Author: LauraLorek@gmail.com (Page 1 of 344)

LauraLorek@gmail.com

Foundation Donates 68 Acres in Taylor to UT for new Center on Semiconductor Research and Training

The Temple College at Taylor Foundation donated a 68-acre tract to the University of Texas at Austin last week.

UT plans to develop the Taylor Center at the site, which is located near the Samsung Austin Semiconductor’s new six million-square-foot chip fabrication plant.

“Advancing innovation, growing education, and cultivating leadership in the semiconductor space is a major area of focus for the University of Texas, and we are excited to have a presence in the burgeoning Taylor community and the opportunity to shape further the expanding footprint of the semiconductor ecosystem in Central Texas,” President Jay Hartzell said in a news statement. “We are grateful to the Temple College at Taylor Foundation for welcoming UT into its vision for educational and economic opportunity in the region and to the City of Taylor for its commitment to supporting one of the nation’s most critical needs.”

According to UT, the Texas Institute for Electronics is considering using the site at U.S. Highway 79 for training and research with semiconductor partners.

It’s a return to Austin’s roots. UT worked with Austin and State leaders to attract Sematech, a nonprofit consortium that performed research and development to advance chip manufacturing, to Austin in 1987.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Central Texas was a hotbed of silicon chip research and manufacturing, earning Austin the nickname Silicon Hills. But it wasn’t just Austin. In the early 1990s, San Antonio attracted Sony’s first chip-making plant in the U.S. That plant, later shut down, is now home to the National Security Agency’s campus.

Today, Austin is still a major player in chip production, with companies such as AMD, Samsung, Infineon Technologies, and others.

According to a UT news release, UT’s Texas Institute for Electronics received $552 million from the Texas Legislature to compete for CHIPS Act funding. “TIE is using some of the state funds to refurbish existing fabrication plants at the original Sematech site on Montopolis Drive and at UT’s J.J. Pickle Research Campus on Burnet Road.”

“The Temple College at Taylor Foundation has embraced a thoughtful evolution of ideas that culminated in the establishment of the University of Texas at Austin – Taylor Center,” James Bartosh, president of the foundation and a UT alumnus, said in a news statement. “UT’s and Samsung’s investment in Taylor will result in the advancement of education, research and quality of life in Central Texas.”

UT has a task force to determine how to develop the site and what programs to include.

Innovating for Health Institute Launches at UT Austin

The Innovating for Health Institute launched at the University of Texas at Austin last week.

The institute shifts the focus of the former Drug Dynamics Institute within the College of Pharmacy. Its focus is on solving health problems and collaborating with innovators.

The program is being called i4Health and is led by Janet C. Walkow, clinical professor of molecular pharmaceutics and drug delivery, and Nishi Viswanathan, adjunct assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy.

“Translational health science innovations are products and ideas but can also be ways to innovate within an organization.” Walkow said in a news release. “i4Health courses, workshops, and programming help learners think in new ways and understand how to innovate so that we can begin to create more novel health technology or rewrite how things are done within an organization. There are no limits here, only possibilities.”

In April, the University of Texas College of Pharmacy’s Innovating for Health team held its seventh annual pitch competition, showcasing student team projects. It also launched the i4health.info website.

The startups that pitched included: “CystiRNA using mRNA to reverse the genetic mutation in the lungs with the overall goal of inhibiting the progression of cystic fibrosis (CF); PulmaVanc, an inhaled combination of vancomycin and DNase I, is a targeted pulmonary therapy that avoids the hassle and reduces the toxicity associated with systemic administration of IV products; and Omaira is a novel, 3D-bio printed oral contraceptive pill designed for extended-release that lasts for a full week,” according to a news release.

Microsoft Shuts Down Arkane Studios in Austin and Lays Off 96 Employees

Microsoft has shut down Arkane Studios in Austin, which made games for the Xbox gaming console.

Arkane Studios laid off 96 people, according to a WARN notice filed with the state on May 7th. The studio created Prey, Deathloop, and Redfall, a first-person shooter video game released for the Xbox on May 2, 2023.

