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Thursday, July 12, 2018

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First Up

Brent: You learn something new everyday. Today, I learned that Mark Zuckerberg’s first business cards said “I’m CEO… bitch.” I’m glad he has moved on from those days… but, if you want a flashback, check out this in-depth Wired piece called “Sex, Beer, and Coding: Inside Facebook’s Wild Early Days.” 

Alright, let’s get going…

The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Austin’s Office Boom is a Boon to Real Estate Startups 

Austin is a big and growing market, and that helps a lot of startups find beta testers, customers and headlines. Perhaps no sector in town is a red hot as the real estate market. Class A office spaces are renting at all-time high rates and many small- to mid-sized businesses are shuffling desks and opening satellite offices as their outgrow their space.

This dynamic is part of what is fueling the boom in coworking spaces in Austin — and elsewhere. And it has also revealed an opening for other innovators in the office space sector.

Swivel is hoping to jump on that opportunity by providing flexible leases and custom designs on office spaces for growing companies. It works with landlords to find spaces that fit Swivel’s flexible business model and then lets prospective tenants use their 3D visualization tools to design a workspace. Finally, Swivel handles the rest by setting it up as it was envisioned. Today, Swivel reported raising $4.8M in new equity funding to help it expand its offerings in Austin and beyond.

The company is stacked with experienced founders and engineers.

Swivel was quietly formed in 2016 by Scott Harmon and Mike Maples Jr. Since then, four others have also been listed as co-founders — Greg Kattawar, David Proft, Tabrez Syed and Wade Cohn. They share a lot of common background. Harmon, Maples, Kattawar and Proft all worked previously at Tivoli Software, which is among the most pivotal software startups to come out of Austin during its formative tech startup days. And those three, along with Cohn and Syed, all worked at Motive, a software developer that was founded by Maples and Harmon and was acquired by Alcatel-Lucent in 2008. Also worth noting, Maples went on to found Floodgate, a well-known Silicon Valley investment firm, and Kattawar went on to become a co-founder at Spiceworks.

Back in its stealthy days, the company had a code name: Poquito. But after reporting about $1.8M in funding to the Securities and Exchange Commission, people started taking notice, including CNBC.

It’s unclear who led this new round, but Swivel’s website lists Maples VC firm Floodgate, San Francisco-based First Round Capital and Austin’s Next Coast Ventures as investors.

(Disclaimer: Former Austin Inno General Manager Billy Utt works at Swivel as a product marketer.) 

Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves today.

Former Umbel CEO Joins BigCommerce

E-commerce platform BigCommerce has hired former Umbel CEO Lisa Pearson as its chief marketing officer. Pearson, a former CMO at Bazaarvoice at the time it IPOed, joined Umbel as its CEO in Spring 2017. In February this year, Umbel merged with MVPindex and that company’s CEO, Stan Woodward, became CEO of the combined company. Shortly after that happened, BigCommerce closed a $64M Series F investment led by Goldman Sachs, signaling another spurt of growth at an already fast-growing company.

Indeed Releases Top-Rated Workplaces List

Indeed, the Austin careers site, released its list of the 50 top-rated workplaces based on reviews. The top five were: Facebook, Southwest Airlines, Salesforce, Delta and Costco Wholesale. Other tech companies include: Apple (No. 10), Microsoft (No. 11), eBay (No. 15), NetApp (No. 40) and Qualcomm (No. 45).

Texas Crackdown on Crypto Continues

The Texas Securities Board continue to crackdown on questionable crypto businesses. The Securities Board announced it has issued cease and desist orders against three businesses offering crypto investments to Texans that are controlled by Utah resident Darren Olayan. Those are Mintage Mining, Symatri and NUI Social. The orders also named Houston resident Wyatt McCullough, who is affiliated with NUI Social. Basically, the state is going after them for advertisements claiming huge returns on investment that the state deems deceptive because they don’t disclose the value or other risks of a proprietary cryptocurrency called Kala.

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

How Impact Hub’s Workforce Development Accelerator Improves Austin’s Future (Inno)
How Care2Rock Brings Musicians and Children in Foster Care Together (Inno)
New Awards Spotlight Diversity and Inclusion Efforts at Austin Tech Companies (Inno)
Microsoft debuts free tier in competitive workplace chat app market (Reuters)
Apple is updating its top-tier MacBook Pros today (The Verge)

In The Community

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

Coming Up

Find more events in our July Inno-Approved events roundup.

Keeping Austin Weird & Wired

The fun stuff

Say It Like an Austinite

I moved to Austin after living in Mexico. And, like a lot of people, I tried my best to accurately pronounce the Spanish-influenced street names, like Man-Cha-Ca and Wad-a-loop-eh. I figured I had a solid head start having spoken the language with native speakers for months before. But, like others who came before, I quickly learned it’s Man-Chak and Gwad-a-Loop — and those donde esta el bano Spanish skills actually make it harder to pronounced Austin street names.

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but the clever folks at Imperial Traffic Solutions last year programmed a sign to show folks how to say popular street names — including the non-Spanish ones that we still pronounce in interesting Texas-style ways. Totally hooked on phonetics? Check out this video.

Featured Jobs

Featured startup and tech jobs on Austin Inno’s new Careers Directory.

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Meet The Author

Brent Wistrom

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