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In his role as investor, Matthew McConaughey backs Texas startup

Matthew McConaughey invests in startups, including one based in Austin. University of Texas at Austin/Facebook

Matthew McConaughey is far more than an Oscar-winning actor. He’s the “Minister of Culture” for the University of Texas. He’s a professor at UT and a best-selling author. And he’s co-owner of Austin FC, the Major League Soccer team.

But did you know the Austin celebrity also invests in startups?

McConaughey owns a stake in several businesses, and it turns out one of them is based in Austin. In an email interview with Fast Company magazine, McConaughey revealed he’s an investor in Workrise, an Austin company whose workforce management platform matches skilled workers with employers in the energy industry.

As an investor, McConaughey says he looks for companies “that have a purpose to uplift, empower, construct, redefine, and bring a new or renewed health to individuals, communities, and systems.”

Formerly known as RigUp, Workrise rebranded in early 2021. Since its founding eight years ago, the company has raised $752.5 million from major investors such as 137 Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Baillie Gifford, Bedrock Capital, Brookfield Growth Partners, Founders Fund, Franklin Templeton, and Moore Strategic Ventures.

“We founded RigUp in 2014 on the premise that technology could be used to more efficiently and effectively source skilled labor across the oil and gas industry. In the years that ensued, we found that our approach could be taken further; we could help address a much larger socioeconomic shift across the infrastructure industry,” co-founder and CEO Xuan Yong said last year.

“Today, Workrise reflects our aim to bridge the skilled labor gap across industries, to leverage technology and data to empower skilled workers — and, in turn, the economy at large — so the U.S. can prepare for an infrastructure renaissance,” he added.

A little over a year after its rebranding, Workrise laid off an undisclosed number of employees and streamlined its business offerings. Before the layoffs, the company was valued at $2.9 billion.

“Filling the skilled labor gap will be essential to our continued economic growth and recovery, and Workrise is at the forefront of that effort,” Allen Narcisse, chief operating officer at Workrise, said last year. “Workrise has already proven that traditional ways of staffing large projects are ripe for disruption.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

This Houston-based SPAC has announced the tech company it plans to merge with. Photo courtesy of Gow Media

A Houston SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, has announced the company it plans to merge with in the new year.

Beaumont-based Infrared Cameras Holdings Inc., a provider of thermal imaging platforms, and Houston-based SportsMap Tech Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: SMAP), a publicly-traded SPAC with $117 million held in trust, announced their agreement for ICI to IPO via SPAC.

Originally announced in the fall of last year, the blank-check company is led by David Gow, CEO and chairman. Gow is also chairman and CEO of Gow Media, which owns digital media outlets SportsMap, CultureMap, and InnovationMap, as well as the SportsMap Radio Network, ESPN 97.5 and 92.5.

The deal will close in the first half of 2023, according to a news release, and the combined company will be renamed Infrared Cameras Holdings Inc. and will be listed on NASDAQ under a new ticker symbol.

“ICI is extremely excited to partner with David Gow and SportsMap as we continue to deliver our innovative software and hardware solutions," says Gary Strahan, founder and CEO of ICI, in the release. "We believe our software and sensor technology can change the way companies across industries perform predictive maintenance to ensure reliability, environmental integrity, and safety through AI and machine learning.”

Strahan will continue to serve as CEO of the combined company, and Gow will become chairman of the board. The transaction values the combined company at a pre-money equity valuation of $100 million, according to the release, and existing ICI shareholders will roll 100 percent of their equity into the combined company as part of the transaction.

“We believe ICI is poised for strong growth," Gow says in the release. "The company has a strong value proposition, detecting the overheating of equipment in industrial settings. ICI also has assembled a strong management team to execute on the opportunity. We are delighted to combine our SPAC with ICI.”

Founded in 1995, ICI provides infrared and imaging technology — as well as service, training, and equipment repairs — to various businesses and individuals across industries.

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