Thai Lee, of Austin, remains at the top of the list in Texas. Photo courtesy of SHI

Of the country's 100 most successful female entrepreneurs, 12 call Texas home, according to Forbes and its 2023 list of America's Richest Self-Made Women, released June 1.

"Bolstered in part by a rebound in the stock market, [the richest 100 female entrepreneurs] are cumulatively worth a record $124 billion, up nearly 12 percent from a year ago," says Forbes.

To make the Forbes list, women had to garner wealth on their own, rather than by inheriting or winning it. Texas' wealthiest women have made their fortunes in fields ranging from home health care, insurance, and aviation logistics to jewelry design, dating apps, and running the show at SpaceX. Austin is home to the largest concentration of these self-made Texans with eight Austinites making the list.

With an estimated net worth at $4.8 billion, Thai Lee, of Austin, remains at the top of the list in Texas, and ranks No. 5 nationally.

She falls behind only No. 1 Diane Hendricks of Wisconsin (co-founder of ABC Supply, $15 billion net worth); No. 2 Judy Loveof Oklahoma (chairman and CEO, Love's Travel Stops And Country Stores, $10.2 billion); No. 3 Judy Faulkner of Wisconsin (founder and CEO, Epic Systems, $7.4 billion); and No. 4 Lynda Resnick of California (co-founder and co-owner of Wonderful Company, $5.3 billion) among America's richest self-made women.

For some additional perspective, Oprah Winfrey lands at No. 13 on the list for 2023. The TV titan (and most famous woman on the planet) has an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion, Forbes says.

Austin's Lee, a native of Bangkok who holds an MBA from Harvard University, is founder, president, and CEO of SHI International Corp., a provider of IT products and services with a projected revenue of $14 billion in 2023. Fun fact: "Lee majored in both biology and economics," Forbes says, "in part because her English was less than perfect and she wanted to avoid writing and speaking in class."

The other seven Austin women on the list are:

  • Lisa Su, No. 34, Austin. Forbes pegs Su’s net worth at $740 million, tying her with April Anthony of Dallas. The native of Taiwan is president and CEO of Santa Clara, California-based semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices.
  • Kendra Scott, No. 47, of Austin.Forbes says she has amassed a net worth of $550 million as founder of Kendra Scott LLC, which designs and sells jewelry in more than 100 stores (and is worth $360 million). The celebrity entrepreneur is also a judge on TV's Shark Tank.
  • Whitney Wolfe Herd, No. 52, of Austin. She is worth an estimated $510 million. Herd is co-founder and CEO of Bumble Inc., which operates two online dating apps: Bumble and Badoo. She owns a 17% stake in Bumble and became the youngest self-made woman billionaire after it went public in February 2021.
  • Paige Mycoskie, No. 73, of Austin. She is worth an estimated $380 million. Mycoskie created founded her 1970s-inspired California lifestyle brand, Aviator Nation, which took off during the pandemic and now has 16 retail locations across the U.S. If the name sounds familiar, that's because she's the sister of TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, with whom she competed on TV's The Amazing Race.
  • Imam Abuzeid, No. 77, of Austin. Her net worth is estimated at $350 million. Abuzeid is the co-founder and CEO of Incredible Health, which she started in 2017 to help alleviate America's nursing shortage. Forbes describes it as "a souped-up version of LinkedIn for nurses." Abuzeid is one of only a handful of Black female founders to run a company valued at more than $1 billion, Forbes notes.
  • Julia Cheek, No. 92, of Austin. Her net worth is estimated at $260 million. Cheek founded at-home testing company Everly Health in 2015 "out of frustration at having to pay thousands for lab testing to diagnose issues related to vitamin imbalance," Forbes says. It got a Shark Tank deal with Lori Greiner and is now worth roughly $1.8 billion.
  • Belinda Johnson, No. 96, of Austin. She is worth an estimated $250 million. Johnson was Airbnb's first chief operating officer and led many of its legal disputes. She stepped down from that role in March 2020, Forbes says, and left the company's board in June 2023.

The remaining Texas women on the list include:

  • Gwynne Shotwell, No. 27, of Jonesboro (Coryell-Hamilton counties). Her net worth is estimated at $860 million. Shotwell is president and COO of Elon Musk's SpaceX. She manages the operations of the commercial space exploration company and owns an estimated stake of 1 percent, Forbes says.
  • Robyn Jones, No. 29, of Fort Worth. Her net worth is estimated at $830 million. Jones is founder of Westlake-based Goosehead Insurance Agency LLC. She started the property and casualty insurance agency in 2003 after being frustrated with her truck-driver husband's "road warrior lifestyle," Forbes says. He joined her in 2004 and they took the company public in 2018. It has nearly 1,000 franchised offices.
  • April Anthony, No. 34, of Dallas. Forbes puts her net worth at $740 million. She founded the Dallas-based home health and hospice division of Encompass Health Corp and sold it for $750 million to HealthSouth. In 2022, she was named CEO of VitalCaring, a home health and hospice care firm.
  • Kathleen Hildreth, No. 44, of Aubrey. Her net worth is estimated at $590 million. Hildreth is co-founder of M1 Support Services LP, an aviation logistics company based in Denton. A service-disabled Army veteran, she graduated from West Point in 1983 and was deployed all around the world as a helicopter pilot.
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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Energy giant announces deal retail company to bring EV tech to Houston malls

coming soon

Two Houston-area malls will be getting bp's electric vehicle charging technology thanks to a new global collaboration.

