Four of the six inductees are from Houston. Photos courtesy

The Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation has inducted six new Texans to its prestigious ranks — and four run their businesses from the Bayou City.

John Arnold, Ric Campo, Jeffery D. Hildebrand, and Paul W. Hobby — along with Austin-based Whitney Wolfe Herd and Dallas-based Thomas O. Hicks — will be honored at Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation's 40th Anniversary and Induction Dinner on on November 3.

“The Texas Business Hall of Fame is pleased to announce its six inductees for 2022," says TBHF Chair Amanda Brock in a news release. "Inductees are recognized as trailblazers in business and exemplary leaders who have made significant contributions in their local communities and beyond, through both philanthropic and civic engagement. Although inductees can be nominated by anyone from the general public, they are selected by their peers and determined by a majority vote by Hall of Fame members."

The TBHF honors business leaders across the state by celebrating and telling their stories. The organization also runs the Future Legends Scholar & Veteran Award Program that grants forty $15,000 awards to scholars and veterans who demonstrate entrepreneurship and innovation at 24 universities throughout the Lone Star State. Both the scholars and the six honorees will celebrated this fall.

“The selection process, combined with the organization’s emphasis on both economic and social impact makes this one of the most prestigious business honors in the state,” says TBHF Legend and the 2022 Master of Ceremonies, Richard Fisher.

Here's more information on this year's honorees:

  • Houstonian John Arnold is the founder of Centaurus Capital LP, an energy-focused, family office investment fund. He also created Arnold Ventures, a philanthropic investment firm focused on health care, education, criminal justice, and public finance.
  • Houston-based Camden Property Trust CEO Ric Campo has also sat on the board of directors of several Houston organizations, including Central Houston, Inc., Greater Houston Partnership, Baker Ripley, and The Coalition for the Homeless, and more.
  • Former Dallas Stars and Dallas Rangers, owner Thomas O. Hicks, is the chairman, founder and partner of Hicks Holdings LLC, a family office that owns and manages real estate, corporate assets and investments, including a private equity firm.
  • Jeffery D. Hildebrand, is the executive chairman and founder of Houston-based Hilcorp Energy Company, Harvest Midstream Company, and JDH Capital. He serves on the boards of Central Houston, Inc., the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston Police Foundation, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, Chairman of The University of Texas Investment Management Company, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
  • Houstonian Paul W. Hobby is a founding partner of Genesis Park and GP Capital. He's served as the chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission, the Greater Houston Partnership, the Houston Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas ,and the Texas General Services Commission.
  • Austin-based WhitneyWolfeHerd is the founder and CEO of Bumble Inc., the parent company that operates Badoo, Fruitz, and Bumble, three of the world’s fastest growing data apps worldwide. She led Bumble’s IPO in 2021 as the youngest women CEO to ever take a company public.

The awards dinner, presented by Texas Capital Bank, will be hosted in Houston at Hilton Americas on November 3. The dinner is preceded by a private awards luncheon, sponsored by Deloitte, for the Hall of Fame's 40 2022 Scholar & Veteran Award recipients.

Last year's dinner honored six Texans in November 2021, including Houston investment manager Gerald Smith, chairman and CEO of Smith Graham & Co.

Houstonian Gerald Smith (pictured with wife Anita Webber Smith) is now a Texas biz hall of famer. Photo courtesy of © Alexander's Fine Portrait Design

Houston financial powerhouse among 6 tycoons inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame

In great company

A local business powerhouse has been recognized for his years or work and success. Houston investment manager Gerald Smith, chairman and CEO of Smith Graham & Co., an investment management firm, can now call himself a Hall of Famer.

Recently, Smith was one of six Texas businessmen inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. He and the five other inductees were honored during a dinner at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.

More on this local tycoon from his Hall of Fame bio: He's also a board member of New York Life Insurance and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and chairman of the Texas Southern University Foundation. A graduate of Texas Southern University with a BBA in Finance, in 2012, Mr. Smith received an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, where he has established the Gerald B. Smith Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to help young people of color better compete in today's business environment.

The sole person of color on this year's list, Smith has received numerous awards for his entrepreneurial achievements and community service. Recently, the City of Houston proclaimed Gerald B. Smith and Anita Webber Smith Day for their community and philanthropic giving. He and Anita, have three sons — Marcus, Jackson and Jordan, and one daughter — Joy.