Arkane Studios was Austin, founded in 2006. In 2010 ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Software, acquired Arkane Studios in 2010. Microsoft acquired ZeniMax Media in March 2021.

Microsoft did not release an official press statement on the layoffs. Windows Central obtained an email from a Microsoft executive stating, “Arkane Austin – This studio will close with some members of the team joining other studios to work on projects across Bethesda. Arkane Austin has a history of making impactful and innovative games and it is a pedigree that everyone should be proud of. Redfall’s previous update will be its last as we end all development on the game. The game and its servers will remain online for players to enjoy and we will provide make-good offers to players who purchased the Hero DLC.”

Microsoft also closed Alpha Dog Studios and Tango Gameworks.

Harvey Smith, studio director of Arkane Studios Austin, wrote on X, “I just want to say that I love al the people at Arkane Austin so much. Great times, hard times, we went through so much together. Of course, today’s news is terrible for all of us. Your talent will lift you up, and I will do anything I can to help.”

Ernest & Young Selects 21 Austin and 3 San Antonio Entrepreneurs as Finalists for its Entrepreneur of the Year 2024 Gulf South Award

Ernst & Young LLP has announced the finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2024 Gulf South Award featuring 21 Austin entrepreneurs and 3 San Antonio entrepreneurs.

The Gulf South program honors 48 entrepreneurs from Central and South Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. An independent panel of judges selected the finalists based on “their demonstration of building long-term value through entrepreneurial spirit, purpose, growth, and impact, among other core contributions and attributes.”

“The finalists of this year are audacious entrepreneurs who are making a significant impact in their respective industries and communities” Anna Horndahl, Partner and Entrepreneur Of The Year Gulf South Program Co-Director, said in a news release.

EY will announce the regional award winners on June 13th. The winners will then be considered for the Entrepreneur of the Year National Awards, which will be presented in November.

The 2024 Gulf South finalists from the Austin area and San Antonio are:

Justin Fenchel, Bradley Schultz, and Aimy Steadman | BeatBox Beverages | Austin     

Katy Mimari | Caden Lane | Boerne, Texas       

Martin Keighley | CarbonFree | San Antonio     

Jeff Lee and Courtney Shields | DIBS Beauty | Austin         

Dr. Andrea Thomaz | Diligent Robotics | Austin 

Dean Drako | Eagle Eye Networks | Austin        

Mark Engels | ePayPolicy | Austin         

Erine Gray | FindHelp | Austin  

Andy Flanagan | Iris Telehealth | Austin

Beth San Segundo | OriGen Biomedical | Austin           

Charles Leddy | Presidian Hospitality | San Antonio       

Emerson Smith | Pushnami | Austin     

Robbins Schrader | SafeRide | San Antonio      

Dr. Lefteris Ntouanoglou | Schoox, LLC | Austin

Nicole Budworth | Senox Corporation | Austin  

Ted Ross | SpyCloud | Austin   

Tony Hartl | Undefeated Tribe Operating Company LLC | Austin 

Russell Diez-Canseco | Vital Farms | Austin      

Chris Brundrett | William Chris Wine Company | Hye, Texas     

Chris O’Dowd | WIN Reality | Austin     

Wayne Morton | Wind Energy Transmission | Austin      

SXSW to Launch in London

Austin’s iconic music, film, and tech festival, South by Southwest, is going across the pond to launch SXSW London in June 2025.

It’s SXSW’s first European conference. But SXSW did launch SXSW in Sydney, Australia, last year.

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring the SXSW experience to London,” Jann Baskett, Co-President and Chief Brand Officer of SXSW, said in a news statement. “Following the success of SXSW Sydney, this is an incredible new opportunity to highlight the elements that make SXSW unique in one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. We look forward to forming deeper connections with our overseas community and bringing the conversations that start in Austin all the way to London.”

According to conference organizers, the SXSW London conference will have its distinct personality.

“SXSW London will build on Austin’s incredible legacy, presenting an event that underpins why SXSW is the go-to destination for professionals and creatives seeking meaningful connections, unexpected experiences, and ideas that can help shape the world,” Randel Bryan, managing director of SXSW London, said in a news release.