The global energy company will be bringing its global EV charging business, bp pulse, to 75 shopping facilities across the country thanks to a partnership with Simon Malls. Two malls in town — The Galleria and Katy Mills Mall — soon see bp's EV charging Gigahubs. The company will install and operate the chargers at the two area sites.

The deal aims to deliver over 900 ultra-fast charging bays that will support most make and model of EVs with the first locations opening to the public in early 2026. Other Texas locations include Grapevine Mills in Grapevine, and Austin’s Barton Creek Square.

“We’re pleased to complete this deal with Simon and expand our ultra-fast charging network footprint in the U.S.,” Richard Bartlett, CEO of bp pulse, says in a news release. “The Simon portfolio aligns with bp pulse’s strategy to deploy ultra-fast charging across the West Coast, East Coast, Sun Belt and Great Lakes, and we are thrilled to team up with Simon so that EV drivers have a range of retail offerings at their impressive destinations.”

Last month, bp pulse opened a EV charging station at its North American headquarters in Houston. The company plans to continue deployment of additional charging points at high-demand spots like major metropolitan areas, bp-owned properties, and airports, according to bp.

“As a committed long term infrastructure player with a global network of EV charging solutions, bp pulse intends to continue to seek and build transformative industry collaborations in real estate required to scale our network and match the demand of current and future EV drivers,” Sujay Sharma, CEO bp pulse Americas, adds.

Houston space tech company reaches major milestone for engine technology

fired up

A Houston company that's creating the next generation of space exploration technology is celebrating a new milestone of one of its technologies.

Intuitive Machines reports that its VR900 completed a full-duration hot-fire test, qualifying it for its IM-2 lunar mission. With the qualification, the company says its VR3500, an engine designed for larger cargo class landers, also advances in development.

The engine technology is designed, 3D-printed, and tested all at Intuitive Machines' Houston facility, which opened in the Houston Spaceport last year.

Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus says in a news release that the company's goal was to lead the way in scalable deep space engines as the industry heads toward lunar missions.

“This validated engine design meets current mission demand and paves the way for our VR3500 engine for cargo delivery such as lunar terrain vehicles, human spaceflight cargo resupply, and other infrastructure delivery," Altemus continues. "We believe we’re in a prime position to build on our successful development and apply that technology toward current contracts and future lunar requirements for infrastructure delivery.”

Earlier this year, Intuitive Machines was one of one of three companies selected for a $30 million NASA contract for the initial phase of developing a rover for U.S. astronauts to traverse the moon’s surface.

Another Houston company has seen success with its engine testing. In March, Venus Aerospace announced that it's successfully ran the first long-duration engine test of their Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine in partnership with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

Houston is the most stressed out city in Texas, report finds

deep breaths

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but a new report by WalletHub shows Houston residents are far more stressed out than any other city in Texas.

Houston ranked No. 18 out of 182 of the largest U.S. cities based on work, financial, family-related, and health and safety stress, according to WalletHub's "Most & Least Stressed Cities in America (2024)" report. 39 relevant metrics were considered in the report, including each city's job security, the share of households behind on bills within the last 12 months, divorce rates, crime rates, among others.

Houston was ranked the most stressed out city in Texas, but it's still far less stressed than many other U.S. cities. Cleveland, Ohio took first place as the most stressed city in America, followed by Detroit, Michigan (No. 2), Baltimore, Maryland (No. 3), Memphis, Tennessee (No. 4), and Gulfport, Mississippi (No. 5).

Out of the four main categories, Houstonians are struggling the most with work-related stress, ranking No. 13 nationally. The report found Houston has the No. 1 highest traffic congestion rate out of all cities in the report. But at least Houston drivers are solidly average, as maintained by a separate Forbes study comparing the worst drivers in America.

Houston workers can rejoice that they live in a city with a generally high level of guaranteed employment, as the city ranked No. 151 in the job security comparison. The city ranked No. 16 nationwide in the metric for the highest average weekly hours worked.

Houston fared best in the financial stress category, coming in at No. 72 nationally, showing that Houstonians aren't as worried about pinching pennies when it comes to maintaining a good quality of life. The city ranked No. 39 in the comparison of highest poverty rates.

Here's how WalletHub quantified Houston's stress levels:

  • No. 17 – Health and safety stress rank (overall)
  • No. 36 – Family stress rank (overall)
  • No. 63 – Unemployment rates
  • No. 81 – Percentage of adults in fair/poor health
  • No. 95 – Divorce rate
  • No. 96 – Percentage of adults with inadequate sleep

WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe said in the report that living in particularly arduous cities can play a big role in how stressed a person is, especially when considering uncontrollable circumstances like family problems or work-related issues.

"Cities with high crime rates, weak economies, less effective public health and congested transportation systems naturally lead to elevated stress levels for residents," Happe said.

Happe advised that residents considering a move to a place like Houston should consider how the city's quality of life will impact their mental health, not just their financial wellbeing.

Other Texas cities that ranked among the top 100 most stressed cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 20 – San Antonio
  • No. 38 – Laredo
  • No. 41 – Dallas
  • No. 47 – Corpus Christi
  • No. 61 – El Paso
  • No. 68 – Fort Worth
  • No. 71 – Brownsville
  • No. 75 – Arlington
  • No. 78 – Grand Prairie
  • No. 88 – Garland
The full report and its methodology can be found on wallethub.com

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.