Fertitta and his family have gifted $50 million to UH's medical school. Photo courtesy

As Houston’s most high-profile billionaire and owner of the posh 5-star Post Oak Hotel and Houston Rockets, Tilman J. Fertitta has become synonymous with over-the-top opulence and big-time entertainment.

But the CEO of the massive Feritta Entertainment empire’s latest move has nothing to do with penthouses or point guards, but rather a legacy, game-changing appropriation meant to aid his home state’s health.

The longtime UH board member and former chairman and his family have just pledged $50 million to the University of Houston College of Medicine. In turn, the new medical school has been christened the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine.

The projected school, upon completion. Rendering courtesy of University of Houston

This landmark gift aims to address the state’s critical primary care physician shortage, (especially in low-income and underserved communities), as well as attract innovation-focused scholars, UH notes.

Additionally, the grant is meant to further clinical and translational research, with an emphasis on population health, behavioral health, community engagement, and the social determinants of health, according to a press release.

Here is how the Fertitta family gift will be distributed:

  • $10 million funds five endowed chairs for faculty hires who are considered national stars in their fields with a focus on health care innovation. This portion of the gift will be matched one-to-one as part of the University’s “$100 Million Challenge” for chairs and professorships, doubling the endowed principal to $20 million.
  • $10 million establishes an endowed scholarship fund to support endowed graduate research stipends/fellowships for medical students.
  • $10 million will cover start-up costs for the Fertitta Family College of Medicine to enhance research activities including facilities, equipment, program costs and graduate research stipends/fellowships.
  • $20 million will create the Fertitta Dean’s Endowed Fund to support research-enhancing activities.

No stranger to writing big checks, Fertitta donated $20 million to UH Athletics — the largest individual donation ever — in 2016 to transform UH’s basketball arena into the now high-tech Fertitta Center.

CultureMap caught up with the CEO (who just sold his Golden Nugget gaming for $1.6 billion), best-selling author, and Billion Dollar Buyer to discuss his landmark gift.

CultureMap: Congratulations on this legacy grant, which has been a long time coming. What does this gift mean to you, now that it’s finally official?

Tilman Fertitta: This was a vision of our chancellors and, you know, I’m on my third, six-year term and not been the chairman for eight years — and we started working on this, seven, eight years ago.

To be able to be in the beginning and the nucleus, and the idea, and what we wanted, and to get the approval from Austin—to watch it come to fruition, how often does somebody get to do a naming gift at the same time they had a lot to do with the creation of the school? So, it was very special in my heart.

CM: Many know you as the CEO of a hospitality empire, author, and even TV personality. But not many know of your commitment to healthcare.


TF: I think there’s one thing in this world that we definitely should always be treated equally on, and that's that’s equal health care for all. This medical school will serve the whole community.

We’re trying to recruit students who want to be primary physicians who will take care of the community that we live in. It’s just something that was very important to me in my whole family.

CM: Academia, scholarship, and research aside, this could essentially be looked at as seed capital for a fledgling operation. Is that a fair assessment?

TF: I know where you’re going with this and yes, it’s no different than business.

I have the vision to know that being in nearly the third largest city in America and a top 100 university in the United States — as University of Houston is according to U.S. News & World Report — that I know what this is going to be in 50 years. It’s no different than looking at another business that you start and you can have the vision to see how successful it'll be in the years to come.

Being on the ground floor of the University of Houston Medical School and being a part of it from its inception, and to help the seed money that will attract other money, I know that in the years to come what a special nationwide medical school this is going to be — because it’s in one of the great cities of America.

So, to be a part of it today and still be a part of it when I’m not here 50 years from now, maybe even sooner than that [laughs], you know, it’s going to be something very special to always be attached to.

CM: Other Houston medical schools here have distinctions in pivotal research or groundbreaking procedures. Is there a specific direction you’d like UH Med to take, going forward?

TF: Honestly, you know, what I’ve been saying? There’s a significant shortage of primary care physicians, not only in the country, but in the state of Texas. We ranked number 47th in the nation.