Aside from Smith, this year's inductees into the Texas Business Hall of Fame are:

  • Dallas billionaire Mark Cuban. He is owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks as well as chairman and CEO of AXS TV and one of the investors on ABC's Shark Tank.
  • Austin billionaire John Paul DeJoria, who built his fortune through Paul Mitchell hair care products and high-end tequila. Forbesestimated John Paul Mitchell's 2019 sales at roughly $900 million. In 1989, DeJoria co-founded Patrón, the first ultra-premium tequila. Patrón, now the world's No. 1 ultra-premium tequila, was sold to Bacardi in 2018 for $5.1 billion.
  • Fort Worth private investor John Goff. He was co-founder, vice chairman, and CEO of Crescent Real Estate, which Morgan Stanley bought in 2007 for $6.5 billion. Two years later, he bought back the company in partnership with Barclays Capital. Today, Goff is chairman of Crescent Real Estate as well as Houston-based Contango Oil & Gas. He owns The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dallas and Fort Worth-based spa company Canyon Ranch
  • Dallas private investor Morton Meyerson. Most notably, he is former chairman and CEO of Plano-based EDS and former chief technology officer at GM.
  • Dallas executive Randall Stephenson. He is former chairman and CEO of Dallas-based tech, media, and telecom giant AT&T.
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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston tech platform raises series C round backed by Mastercard

money moves

Hello Alice, a fintech platform that supports 1.5 million small businesses across the country, has announced its series C round.

The amount raised was not disclosed, but Hello Alice reported that the fresh funding has brought the company's valuation to $130 million. Alexandria, Virginia-based QED Investors led the round, and investors included Mastercard, Backstage Capital, Guy Fieri, Golden Seeds, Harbert Growth Partners Fund, How Women Invest I, LP, Lovell Limited Partnership, Tyler “Ninja” and Jessica Blevins, and Tamera Mowry and Adam Housley, per a news release from the company.

“We are thrilled to hit the milestone of 1.5 million small businesses utilizing Hello Alice to elevate the American dream. There are more entrepreneurs launching this year than in the history of our country, and we will continue to ensure they get the capital needed to grow,” Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz, co-founders of Hello Alice, say in a news release. “In closing our Series C, we welcome Mastercard to our family of investors and continue to be grateful to QED, How Women Invest, and our advocates such as Guy Fieri.”

The funding will go toward expanding capital offerings and AI-driven tools for its small business membership.

“Our team focuses on finding and investing in companies that are obsessed with reducing friction and providing superior financial services solutions to their customers,” QED Investors Co-Founder Frank Rotman says in the release. “Hello Alice has proven time and time again that they are on the leading edge of providing equitable access to capital and banking services to the small business ecosystem."

Hello Alice, which closed its series B in 2021 at $21 million, has collaborated with Mastercard prior to the series C, offering small business owners the Hello Alice Small Business Mastercard in 2022 and a free financial wellness tool, Business Health Score, last year. Mastercard also teamed up with other partners for the the Equitable Access Fund in 2023.

“With Hello Alice, we’re investing to provide support to small business owners as they look to access capital, helping to address one of the most cited business challenges they face,” Ginger Siegel, Mastercard's North America Small Business Lead, adds. “By working together to simplify access to the products and services they need when building and growing their business, we’re helping make a meaningful impact on the individuals who run their businesses, the customers they serve, and our communities and economy at large.”

While Hello Alice's founders' mission is to help small businesses, their own company was threatened by a lawsuit from America First Legal. The organization, founded by former Trump Administration adviser Stephen Miller and features a handful of other former White House officials on its board, is suing Hello Alice and its partner, Progressive Insurance. The lawsuit alleges that their program to award10 $25,000 grants to Black-owned small businesses constitutes racial discrimination. Gore calls the lawsuit frivolous in an interview on the Houston Innovators Podcast. The legal battle is ongoing.

Inspired by the lawsuit, Hello Alice launched the Elevate the American Dream, a grant program that's highlighting small businesses living out their American dreams. The first 14 grants have already been distributed, and Hello Alice plans to award more grants over the next several weeks, putting their grant funding at over $40 million.


NASA awards $30M to Houston space tech company to develop lunar rover

moon rider

Houston-based space technology company Intuitive Machines has landed a $30 million NASA contract for the initial phase of developing a rover for U.S. astronauts to traverse the moon’s surface.

Intuitive Machines is one of three companies chosen by NASA to perform preliminary work on building a lunar terrain vehicle that would enable astronauts to travel on the moon’s surface so they can conduct scientific research and prepare for human missions to Mars.

The two other companies are Golden, Colorado-based Lunar Outpost and Hawthorne, California-based Astrolab.

