Skip to main content

Venture Capital, Expansion of the Ecosystem Among Subjects Discussed at State of Tech

Published Apr 20, 2022 by Megan Broussard

State of Technology 2022

State of Technology 2022

Technology industry experts from across the region gathered this week for the Partnership’s second annual State of Technology event at the Hilton Americas. A wide-ranging panel discussion covered some of the topics most important to Houston’s evolving tech landscape, including access to capital, the expansion of major tech players and the growing importance of environmental, social, governance or ESG in tech.
  
Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey served as moderator for the discussion and was joined by Sandy Guitar, Managing Director at HX Venture Fund, Ann Lai, Vice President and General Manager of Displays Solutions Business Group, HP Inc. and Trinity Lloyd, Sustainability and Energy Transition Lead at Google Cloud. They lead the conversation on Houston's growth in innovation and the many ways our city supports a robust, ever-evolving tech ecosystem. From conversations on how the pandemic has influenced the way technology is approached to an update on Houston’s role as a national leader in tech innovation, the afternoon was an insightful look into the past, present and future of technology.  

Harvey celebrated the progress Houston has made and discussed the reasons Houston’s technology scene has seen a significant increase in the past years, despite challenges from the pandemic.

“Venture capital funding of Houston companies has grown from $284 million in 2016 to $2.34 billion in 2021,” said Harvey. “This growth includes a concentration of early-stage funding, positioning Houston as the 3rd fastest growing early-stage tech ecosystem in the country.”

Industry experts believe Houston can compete with already established tech hubs, such as Silicon Valley, because it offers diversity, opportunity and the much-needed support for startups to succeed.

"Houston ranked second among 14 major U.S. labor markets for the number of relocating software and IT workers, according to a report by Axios in May 2021," said Harvey. “Houston is attracting interest from large technology companies like Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which recently moved their headquarters to Houston.”

Panel topics included the prominent shifts in the industry, tech waste, the importance of digital inclusion and the continuation of Houston’s rise as one of the country’s most prominent emerging tech hubs. The panelists also discussed several crucial components required for the continued success of Houston’s growth in tech innovation. 

“Houston has an infrastructure and intellectual capital unlike any other city in the world,” said Lloyd. “It’s critical for anything across ESG/climate spectrum. Putting a focus on that, on how people can make a difference, means that the next generation will gravitate here”

“How do we use all of us as grassroots ambassadors for Houston’s tech ecosystem,” said Lai. “That’s critical. We also need to get talent earlier in the pipeline.” 

Each panelist shared how their companies have contributed to the incredible momentum in innovation as well as their commitment to ensure that with this growth comes accessibility. Additionally, the panel shared insight on how technology not only impacts several industries, but communities as well. 

“ESG and technology are deeply integrated and connected,” said Lloyd. This is an opportunity for every organization to embrace their energy, their climate and their ESG to help lead others in their sectors.”

Looking forward, the panel all agreed that there is a responsibility to use technological advances to better workplace culture and productivity as we begin to function in what many call the “new normal.” Although the pandemic may have spurred rapid development in technology, that will not slow down anytime soon. 

“There’s a full democratization and decentralization in venture capital and in tech companies themselves... most venture capitalists are very focused on how to get the best ideas in the most democratic way possible,” said Guitar.  

Learn more about Houston's innovation ecosystem and read the latest Houston Tech Report.

 

 