What we need in the state of Texas, as well in Houston and everywhere, is primary care physicians to take care of your everyday people—and to see them to know if you need a specialist.

I hope that this medical school looks back and we see that they’re graduating more primary care physicians than any other university in the United States and that's our goal. We’re going to be a med school of the community.

CM: You have zero problem with issuing directives, Tilman. What’s your message to the first graduating class, the one that will initially benefit from this $50 million gold mine?

TF: Go out and take care of the people.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Fertitta just had an exit of one of his companies. Photo by J. Thomas Ford

Tilman Fertitta's golden online gaming casino officially sold to major sports company

done deal

The acquisition of Tilman Feritta’s Golden Nugget Online Gaming, Inc. (Nasdaq: GNOG) by digital sports entertainment and gaming company DraftKings Inc. (Nasdaq: DKNG) is complete.

DraftKings announced that it has completed the acquisition, worth at approximately $1.6 billion (dubbed the “GNOG Acquisition”) on Thursday, May 5.

“This will be an alliance unlike any other in the digital sports, entertainment and online gaming industry,” Fertitta said in a statement . “Now that the acquisition is completed, I look forward to what the future will bring for our combined company and am confident this relationship will be a huge success.”

DraftKings notes in a press release that this GNOG Acquisition will allow the company to leverage Golden Nugget’s established brand to “broaden its reach into new customer segments and enhance the combined company’s iGaming product offerings through DraftKings’ vertically integrated tech stack and Golden Nugget Online Gaming’s unique capabilities – including Live Dealer.”

Notably, the GNOG Acquisition will not include brick and mortar Golden Nugget casinos; Fertitta will maintain ownership of those entities.

The GNOG Acquisition will deliver “significant” benefits to DraftKings, as well as expected savings of $300 million, a release notes. The company aims to deploy a multi-brand approach meant to enhance cross-selling opportunities and drive increased revenue.

Additionally, DraftKings and Fertitta Entertainment expect to rebrand some current and future retail sportsbook locations at Fertitta Entertainment-owned Golden Nugget properties into DraftKings sportsbooks.

As CultureMap previously reported, DraftKings' agreement with Fertitta Entertainment will provide for it to become the exclusive daily fantasy sports, sports betting, and iGaming partner of the Houston Rockets. Additionally, if sports betting becomes legal in Texas, DraftKings will open a sportsbook at the Toyota Center.

As the Houston Chronicle reports, DraftKings, headquartered in Boston, more than doubled its revenues to nearly $1.3 billion in 2021 from about $615 million in 2020, according to SEC filings. Its net loss widened to about $1.5 billion from $1.2 billion in 2020.

“Acquiring Golden Nugget Online Gaming gives us synergies across our business,” said Jason Robins, chairman and CEO of DraftKings, in a statement. “We anticipate that this acquisition will provide meaningful revenue uplift by utilizing our data-driven marketing capabilities and a dual brand iGaming strategy, gross margin improvement opportunities, and cost savings across external marketing and SG&A. I am proud to welcome the Golden Nugget Online Gaming team to the DraftKings family.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Richard Kinder once again lands on this prestigious list. Photo courtesy of BBVA

11 Houston billionaires join Elon Musk on Forbes' list of the world's richest

mo' money

In the battle of the world’s billionaires, a newly minted Texan comes out on top — and nearly a dozen Houstonians fare quite well.

Forbes magazine’s new ranking of the world’s richest people puts Texas transplant Elon Musk at No. 1, with a net worth of $219 billion. That’s up from $151 billion in 2021, $24.6 billion in 2020, $22.3 billion in 2019, and $19.9 billion in 2018. The CEO of Austin-based vehicle manufacturer Tesla and leader of a host of other businesses, Musk was ranked second on Forbes’ 2021 list. He sat behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, whose net worth in 2021 was pegged at $177 million. This year, Forbes estimates Bezos’ net worth is $171 billion.

