M&A

Houston-area energy tech startup acquired by engineering consulting company

LaserStream has been acquired by Stress Engineering Services Inc. Getty Images

A Humble-based startup that provides laser-based scans of pipeline has been acquired by Houston-based Stress Engineering Services Inc.

LaserStream's technology that can evaluate damage and corrosion as well as calculate measurements of various equipment has been folded into SES. Three of the startup's leaders will join SES to run the group, and the financial amount of the deal has not been disclosed.

"We are proud of the prior working relationship enjoyed between our two companies and we are confident that LaserStream will forge a successful future as part of SES," co-founder Jason Waligura, who will move over to SES, says in a news release. "We look forward to delivering strong results for our existing clients, as well as expanding our capabilities with the world class service and capability of SES."

SES has acquired LaserSteam's laser-mapping technology and will combine with its laboratories and service offerings in Houston; Waller, Texas; New Orleans; Cincinnati; Singapore; and Calgary, Alberta, per the release. The technology is impactful on several industry verticals, including upstream, midstream, and downstream oil and gas, as well as the aerospace, consumer, and medical services industries.

"We believe that growing our existing capabilities is critical to our success in the broad spectrum of markets in which we participate," says Kenneth Bhalla, chief technical officer at SES, in the release. "The acquisition of Laserstream will add new, innovative capabilities in our core markets. This will diversify our product portfolio and capabilities in new and important areas. We are very excited to add LaserStream to an already outstanding business and team."

LaserStream was named one of the 10 most-promising startups at Rice University's fifth annual Rice Alliance Startup Roundup event at the 2019 Offshore Technology Conference. The company was rounded in 2014.


Photo via laserstreamlp.com

Alex Robart, CEO of Ambyint, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss his plans to grow his company. Photo courtesy of Ambyint

After years of having to educate potential customers about the game-changing technology that artificial intelligence can be, Alex Robart, CEO of Ambyint, says it's a different story nowadays.

"We're seeing our customers spend a little more time understanding AI," Robart says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "More and more boards of mid-sized [exploration and production companies] are challenging their executive teams to do something with AI."

Ambyint, a Calgary-based energy tech startup with its sales and executive teams based in Houston, uses AI to optimize well operations — Robart describes it as a Nest thermostat but for oil rigs. On average, 80 percent of wells aren't optimized — they are either running too fast and not getting enough out of the ground or running too slow and wasting energy, Robart says.

Recently, Ambyint closed its series B investment round at $15 million led by Houston-based Cottonwood Venture Partners led the round with contribution from Houston-based Mercury Fund. Robart says these funds will go to growing their technology to work on a greater variety of wells as well as hire people in both the Canada and Houston offices.

Robart runs Ambyint with his twin brother Chris, who serves as president of the company. The pair have long careers as serial entrepreneurs and even run an energy tech investment company, called Unconventional Capital. Between the two shared companies, the brothers have their own niches.

"We've been really thoughtful about ensuring that we take on different portfolios — we don't really own things jointly. That's been really helpful for us to carve out our own spheres that we own," Robart says."Chris has really become our lead customer-facing person on all things new products."