The week-long conference, which will take place in June 2025 in Shoreditch, East London, will feature keynotes, music showcases, tech, gaming, and film, with a focus on visual arts, design, and fashion. It will also include interactive exhibitions and immersive experiences.

“I am delighted to welcome SXSW to London for the first time ever, confirming our place at the heart of Europe’s tech and creative sectors and as a global capital of culture,” Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said in a news release.

Badges will go on sale in October 2024, and programming will be published on SXSWLondon.com.

London and Austin have a long-standing relationship.

Since 2012, London’s Borough of Hackney has had a sister city relationship with Austin. The two cities signed the Austin-Hackney Sister City Committee on Jan. 25th, 2012.  Hackney began bringing a large contingent of people to SXSW in 2013 with its first official Hackney House, a venue that showcased the talents of East London’s creative, tech, and design community.

In 2014, British Airways began offering direct daily flights between Austin and London, timing the launch to SXSW.

In 2018, London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan visited Capital Factory and spoke about equality. The next day, he gave the featured keynote at SXSW.

In 2019, Capital Factory, a technology accelerator in downtown Austin, joined forces with Plexal, an innovation center in London’s Here East technology campus. Here East is a technology redevelopment project from the 2012 London Olympics. It has 1.2 million square feet of space in three buildings in East London.

Earlier this year, Texas signed a trade pact with the United Kingdom. On March 13th, Gov. Greg Abbott traveled to London to meet with the U.K.’s Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch. The pact is focused on making it quicker, easier, and cheaper for U.K. and Texas firms to do business by tackling trade barriers, growing investment, and driving commerce between the U.K. and Texas.

Dell Technologies Turns 40 Years Old

This week, Michael Dell posted a few pictures and statements on X celebrating the founding of his company forty years ago on May 3, 1984.

https://twitter.com/MichaelDell/status/1786379113470804371

At the time, he was a pre-med student at the University of Texas at Austin. He launched the company, originally called PC’s Limited, in his dorm room, offering customized PC upgrades.

Dell incorporated the company about a week before finals. He finished his freshman year as a biology major. Then he dropped out of the University of Texas and founded Dell Computers with $1,000. He relocated the company from his dorm room to a proper office.

The business grew from $6 million in the first nine months to $33 million in the next year. It grew about 80 percent per year compounded for eight years and 60 percent for the six years after that, according to Dell.

Dell’s secret sauce was the way he sold the PCs – direct to consumers.

At age 27, Dell became the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company ever. 

Today, he is still CEO of the company he founded. Dell’s revenue in 2023 was $102 billion.

Round Rock-based Dell is also one of Austin’s largest technology companies, with more than 1,400 local employees.

And Dell, 59, has become the world’s 12th richest person, with a personal fortune of $104 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

And at SXSW in March, Dell said he’s looking forward to the next 40 years and he thinks Artificial Intelligence will play a big role in Dell’s future.

Austin’s Coworking Market Gains Steam

Austin’s coworking industry has always been turbulent, with new sites opening and closing.

In recent times, WeWork announced that it had exited its lease at the SXSW Center on Lavaca Street last October, according to an article in The Real Deal. It stopped operations at that site in January, although WeWork is still operating in the Domain, Congress, Barton Springs and University Park in Austin

The Riveter, a female-focused coworking site, shut down during the Pandemic and never reopened. Galvanize, a coworking site at Nueces and Second Street shuttered its operations in August 2022.

But Austin’s coworking supply is ticking up, with 78 sites now, according to CoworkingCafe’s recently released quarterly report on the coworking industry. The site’s researchers examined data from April and the coworking space stock availability in the nation’s 25 largest markets.

According to the report, Austin’s coworking market saw a 4 percent increase in coworking spaces in the last quarter, with three more. That ranks Austin 21st in the nation, up from 22nd at the end of last year.