Here in Houston, 11 locals land on the prestigious list. They are:

  • Oil mogul Jeffery Hildebrand: tied for No. 316, $7.5 billion, up from $2 billion
  • Pipeline magnate Richard Kinder: tied for No. 316, $7.5 billion, up from $7 billion
  • Houston siblings and pipeline heirs Dannine Avara, Scott Duncan, Milane Frantz, and Randa Duncan Williams: each tied for No. 375, $6.6 billion, up from $6 billion
  • Hospitality titan and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta: tied for No. 471, $5.6 billion, up from $4.6 billion
  • Houston software entrepreneur Robert Brockman: tied for No. 601, $4.7 billion, down from $6 billion
  • Toyota mega-dealer Dan Friedkin: tied for No. 665, $4.3 billion, up from $4.1 billion
  • Houston Texans owner Janice McNair: tied for No. 687, $4.2 billion, up from $4.1 billion
  • Hedge fund honcho John Arnold: tied for No. 913, $3.3 billion, unchanged from last year

Meanwhile, Nearly 30 other Texans appear in this year’s top 1,000. Here, they are grouped by where they live and their global ranking, 2022 net worth, and 2021 net worth.

Austin

  • Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla: No. 1, $219 billion, up from $151 billion
  • Michael Dell, founder, chairman, and CEO of Round Rock-based Dell Technologies: No. 24, $55.1 billion, up from $45.1 billion
  • Venture capitalist Robert Smith: tied for No. 369, $6.7 billion, up from $6 billion
  • Tito’s Vodka baron Bert “Tito” Beveridge: tied for No. 637, $4.5 billion, down from $4.6 billion
  • Tech entrepreneur Thai Lee: tied for No. 709, $4.1 billion, up from $3.2 billion

Dallas

  • Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: tied for No. 185, $10.6 billion, up from $8.9 billion
  • Banking and real estate kingpin Andy Beal: tied for No. 201, $9.9 billion, up from $7.9 billion
  • Oil and real estate titan Ray Lee Hunt: tied for No. 386, $6.5 billion, up from $4.2 billion
  • Money manager Ken Fisher: tied for No. 509, $5.3 billion, down from $5.5 billion
  • Media magnate and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: tied for No. 601, $4.7 billion, up from $4.4 billion
  • Oil and gas guru Trevor Rees-Jones: tied for No. 637, $4.5 billion, up from $4 billion
  • Hotel and investment titan Robert Rowling: tied for No. 637, $4.5 billion, up from $3.9 billion
  • Oil baron W. Herbert Hunt: tied for No. 665, $4.3 billion, up from $2 billion
  • Margot Birmingham Perot: widow of tech and real estate entrepreneur H. Ross Perot Sr., tied for No. 665, $4.3 billion, up from $4.1 billion
  • Oil and gas tycoon Kelcy Warren: tied for No. 728, $4 billion, up from $3.4 billion
  • Real estate bigwig H. Ross Perot, Jr.: tied for No. 951, $3.2 billion, up from $1.6 billion

Fort Worth

  • Walmart heiress Alice Walton: No. 18, $65.3 billion, up from $61.8 billion
  • Oil and investment guru Robert Bass: tied for No. 536, $5.1 billion, unchanged from last year
  • Private equity magnate David Bonderma: tied for No. 637, $4.5 billion, up from $4.1 billion
  • Investor and oilman Sid Bass: tied for No. 883, $3.4 billion, up from $2.9 billion

Elsewhere in Texas

  • Sports and entertainment mogul Stan Kroenke (Vernon): tied for No. 183, $10.7 billion, up from $8.2 billion
  • Walmart heiress Ann Walton Kroenke (Vernon): tied for No. 227, $9 billion, up from $8.4 billion
  • Oil tycoon Autry Stephens (Midland): tied for No. 552, $5 billion, not previously ranked

“The tumultuous stock market contributed to sharp declines in the fortunes of many of the world’s richest,” Kerry A. Dolan, assistant managing editor of Wealth at Forbes, says of this year’s ranking. “Still, more than 1,000 billionaires got wealthier over the past year. The top 20 richest alone are worth a combined $2 trillion, up from $1.8 trillion in 2021.”

