Austin in January: Cash rich and maturing

Tech News

2019 has been good to the Austin startup scene so far.

Combined, Austin startups have raised $240.3 million in January. That’s not much less than the nearly $300 million raised in all of Q4 2018. And since the beginning of the year, the Texas capital has seen a number of double-digit funding rounds and a nearly quarter of a billion dollar acquisition.

Out of 10 known rounds, six were for $10 million or over. In recent years, Austin has historically been known for having more early-stage companies that raised more seed and Series A rounds. But if this month is any indication, its venture scene is maturing.

Just today, RigUp — an on-demand staffing platform for the oil and gas industry — announced it has secured $60 million in a Series C round. The financing was raised at a $300 million post-money valuation, according to Axios. Founders Fund led the round, which also included participation from existing backers Bedrock Capital and Quantum Energy Partners.

Also of interest is who has been investing in the city. Silicon Valley-based Bessemer Venture Partners put money into at least two of the 10 rounds: legal tech software provider DISCO’s $83 million Series E and ScaleFactor’s $30 million Series B. So, Austin startups are definitely attracting money outside of the local venture ecosystem.

Paul O’Brien, CEO of Austin-based MediaTech Ventures, believes the past few weeks provide validation for venture capitalists who have invested in the area.

“The timing is right on the mark. Just a few years into the nascent local startup scene, we witnessed the growth and enthusiasm of local mentorship and angel investment, and years later, the presence of sophisticated startup programs like Techstars, Mass Challenge and Founder Institute… and now, as if on schedule for investors, we’re seeing substantial outcomes,” he told Crunchbase News. “What’s most exciting about being a part of the local startup community is experiencing that this is really just the beginning.”

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the other big deals that were announced in Austin this month:

  • On January 3, AlertMedia closed on a $25 million Series C. The company has created a cloud-based mass notification system that aims to streamline notifications across devices and platforms.
  • Pensa Systems announced a $5 million Series A toward its mission of making retail more efficient with the use of drones.
  • On January 17, as mentioned above, back office automation startup ScaleFactor closed on a $30 million Series B led by Bessemer. The company told me at the time it saw 700 percent customer growth from 2017 to 2018, and its headcount grew by four times during the same period.
  • Dosh, maker of a cashback app, on January 22 closed on a $20 million Series B.
  • On January 23, Cision, a public relations software company, acquired Austin-based TrendKite, a media monitoring company that leverages AI, for $225 million. TrendKite will continue to be based in the Texas capital and will keep its name, according to this Austin Business Journal piece. And, its CEO Erik Huddleston, becomes president of publicly traded, Chicago-based Cision.
  • And, on January 24, Houston transplant DISCO revealed it had raised $83 million. Now, with more than $133 million in VC raised to date, DISCO says it has raised “more than any other enterprise legal tech company.”

With such a great month, Austin now has a lot of pressure to continue the momentum for the rest of the year.

Featured image credit: Mary Ann Azevedo

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