Texas Business Report: Fossil is a Smart One to Watch
Google unveiled a preview of its upcoming line of smartwatches this week, announcing Tuesday that it will partner with Richardson-based Fossil Inc. and other companies to “support the extension of Android into wearable technology with a new operating system it’s calling Android Wear,” the Dallas Morning News reports. Investors reacted favorably to the news, bumping Fossil’s share price 4.6 percent, according to MarketWatch.
Electronics makers Motorola (a Google subsidiary) and LG are also working on Android-powered watches, which are leading the way in the emerging wearable tech craze. The devices will offer features including text messaging, maps, weather reports, and customized app notifications, according to the Verge. Fossil’s involvement in the project is “still very much in the formative research and development stage,” said an executive quoted by the Morning News.
The Bottom Line: The fashion accessories maker is eager to break into the smartwatch market after gradually working its way out of a post-recession slump for the last several years. MarketWatch quoted analysts who said the announcement helped allay investor concerns that Fossil was “ignoring or at least not prioritizing the smartwatch threat.”
Media General Inc., the owner of dozens of TV stations nationwide, said Friday that it plans to buy Austin-based LIN Media for $1.6 billion, establishing the country’s second-largest local TV broadcasting company, the New York Times reports. If the deal goes through, the merged company will “own 74 stations in 46 markets and reach 26.5 million households, or 23 percent of the market in the United States.” LIN operates Austin’s NBC affiliate KXAN as well as four other stations in Texas.
The Bottom Line: The Times describes the deal (and others like it) as a direct response to Comcast’s planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable, which “could put pressure on local television groups like Media General and LIN, which are paid by cable operators for the right to carry their local stations.” By merging, the local network groups could “have more leverage at the bargaining table” in those negotiations.
Bad Nukes Travel Fast
U.S. Energy Department officials said this week that Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists LLC has agreed to temporarily store “several thousand cubic meters” of nuclear waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory at its dump in Andrews County, just north of Odessa, the Wall Street Journal reports. A leak last month at the lab’s waste repository in New Mexico exposed seventeen workers to radiation, prompting federal authorities to shut down the facility and order the lab to deposit its radioactive materials elsewhere until the plant is safe to reopen.
The Bottom Line: No details about the financial arrangement with Waste Control Specialists have been disclosed. The government lab has until June 30 to move the waste, pending an environmental review.
Winner of the Week: Q2 Holdings Inc.
Austin’s first IPO of 2014 got a warm reception on Wall Street Thursday, as shares of banking software maker Q2 Holdings Inc. gained nearly 16 percent in the company’s first day on the New York Stock Exchange, the Austin Business Journal reports. Initially priced at $13, Q2’s shares peaked at $17.38 (a 30 percent jump) before closing at $15.17. The company, which sells IT security software to banks and credit unions, has 425 employees at its Austin headquarters. Finance blog The Street described the rally as “one of the first in what could be a resurgence in tech IPOs in the next several weeks.”
Loser of the Week: Machete Productions LLC
Producers of Robert Rodriguez’s 2013 film Machete Kills are accusing the Texas Film Commission of unconstitutionally refusing to award incentives for the production because of its “perceived political nature,” the Austin Chronicle reported this week. Machete Productions LLC, a California company that provided a portion of the funding for the film, sued the TFC commissioner and four former officials for denying its application for reimbursement under the incentives program, which funds a portion of a film’s budget if the project meets certain requirements.
The producers are disputing a rule that allows the TFC to deny incentives for “projects that include inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion”—a policy they claim violates the First, Fifth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as a clause of the Texas Constitution, according to the Chronicle.
Rodriguez, who is not affiliated with Machete Productions LLC, is attempting to steer clear clear of the matter. In a statement, the director and owner of Troublemaker Studios in Austin wrote that he does “not approve of this lawsuit in any way, shape or form,” adding that state officials had told the financiers in advance that the project wouldn’t qualify for a grant, but “they chose to move forward, knowing full well that the film would not receive money from the state.”