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Tilman's Fertitta Entertainment is one of the largest privately owned businesses in America. Photo by J. Thomas Ford

4 Houston firms land on Forbes’ list of America’s largest private companies

BIG BIZ IN H-TOWN

Some Houston-area companies have some major bragging rights. Forbes has released its new list of the country’s largest privately owned companies based on annual revenue, and five local firms land on the list. They are:

  • Car dealership group Gulf States Toyota, No. 45, $8.3 billion in annual revenue.
  • Energy company Calpine, No. 48, $8 billion in annual revenue.
  • Petroleum and petrochemical products marketer Tauber Oil, No. 61, $6.7 billion in annual revenue.
  • Casino, restaurant, and sports conglomerate Fertitta Entertainment, No. 166, $2.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • BMC Software, No. 219, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.

Elsewhere in Texas, San Antonio-based H-E-B ranks fifth on Forbes’ new list of the country’s largest privately owned companies based on annual revenue. According to Forbes, the grocery chain’s annual revenue is $32.8 billion, making it the largest private company in Texas. On its website, H-E-B reports annual sales of $32 billion.

The only other San Antonio company on the Forbes list is construction engineering company Zachry Group. It ranks 225th, with annual revenue of $2 billion.

Nearly all of the other Texas companies in the Forbes ranking are based in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. As well as the five Houston companies, 13 DFW companies companies show up on the list:

  • Grand Prairie-based alcohol and wine distributor Republic National Distributing, No. 25, $11.9 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based conglomerate Sammons Enterprises, No. 70, $5.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • McKinney-based roofing distributor SRS Distribution, No. 80, $5.4 billion in annual revenue.
  • Irving-based arts-and-crafts retailer Michaels, No. 81, $5.3 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, No. 101, $4.7 billion in annual revenue.
  • Irving-based electrical systems and equipment maker Consolidated Electrical Distributors, No. 103, $4.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Fort Worth-based food and beverage distributor Ben E. Keith, No. 107, $4.2 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based oil and gas explorer Hunt Consolidated, No. 113, $4 billion in annual revenue.
  • Frisco-based transportation and logistics software provider Transplace, No. 127, $3.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Addison-based cosmetics retailer Mary Kay, No. 164, $2.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • Plano-based senior healthcare provider Golden Living, No. 178, $2.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based general contractor Austin Industries, No. 217, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based transportation and logistics company Mode Transportation, No. 220, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.

One other company on the Forbes list, New Jersey-based IT company SHI International Corp., has a strong connection to Texas. Austin billionaire Thai Lee, with a net worth estimated at $4.1 billion, is co-founder, president, and CEO of SHI. The company ranks 28th on the Forbes list, with annual revenue of $11.1 billion.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Richard and Nancy Kinder are among America's most wealthy. Photo by Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group

Richard Kinder and 10 other Houston billionaires cash in on Forbes list of richest Americans

where's the money

Never one to overtly draw attention to himself, Houston pipeline magnate — and Memorial Park benefactorRichard Kinder has landed on a coveted list, as have 10 other Houstonians.

Forbes has released the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans, and Kinder ranks eighth in Texas and 128th nationally with an estimated net worth of $7.1 billion.

Meanwhile, Houston hospitality king and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta ranks 11th in Texas and 158th nationally with an estimated net worth of $6.3 billion.

Houston pipeline heirs Dannine Avara, Scott Duncan, Milane Frantz, and Randa Duncan Williams tie for 12th place in Texas and tie for 161st nationally. Each has an estimated net worth of $6.2 billion.

Software entrepreneur Robert Brockman ranks 19th in Texas and ties for 229th nationally with a net worth of $4.7 billion.

Oil mogul Jeffery Hildebrand ranks 20th in Texas and ties for 240th nationally with a net worth of $4.6 billion.

Toyota mega-dealer Dan Friedkin ranks 24th in Texas and ties for 253rd with an estimated net worth of $4.4 billion.

Houston Texans owner Janice McNair of Houston ranks 26th in Texas and ties for 269th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion.