NASA plans to initially use the vehicle for its Artemis V lunar mission, which aims to put two astronauts on the moon. It would be the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 that astronauts would step foot on the lunar surface.

The Artemis V mission, tentatively set for 2029, will be the fifth mission under NASA’s Artemis program.

“This vehicle will greatly increase our astronauts’ ability to explore and conduct science on the lunar surface while also serving as a science platform between crewed missions,” says Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Intuitive Machines says the $30 million NASA contract represents its entrance into human spaceflight operations for the space agency’s $4.6 billion moon rover project. The vehicle — which Intuitive Machines has dubbed the Moon Reusable Autonomous Crewed Exploration Rover (RACER) — will be based on the company’s lunar lander.

“Our global team is on a path to provide essential lunar infrastructure services to NASA in a project that would allow [us] to retain ownership of the vehicle for commercial utilization during periods of non-NASA activity over approximately 10 years of lunar surface activity,” says exploration,” says Steve Altemus, CEO of Intuitive Machines.

Intuitive Machines’ partners on the RACER project include AVL, Boeing, Michelin, and Northrop Grumman.

Intuitive Machines plans to bid on the second phase of the rover project after finishing its first-phase feasibility study. The second phase will involve developing, delivering, and operating the rover.

In February, Intuitive Machines became the first private company to land a spacecraft on the moon with no crewmembers aboard. NASA was the key customer for that mission.

Houston expert: How to avoid 'ghost hiring' while attracting top talent

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One of the latest HR terms grabbing attention today is “ghost hiring.” This is a practice where businesses post positions online, even interviewing candidates, with no intention to fill them. In fact, the role may already have been filled or it may not exist.

Usually, an applicant applies for the job, yet never hears back. However, they may be contacted by the recruiter, only to learn the offer is revoked or a recruiter ghosts them after a first-round interview.

Applicants who are scouring job sites for the ideal position can become discouraged by ghost hiring. Employers do not usually have any ill intentions of posting ghost jobs and talking with candidates. Employers may have innocently forgotten to take down the listing after filling the position.

Some employers may leave positions up to expand their talent pool. While others who are open to hiring new employees, even if they do not match the role, may practice ghost hiring when they want a pool of applicants to quickly pull from when the need arises. Finally, some employers post job roles to make it look like the company is experiencing growth.

When employers participate in ghost hiring practices, job candidates can become frustrated, hurting the employer brand and, thus, future recruiting efforts. Even with the tight labor market and employee turnover, it is best not to have an evergreen posting if there is no intention to hire respondents.

There are several ways employers can engage candidates and, likewise, build a talent pool without misleading job seekers.

Network

A recruiter at their core is a professional networker. This is a skill that many have honed through the years, and it continues to evolve through social media channels. While many recruiters lean on social media, you should not discount meeting people face-to-face. There is power in promoting your organization at professional meetings, alumni groups and civic organizations. Through these avenues, many potential candidates will elect for you to keep them in mind for future opportunities.

Employee Referrals

When recruiters want to deepen their talent pool, they cannot discount the employee referral. Simply letting employees know and clearly stating the exploratory nature of the conversation can lead to stellar results. Employees understand the organization, its culture and expectations, so they are more likely to refer the company to someone who would be a good fit and reflect highly on them.

Alternative Candidates

In recent years, organizations and recruiters are more dialed into skills-first recruiting practices. Creating job postings that emphasize the skill sets needed rather than the years of experience, specific college degree or previous job titles, can yield a crop of candidates who may be more agile and innovative than others. Fostering relationships with people who fit unique skills needed within the organization can help you develop a deeper bench of candidates.

Contingent Workforce

Part-time workers, freelancers, and independent contractors are a great way to build connections and the talent pool. These workers and their skills are known entities, plus they know the organization, which makes them valuable candidates for open roles. If their expertise is needed on a regular basis, it is easier to have open conversations about a potential expansion of their duties or offer full-time work.

Internal Talent

Human resources and recruiters need to work with managers and leadership to intimately know what kind of talent lies within their own organization. Current employees may have the strengths, skills, and capabilities to fill new positions or roles. Through conversations with employees and their managers, you can identify who can flex different skills, but even more importantly, the ambition to grow within the company.

In every instance, it is crucial for recruiters and hiring managers to be transparent in their intentions. Communicating within your network that you are always looking for great talent to fill future roles sets the tone. When communicating with candidates, whether there is a pressing job opportunity or not, be clear from the onset regarding your intentions for hire. With a transparent approach to hiring and candidate development, you will keep the employer brand intact and maintain recruiting power.

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Jaune Little is a director of recruiting services with Insperity.