  • In terms of square footage, Austin has a total of 1.65 million square feet, a slight increase of 0.5% compared to Q4 2023.
  • The average square foot in the Austin market dropped by 3% from 21,888 sqft in Q4 of last year to 21,144 sqft in Q1 of 2024.
  • Regarding pricing, virtual offices dropped to $109 from $119 in Q4. Dedicated desks increased to $405 from $403, while open workspaces increased to $199 from $150.
  • Other Texan markets in our top 25 include Dallas-Fort Worth, which logged 259 spaces in Q1 – a 4% increase; and Houston. which logs 216 spaces in Q1 – a 0.5% increase.
  • The national coworking supply now stands at 6,597 spaces, registering a 6% increase from Q4 2023.

The full industry report here: 

SaaStock USA: Where SaaS Leaders Convene in the Heart of Texas

Sponsored post

in the ever-evolving software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry landscape, one event stands out as a beacon of innovation, collaboration, and growth: SaaStock USA.

Hosted in the vibrant city of Austin, this annual gathering has become a mecca for SaaS leaders, entrepreneurs, and visionaries from around the globe. SaaStock USA is more than a conference—it’s a convergence of minds, a melting pot of ideas, and a platform for shaping the future of the SaaS world.

SaaStock USA takes place May 13-15th at the Palmer Events Center in the heart of Austin. The event will likely sell out soon, so to secure your ticket today, click here to register.

Stepping into the bustling exhibition hall, attendees are immediately immersed in a world of cutting-edge technologies, groundbreaking solutions, and a palpable energy that permeates every corner. From established industry giants to scrappy startups, SaaStock USA attracts diverse companies, each showcasing their latest offerings and sharing their unique perspectives.

The meticulously curated speaker sessions and panel discussions are at the heart of the event. Rockstar speakers for the SaaStock USA event include Steve Rowland, president of Klaviyo, Ashley Grech, CRO of Xero, Mercelo Lebre, Co-Founder, CTO and President of Remote, Ashley Kramer, CMO and CSO of GitLab, Mary D’Onofrio, partner of Bessemer Venture Partners, Kevin Dorsey, sales leadership accelerator and consultant, Jason Fried, Co-founder and CEO of 37signals and Chris Walker, executive chairman of Refine Labs. They will share their invaluable insights and experiences. Whether delving into the intricacies of product development, exploring innovative go-to-market strategies, or dissecting the nuances of customer acquisition and retention, every session promises to challenge conventional wisdom and ignite new ways of thinking.

But SaaStock USA is more than just a series of talks and presentations. It’s a fertile ground for networking and forging meaningful connections. The bustling exhibition floor is a hive of activity, where conversations flow freely, ideas are exchanged, and potential partnerships are born. From impromptu meetups to organized networking events, attendees have ample opportunities to connect with like-minded professionals, fostering a sense of community that extends far beyond the conference halls.

One of the event’s standout features is its focus on empowering the next generation of SaaS leaders. SaaStock USA recognizes the importance of nurturing talent and fostering a culture of innovation. Through dedicated mentorship programs, aspiring entrepreneurs can glean wisdom from seasoned veterans, gaining invaluable insights into the challenges and triumphs of building and scaling a successful SaaS business.

At night, SaaStock USA transforms into a vibrant social hub. From intimate dinners to lively after-parties, attendees have ample opportunities to unwind, network, and forge lasting connections. It’s a testament to the event’s ability to seamlessly blend business and pleasure, creating an environment where ideas flourish and relationships thrive.

But SaaStock USA is more than just a fleeting moment in time. Its impact reverberates long after the final session has concluded and the exhibition halls have emptied. Attendees return to their respective corners of the world armed with a renewed sense of inspiration, a wealth of knowledge, and a network of invaluable connections.

In the fast-paced world of SaaS, where innovation is the currency and agility is the key to success, SaaStock Austin stands as a beacon of progress and a testament to the industry’s resilience and forward-thinking spirit. It’s a gathering that celebrates past achievements and charts the course for the future, ensuring that the SaaS revolution continues to shape how we live, work, and interact with technology.