Finally, local hedge fund honcho John Arnold ties for 30th in Texas and ties for 358th nationally with an estimated net worth of $3.3 billion.

Here's how billionaires from other major metros in Texas fared on the Forbes 400 list.

Austin

No shocker here: Tesla and SpaceX guru Elon Musk ranks No. 2 among the richest Americans and No. 1 among the richest Texans. What is shocking, however, is how much Musk's net worth skyrocketed from 2020 to 2021. Hint: It's more than $100 billion.

This year, the Forbes 400 estimates his net worth stood at $190.5 billion as of September 3. To give that some context, the size of the economy in the state of Kansas exceeds $193 billion.

Last year, Musk's estimated net worth was $68 billion. This means that from 2020 to 2021, his net worth exploded by $122.5 billion, or 180 percent.

Among the richest Americans, only Amazon's Jeff Bezos beats Musk — but not by much. The Forbes 400 pegs Bezos' net worth at $201 billion as of September 3, up from $179 billion at the same time last year.

Forbes lists Musk's residence as Austin, although he has said he spends much of his time in Boca Chica. The Texas Gulf Coast community hosts Starbase, a launch site for SpaceX rockets. Regardless of precisely where he lives, Musk does spend a lot of time in the Austin area, where Tesla is building a $1.1 billion vehicle manufacturing plant. Musk relocated to Texas last year.

Before Musk arrived in the Lone Star State, Walmart heir Alice Walton of Fort Worth ranked as the richest person in Texas. She's now in second place, with a net worth estimated at $67.9 billion. Walton ranks as the 12th richest American and richest American woman on this year's Forbes 400.

Aside from Musk, Austin billionaires who appear on the Forbes 400 are:

  • Michael Dell, founder, chairman, and CEO of Round Rock-based Dell Technologies. Estimated net worth: $50.1 billion. Texas rank: No. 3. U.S. rank: No. 18.
  • Robert Smith, founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. Estimated net worth: $6.7 billion. Texas rank: No. 9. U.S. rank: No. 141.
  • Vodka titan Bert "Tito" Beveridge. Estimated net worth: $4.8 billion. Texas rank: No. 18. U.S. rank: No. 224 (tie).
  • IT entrepreneur Thai Lee. Estimated net worth: $4.1 billion. Texas rank: No. 27 (tie). U.S. rank: No. 273 (tie).
  • Software entrepreneur Joe Liemandt. Estimated net worth: $3 billion. Texas rank: No. 33 (tie). U.S. rank: No. 377 (tie).
  • Jim Bryer, founder and CEO of venture capital firm Bryer Capital. Estimated net worth: $2.9 billion. Texas rank: 35 (tie). U.S. rank: No. 389 (tie).

Dallas-Fort Worth

Banking and real estate mogul Andy Beal of Dallas holds the No. 5 spot in Texas and No. 78 nationally. His estimated net worth is $9.9 billion.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones of Dallas sits at No. 7 in Texas and No. 86 nationally with an estimated net worth of $9.1 billion.

Money manager Ken Fisher of Dallas ranks 10th in Texas and 151st nationally with an estimated net worth of $6.4 billion.

Oil and real estate titan Ray Lee Hunt of Dallas ranks 16th in Texas and ties for 188th nationally with an estimated net worth of $5.7 billion.

Oil and investment mogul Robert Bass of Fort Worth ranks 17th in Texas and ties for 212th nationally with an estimated net worth of $5 billion.

Private equity kingpin David Bonderman of Fort Worth ties for 21st in Texas and ties for 247th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion.

Media magnate and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban of Dallas ties for 21st in Texas and ties for 247th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion.

Oil and gas honcho Trevor Rees-Jones of Dallas ties for 21st in Texas and ties for 247th nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion.

Hotel and investment guru Robert Rowling of Dallas ranks 25th in Texas and ties for 261st nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.3 billion.

Margot Birmingham Perot of Dallas, widow of tech and real estate entrepreneur H. Ross Perot Sr., ties for 27th in Texas and ties for 273rd nationally with an estimated net worth of $4.1 billion.