Related News

Digital Technology

innovateHOU: Why Digital Tech Startups Choose Houston

3/13/24
Houston’s tech scene has made many strides in recent years to set a foundation for startups to thrive, from founding to late stage, across industries. With a wealth of incubators coming online and a sharp uptick in venture capital funding, startups now have more landing spots and opportunity for growth in Houston than ever before.   We spoke to three tech startups about their experiences in Houston, including two that launched last year and one that recently relocated to Houston.   Envana Software Solutions Envana, a software-as-a-service company built to organize, model and forecast oil and gas industry emissions, has experienced tremendous growth since its launch in January 2023. The startup is a joint venture by Halliburton and Siguler Guff.  Envana's growth is marked by clients including the world’s second-largest oilfield services provider, national oil companies in APAC and Europe, and leading U.S. service providers. As the company prepares for future goals, Envana says it is looking not only to respond to demands within oil and gas, but to other energy sectors to help corporations manage their emissions.  “There’s no better place in the world for an oil and gas SaaS company to be based than Houston, Texas.  Houston is the ideal birth city for an energy startup.  For Envana –a Halliburton JV with private equity firm Siguler Guff– the city’s features, including access to investment capital, industry experts, and thought leadership in the evolving energy space, make it a prime geography. The number of energy companies based in Houston looking for innovative industry solutions is unparalleled elsewhere in the world.”  - Sally Lechin, Global Marketing, Envana  Allthenticate  Allthenticate describes itself as a cybersecurity startup on a mission to create seamless and efficient security solutions for companies via a smartphone application. The company is primarily focused on security at tech companies, though they intend to expand more of their presence to medtech and energy.   Allthenticate’s story began in 2012 as co-founder Dr. Chad Spensky pursued his PhD, eventually earning a job as a security researcher at MIT working to find gaps in security. Spensky and co-founder Rita Mounir teamed up at a startup competition at UC-Santa Barbara, taking first place and getting traction with early investors. The company was headquartered in Santa Barbara until 2022, when Spensky and his wife relocated to Houston. Allthenticate officially relocated to downtown later that year following a short stint in The Ion and learning of the many advantages the region offers as a hub for headquarters.  Allthenticate is going through another fundraising round following a $3.9 million round in 2022. The team says it remains focused on perfecting the hardware, software and application amid a rapidly changing list of security challenges, including deepfakes.  “As we’re pushing so many world’s firsts in our industry, I think our goal is to become the premier identity and access management company in the world. A lot of giants are trying to catch up, but I think we have an advantage here in what we’re doing and what we’ve built so far. In five years, I believe we will be THE identity management solution.” – Rita Mounir, Co-founder, Allthenticate  Think Diffusion  In 2023, three-time startup founder Phu Ngo produced Think Diffusion, an advanced AI video production platform. Think Diffusion has already established itself with noteworthy names, producing animated content for Toyota, McDonald’s and even a music video for Toni Braxton. Think Diffusion leverages cutting-edge open-source AI technologies to offer a comprehensive and integrated platform for AI art and video generation. Its commitment to open-source has led three universities - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, PVCC-Melbourne, and the National University of Singapore - to adopt Think Diffusion for their innovation labs.  Think Diffusion was started by Ngo, a Vietnamese-born Houstonian whose family found opportunity in the Lone Star State as he was growing up. Following an education at UT-Austin and UC-Santa Barbara, Ngo established himself as a software developer, eventually launching three startups. Think Diffusion spun out of Kinetic Chain Labs following a special request for animated video content, which resulted in an ultra-sophisticated art generator. For Ngo, Houston serves as an ideal place to start a business and call home.  “Houston is home for me, it has great tax advantages and there’s a lot to like. I’m excited by the growing tech hub forming here – I think the startup community at the Ion is a great example of that. On top of that, the food is amazing, the weather is great, and you get a great ROI on your money – it’s amazing here in terms of quality of life.” – Phu Ngo, CEO, Think Diffusion  Currently, Think Diffusion states that it is working on launching new experimental open-source products, expanding into AI-generated text and music, and increasing its focus on the education industry. Looking ahead, the team is ready to embrace the challenges and advantages that the future of AI could bring.  Learn more about Houston’s tech and innovation ecosystem. 
Read More
Digital Technology

Cart.com Returns Home to Houston, Eyes Future Growth

11/20/23
E-commerce unicorn Cart.com has announced the relocation of its global corporate headquarters to Houston, returning to its roots after a brief stint in Austin.  The end-to-end e-commerce services provider, originally founded in Houston in late 2020, experienced unprecedented growth fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The startup officially hit unicorn status earlier this year after a $60 million Series C round raised its valuation to $1.2 billion.  According to the company, Houston’s central location and transportation infrastructure will facilitate improved connectivity among its seven corporate offices, including international offices in Poland and Mexico, and 14 distribution centers nationwide. In addition to those key factors, Houston’s status as a dynamic business hub also played a significant role in the company’s decision to return home.  “I couldn’t be happier to bring Cart.com back home to Houston as we continue to revolutionize how merchants sell and fulfill products to meet customers anywhere they are,” said Cart.com Founder and CEO Omair Tariq. “The idea for Cart.com was born in Houston and we’ve always maintained a strong local presence with the majority of our executive team and board based here. As our customer mix increasingly moves upmarket and our own needs evolve, I’m confident Houston has what we need as we look towards the next stage of Cart.com’s growth story.”  The move will also unlock a deeper talent pool as the company augments key back-office functions including accounting, finance, HR and legal in one of the top cities nationally for Fortune 500 companies and talent.  According to the Partnership’s 2022 Houston Business Insider publication, Houston is home to more than 1.1 million millennials, reflecting a 25 percent increase over the last decade. With its population in that age group continuing to grow, Houston ranks among the top 10 cities in the U.S. for attracting millennials and retaining college graduates.  “Cart.com’s homecoming is a testament to why companies repeatedly choose Houston to scale their business with its diverse and dynamic economy along with its unparalleled talent pool that cuts across technology, professional services and global trade,” said Bob Harvey, Partnership President and CEO. “We’re excited to support Cart.com’s continued growth and look forward to the company’s contribution to Houston’s growing tech community.”  Boasting one of the nation's largest ports and two international airports, complemented by a robust talent pool and the cultural richness of one of the most diverse cities, Houston is a prime destination for companies aiming to maximize growth and efficiency. Cart.com’s relocation is not merely a shift in headquarters but a testament to the city’s capacity to foster success at every stage of business development.   Learn more about Houston’s talent pool and workforce. 
Read More

Related Events

Demography

Economy Series: Houston Facts

Join us for a special presentation from the Partnership's Research team, led by Chief Economist Patrick Jankowski, who will provide a first look and insight into the 2024 Houston Facts publication!…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners