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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

With $15M, Tethr Joins Ranks of Austin’s Booming AI Cluster 

Austin’s artificial intelligence startups have been on a roll, capitalizing on a worldwide push to integrate AI and machine learning into more business practices. Companies such as SparkCognition and CongnitiveScale have helped put Austin on the map by drawing big name investors, clients and large funding rounds.

Now, Tethr, a startup launched by two former Best Buy corporate workers in 2012, is adding to that cluster of highly-valued startups leveraging AI. The company today announced a $15M Series A led by Grotech Ventures, a Vienna, Va.-based early-stage venture capital firm, and MissionOG, an early and growth stage B2B firm based in Philadelphia. It’s worth noting Tethr is actually a product of CollabIP Inc. — though the company largely brands itself as Tethr.

Tethr’s platform listens in on phone conversations from desk, mobile, Skype or other recording platforms. It transcribes those discussions and, then, AI and machine learning helps analyze those calls for insights. And the startup currently has 50 employees. It plans to double its headcount next year, and it’s looking for a new headquarters, 512Tech reported. The startup currently has 12 job openings listed.

This adds to a strong year or so for Austin’s AI companies. Other big rounds include:

  • SparkCognition raised a $32.5M Series B led by Verizon Ventures and The Boeing Company’s Boeing HorizonX investment arm in June this year.
  • CognitiveScale raised an additional $15 million in equity funding in June this year. That was led by Norwest Venture partners, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, The Westly Group and USAA.
  • In March, Mythic, formerly known as Isocline Engineer Corp., announced a $9M round led by DFJ, a venture capital firm based in California and with participation from Lux Capital, Data Collective and AME Cloud Ventures.

Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves today.

Kristin Spindler Named Director of Concordia Incubator

Concordia University’s new Incubator for Innovation and Impact has appointed its first director. Kristin Spindler, an investor and mentor with the Central Texas Angel Network and founder of a real estate investment firm, will lead the incubator program, which was launched earlier this year.

Chris Greta Joins eRelevance Corp. Team

eRelevance Corporation, a marketing automation service for small- to medium-size businesses, announced it has appointed Chris Greta as its first chief creative officer. Greta was most recently the senior brand architect, creative director and creative facilitator at The 24 Hour Brand. Prior to that, Greta founded The Ad Ranch, which was acquired by Catapult Systems. He also formed, an interactive marketing agency.

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

Can Tech Give Texas Democrats the Boost They Need to Win? (Inno)
Houston’s Amazon bid turns on ‘Innovation Corridor’ (Houston Chronicle)
Amazon Launches ‘Business Prime’ to Bring Quick Delivery to Work (Bloomberg)

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

New Funding

AppClose, Inc., an Austin company with a co-parenting app, raised an additional $505K, according to a new SEC filing. That adds to the $335K the company raised in March this year. The company’s app, which helps divorced parents communicate and schedule, launched last year.

In The Community

The events and happenings to know about tonight and this week.

Coming Up Soon

Keeping Austin Weird & Wired

The fun stuff

Chainsawing Through the Brisket

Yeah, you know Franklins, La Barbecue and Valentina’s. Or, at least I hope you do if you’re into BBQ. But have you heard of We Slaughter Barbecue?

It’s where you’re guaranteed to break out in meat sweats and live in fear of the distant rumbling of a chainsaw. The BBQ joint, which is sorta near Bastrop, is the focus of a new Dallas Observer story. The rural store was featured in the 1974 cult horror classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” And it fully embraces that history. Along with the smoked meats, it sells horror movie collectables and rents campsites and cabins.

The story reminded me of how, in 2014, I volunteered at the Housecore Horror Film Festival. As part of the fun, former Pantera singer Phil Anselmo gathered most of the actors from the film and brought them and a busload of fans to the original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” house in Kingsland — about 90 minutes outside Austin — for a dinner party.

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Meet The Author

Brent Wistrom

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