Oil and gas tycoon Kelcy Warren of Dallas ranks 29th in Texas and ties for 289th nationally with an estimated net worth of $3.9 billion.

Real estate bigwig H. Ross Perot Jr. of Dallas ranks 32nd in Texas and 363rd nationally with an estimated net worth of $3.2 billion.

Homebuilder Donald Horton and family of Fort Worth tie for 35th in Texas and tie for 389th nationally with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion.

Oil baron W. Herbert Hunt of Dallas ties for 35th in Texas and ties for 389th nationally with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Tilman Fertitta's online gambling biz has changed hands. Photo by J. Thomas Ford

Houston businessman sells online gaming casino in $1.56B deal with fantasy sports tech company

m&a

DraftKings, the nationally renown fantasy sports and online sportsbook company (Nasdaq: DKNG), announced it will acquire Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta's Golden Nugget Online Gaming, Inc. (Nasdaq: GNOG) in an all-stock transaction valued at $1.56 billion. In addition, DraftKings has reached an agreement with Fertitta Entertainment on a partnership with the Houston Rockets, Golden Nugget casinos, and the Landry's vast network of restaurants.

"Our acquisition of Golden Nugget Online Gaming, a brand synonymous with iGaming and entertainment, will enhance our ability to instantly reach a broader consumer base, including Golden Nugget's loyal 'iGaming-first' customers," Jason Robins, DraftKings' CEO and chairman of the board, said in a statement. "We look forward to Tilman being an active member of our Board and one of our largest shareholders."

Golden Nugget Online Gaming began operating in New Jersey in 2013. The company offers online gaming such as blackjack and slot machines that are accessible by computers, tablets, and smartphones. Live dealers enhance the experience for players.

Fertitta took Golden Nugget Online Gaming public in 2020. At the time, the deal valued the company at approximately $745 million. Fertitta currently owns approximately 46 percent of the shares in GNOG, according to a press release, and serves as its chairman and CEO.

"This transaction will add great value to the shareholders as two market leaders merge into a leading global player in digital sports, entertainment and online gaming," Fertitta said. "We believe that DraftKings is one of the leading players in this burgeoning space and couldn't be more excited to lock arms with Jason and the DraftKings family across our entire portfolio of assets, including the Houston Rockets, the Golden Nugget casinos, and Landry's vast portfolio of restaurants. This is a strong commercial agreement for both companies."

DraftKings' agreement with Fertitta Entertainment will provide for it to become the exclusive daily fantasy sports, sports betting, and iGaming partner of the Houston Rockets. Additionally, if sports betting becomes legal in Texas, DraftKings will open a sportsbook at the Toyota Center.

The boards of directors of both directors of both companies have approved the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals. It is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston startups raise funding, secure partnerships across space, health, and sports tech

short stories

It's been a new month and a few Houston startup wrapped up November with news you may have missed.

In this roundup of short stories within Houston startups and tech, three Houston startups across health care, space, and sports tech have some news they announced recently.

Houston digital health company launches new collaboration

Koda Health has a new partner. Image via kodahealthcare.com

Houston-based Koda Health announced a new partnership with data analytics company, CareJourney.

"This collaboration will aim to develop benchmarking data for advance care planning and end-of-life metrics," the company wrote on LinkedIn. "Koda will provide clinical and practice-based expertise to guide the construction of toolkits, dashboards, and benchmarks that improve ACP programs and end-of-life outcomes."

Koda Health announced the partnership in November..

“Beyond the checkbox of a billing code or completed advance directive, it’s important to build and measure a process that promotes thoughtful planning among patients, their care team, and their loved ones,” says Desh Mohan, MD, Koda's chief medical officer, in the post.

CareJourney was founded in 2014 in Arlington, Virginia.

"I'm hopeful next-generation quality measures will honor the patient’s voice in defining what it means to deliver high quality care, and our commitment is to measure progress on that important endeavor," noted Aneesh Chopra, CareJourney's co-founder and president.