Tools and Tips for Using Generative AI in the Workplace

Tabrez Syed, founder of Boxcar.ai, Kathryn Lewis, Chief Strategy Officer of Prosigliere, and Madhu Basu, founder of Unnanu at the Umlauf Gardens in downtown Austin.

Silicon Hills News hosted an event on Wednesday in the Crenshaw Room of the Umlauf Garden in downtown Austin to discuss tools and tips for using generative AI in the workplace. It also included some of the potential pitfalls of using the technology.

The speakers included Tabrez Syed, founder of Boxcar.ai in Austin. Syed explained what generative AI is and how it was created. He also gave an overview of its position in the Gartner Hype Cycle, which is now at its peak.  Here is the link to Syed’s presentation.

Kathryn Lewis, Chief Strategy Officer with Prosigliere and founder of DMass in Austin, discussed how Generative AI has affected the demand for jobs on Upwork. It has led to a considerable decrease in writing and customer service jobs and a significant increase in website editing and development. Lewis also provided several AI-powered tools that people use today, such as copy.ai, Writesonic, Jasper, and Charlie. Her presentation is embedded below.

Silicon Hills AI

AI TRENDS, TOOLS AND TIPS Benefits and Drawbacks of ChatGPT and AI katie@prosigliere.com April 24, 2024

Madhu Basu is the founder of Unnanu, an artificial intelligence contextual search startup. Its flagship product is Unnanu Hire, a software-as-a-service platform with a proprietary AI and machine learning-powered resume-scoring feature. Here is a link to his presentation.

Madhu AI Presentation Slides

Overview of AI Tools and Uses Cases Understanding the Benefits and Drawbacks of ChatGPT and AI Presenting by Madhu Basu madhu@unnanu.ai https://www.linkedin.com/in/madhubasu/

Laura Lorek, founder of Silicon Hills News, also shared a presentation she did recently for the Ohio Northern University School of Law on the benefits and drawbacks of generative AI technology in the legal industry. The presentation is embedded below.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Generative AI in the Legal Industry

AI Innovations in the Legal Industry: The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Generative AI By Laura Lorek Founder and Publisher Silicon Hills News

Google Tackles AI-Fueled Election Threats with Disclosure Rules, Fact-Checking

David Graff, Google Trust and Safety’s VP of Global Policy and Standards

This election year, generative AI poses new challenges, as cybercriminals can use it to create misleading content, such as deep fakes or fake images, videos, or audio.

Michael Kaiser, CEO of Defending Digital Campaigns, had a fireside chat with David Graff, Google Trust and Safety’s VP of Global Policy and Standards. The talk occurred Thursday morning at Google’s half-day summit on election security at its Austin downtown office.

In addition to the presidential election, more than 1,000 seats in Texas are on the ballot in November, which might attract U.S. adversaries, cybercriminals, and hacktivists to launch targeted attacks, according to Defending Democracy Campaigns.

In past elections, cybercriminals have attacked individuals and organizations and spread dangerous misinformation. Kaiser said that this year, generative AI threatens to disrupt elections even more.

These days, Graff and his team at Google spend a lot of time on generative AI.

“This is a little bit like old wine in a new bottle,” Graff said.

Graff said that Google has been dealing with the challenges of misinformation, impersonation, and bad actors. He said Google has a series of enforcement actions and policies on dealing with fake content.

Graff said Google has developed policies requiring disclosure if advertisers use AI in consequential ways in political ads.

“So, people understand what they are seeing,” Graff said.

 So far, campaigns seem cautious about using generative AI in deceptive ways, but he said there are concerns about misuse by unofficial actors.

Graff said that Google’s search engine elevates authoritative, fact-based information for election queries.

“In terms of the new technology, which is incredibly transformation and incredibly powerful, it does present some new challenges,” Graff said. It allows people to create high-quality video and audio content, he said.

But the large language models are prone to hallucinations or making stuff up, and they can propagate misinformation, he said.

Graff said Google also promotes transparency around AI-generated content through techniques like watermarking and metadata standards. He said Google’s focus is helping the public identify synthesized content.

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