Amazing.com CEO says he hired too fast

The Austin CEO who laid off half his employees in April said he hired too many workers in an effort to grow the company quickly.

Matt Clark, the CEO of business education website operator Amazing Academy LLC, posted in a May 26 blog that the cuts were needed in response to a new business model. The company that operates as Amazing.com had added too many workers during the last year and become “sluggish and bloated.”

Clark, who caught flak on social media last month when readers learned how the layoffs went down, wrote that he laid off 32 of his 62 workers to get Amazing Academy to the proper size.

Amid need to diversify, Dell’s PC business still grows

The portion of total revenue generated by personal computers at Dell Inc. has risen 10 percentage points in the past year even as the company is looking to diversify beyond the slumping PC market.

In fiscal 2016, Dell reported generating 65 percent of its revenue from PCs compared with 55 percent in fiscal 2011. The Round Rock company’s client solutions business unit, which is mostly desktop and laptop computers, reported producing 68 percent of Dell’s net revenue during both fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The trend demonstrates the difficulty for a company as large and established as Dell to quickly shift its product mix. It’s also a factor that the impending $67 billion acquisition of EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is bound to affect

Capital Factory: center of gravity for tech startups

They call it a factory, but visitors won’t hear any clanging of machinery except possibly the soda machine.

On a drizzly Tuesday morning at the Capital Factory ­— the business accelerator and co-working space in downtown Austin — high-top tables in a kitchen featured cards with names of veteran business people scheduled to mentor younger entrepreneurs. In a larger adjacent room, entrepreneurs and technologists were scattered along four long tables and stared into laptop screens while sipping assorted beverages.

A framed Lyle Lovett poster adorned one wall, and the words “truly the center of gravity” covered a wall mural at the end of the room near rows of brightly painted storage lockers.

Popular coding boot camps flourish in Austin

It’s nearly 6 p.m. on a Thursday and the class members of the Austin Coding Academy are streaming onto the third floor of a historic, downtown building on Congress Avenue.

The class begins at 6:15 p.m. so nearly everyone was focused on grabbing a spot at one of the long, wooden tables and firing up their laptops. Sandwiches and drink bottles emerge from backpacks as about 12 students prepared to fuel up for the next three hours of instruction in the narrow room with pale-yellow walls.

The attendees, who were of many descriptions, ages, genders and sizes, chat quietly while instructor Kevin Colten sat among them at the table.

One of those students, Eddie Garcia, was at the end of the table wearing shorts, sneakers and a light-colored polo shirt. A native Austinite and former bartender, Garcia started coding classes in 2014 after deciding to change his career path. Bartending was great, but it was starting to wear on him so Garcia made up his mind to learn software coding at the age of 34. He didn’t even own a computer at the time.

Michael Dell to workers: Ignore the media

The CEO of Dell Inc. is urging employees of the Round Rock-based company to ignore media reports that the proposed $67 billion acquisition of EMC Corp. is having trouble with its financing.

Last week, according to a regulatory filing, Michael Dell told his employees the media was reporting developments to generate page views. He suggested employees not waste time reading about any delays with the merger that is scheduled to be completed by October.

“The media business is under a lot of stress and their business model is sort of cratering,” Dell said in the filing. “And what they do to survive in those tough times is they create something called click bait. They create an inflammatory headline. So and so was impregnated by aliens, or whatever, click on here to read about this story, see some ads, try to get some money. So don’t fall for that, okay. There’s going to be those kind of stories, just like there were during the (2013 shareholder buyout).”

The Feb. 9 comments occurred at Dell’s field readiness seminar, the SEC filing indicates. Dell spokesman David Frink said the event was attended by company sales workers but declined to provide the location or the number of employees who attended.

Socially conscious businesses on the rise in Austin

Money pretty much does grow on trees for Abianne Miller Falla and her sister JennaDee Detro.

Back in 2012, Abianne had a comfortable Washington, D.C., job with Lululemon Athletica Inc., the Canadian maker of yoga workout gear.

That’s when JennaDee called from Texas with a discovery — a tree on the family property seemed to be unaffected by the drought that started months before. Not only did the yaupon tree in Cat Spring, between La Grange and Houston, need little water, but its leaves could be harvested to produce a tea that was used by Native Americans hundreds of years ago.

That fact had since been mostly forgotten, except by a few businesses, and it smelled of opportunity. The sisters started a business called Cat Spring Tea LLC that would capitalize on the abundance of the leaves that grow year-round.

But this business isn’t all about money. From the beginning, Abianne and JennaDee decided to hire workers who had difficulty finding jobs for a variety of reasons, such as being former inmates or recovering from substance abuse.

Details revealed on Blackstone Groups’ bid for Dell buyout

Dell Inc.’s go-shop period in the run-up to its 2013 shareholder buyout prompted the Round Rock tech giant to pay another prospective buyer as much as $25 million in due-diligence expenses. What’s more, it caused a prospective Dell customer to have concerns the buyer would replace CEO Michael Dell, according to recently released court documents.

The Delaware court filing made in connection with a continuing shareholder appraisal lawsuit offers a rare glimpse at the inner workings of the $24.9 billion Dell buyout by Silver Lake Partners LP and Michael Dell, that took almost a year to complete.

HomeAway OKs $59M in vested shares for CEO

HomeAway Inc.’s board of directors has authorized CEO Brian Sharples to immediately vest restricted stock and options worth nearly $59 million.

The board approval came Nov. 4 — the same day Austin-based HomeAway announced plans to be acquired by travel industry giant Expedia Inc. for $3.9 billion, according to a Tuesday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

HomeAway’s compensation committee “approved the full single-trigger accelerated vesting of all of the outstanding stock options, restricted stock units and restricted stock awards of the company” held by Sharples, the filing indicates.

Inside the cluttered, creative mind of Gary Hoover

It was a Friday morning in July at the century-old downtown building housing The Austin Club when 15 sleepy-eyed business people sat around five round tables in an upstairs meeting room.

The gathering of the Technology Advisors Group featured a hot breakfast and plenty of coffee. But there was little need for caffeine because entrepreneur Gary Hoover was providing his own wake-up presentation to the group.

The perpetually energetic Austinite jolted the audience to attention as he outlined his latest business idea — a global network of innovation museums — during a 25-minute presentation without notes or PowerPoint images. Instead, Hoover relied on his memory and a machine-gun stream of facts to make the case for a venture that would focus on innovation in disciplines such as music, art, games, technology, health, food and medicine.

Riding the roads in Google’s autonomous car

What many consider to be the future of transportation sat motionless in a parking lot off West Anderson Lane Wednesday morning.

Today, it was my turn for a ride in a car without a driver.

A white Lexus RX450h outfitted with the latest scanning technology took me for a spin on local streets with two Google Inc. employees monitoring its every move. The car is one of 14 autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles technology giant Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) is testing in Austin.