Sports tech startup raises $500,000 pre-seed investment

BeONE Sports has created a technology to enhance athletic training. Photo via beonesports.com

Houston-founded BeONE Sports, an athlete training technology company, announced last month that it closed an oversubscribed round of pre-seed funding. The company announced the raise on its social media pages that the round included $500,000 invested.

Earlier in November, BeONE Sports completed its participation in CodeLaunch DFW 2022. The company was one of six finalists in the program, which concluded with a pitch event on November 16.

Space tech company snags government contracts

Graphic via cognitive space.com

The U.S. Air Force has extended Houston-based Cognitive Space’s contract under a new TACFI, Tactical Funding Increase, award. According to the release, the contract "builds on Cognitive Space’s work to develop a tailored version of CNTIENT for AFRL to achieve ultimate responsiveness and optimized dynamic satellite scheduling via a cloud-based API.

The $1.2 million award follows a $1.5 million U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research award that the company won in 2020 to integrate CNTIENT with commercial ground station providers in support of AFRL’s Hybrid Architecture Demonstration program.

“The TACFI award allows Cognitive Space to continue supporting AFRL’s vitally important HAD program to help deliver commercial space data to the warfighter,” says Guy de Carufel, the company’s founder and CEO, in the releasee. “CNTIENT’s tailored analytics platform will enable HAD and the GLUE platform to integrate modern statistical approaches to optimize mission planning, data collection, and latency estimation.”

Houston airport powers up new gaming lounge for bored and weary travelers

game on and wheels down

Local gamers now have a new option to while away those flight delays and passenger pickup waits at Hobby Airport.

Houston's William P. Hobby Airport is now one the first airports in the country to offer what's dubbed as the "ultimate gaming experience for travelers." The airport has launched a premium video game lounge inside the international terminal called Gameway.

That means weary, bored, or early travelers can chill in the lounge and plug into15 top-of-the-line, luxury gaming stations: six Xbox stations, five Playstation stations, four PC stations, all with the newest games on each platform. Aficionados will surely appreciate the Razer's Iskur Gaming Chairs and Kraken Headsets, along with dedicated high speed internet at each PC station.

The Gameway lounge pays homage to gaming characters, with wall accents that hark to motherboard circuits Crucial for any real gamer: plenty of sweet and savory snacks are available for purchase to fuel up on those fantasy, battle, or sporting endeavors. As for the gaming console stations, players can expect high definition screens, comfortable seating, and plenty of space for belongings.

Make video games a part of your pre-flight ritual. Photo courtesy of Gameway

This gaming addition comes just in time for the holiday rush, when travelers can expect long lines, delays, and are already planning for extended time for trips. As CultureMap previously reported, Hobby will see a big boost in travelers this season — the largest since 2019. Now, those on a long journey can plug in, decompress, and venture on virtual journeys of their own.

Texan travelers may be familiar with Gameway; the company opened its first two locations at Dallas Fort-Worth Airport. The buzzy lounge an industry wave of acclaim: Gameway was awarded Best Traveler Amenity in 2019 at the ACI-NA Awards and in 2020, voted “Most Innovative Customer Experience” at the Airport Experience Traveler Awards, per press materials.

Two new locations followed in 2021: LAX Terminal 6 and Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The first of Gameway's Ultra lounge brand opened in September at Delta's Terminal 3 in LAX.

Gaming culture is a way of life in the Bayou City , which hosts Comicpalooza, the largest pop culture festival in Texas, and is home to several e-sports teams, including the pro esports squad, the Houston Outlaws.

A delayed flight never seemed so ideal for gamers flying out of Hobby. Photo courtesy of Gameway

“Gameway is the real reason to get to the airport early,” said Co-Founder Jordan Walbridge in a statement. “Our mission is to upgrade the typical wait-at-the-gate experience with a new stimulating, entertaining option for travelers of all ages.”

Here's guessing Hobby might just see an increase in missed or late flight arrivals — as travelers simply must beat those big bosses, solve puzzles, or win sports matches in the lounge.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.