and human analysis to combat so-called “fake news” campaigns waged against entertainment, energy, and defense companies. New Knowledge says it plans to use the funding to expand its sales and marketing teams.
—The University of Texas at Austin ranks number 9 in a list of top startup-producing undergraduate programs, according to a report last week by PitchBook. Ivy League institutions dominated the top 10, which also included Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Michigan; Tel Aviv University; and the University of Illinois. UT also ranked number 10 in a ranking of schools that produce the most startups with female founders.
—Legal tech startup Disco (formerly known as CS Disco) has relocated its headquarters to Austin from Houston, the company said in a press release. “There is no place like Austin in terms of the energy, culture, spirit of innovation and overall talent,” Kiwi Camara, Disco founder and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “Our enhanced Austin presence will invigorate our product development, commitment to service, and overall customer satisfaction.” The company is backed LiveOak Venture Partners.