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.

Dallas startup launches app to delivery nearly anything

A Dallas startup is launching an app-based delivery service in Austin that goes beyond food delivery and ridesharing — and it’s hiring.

Get Me LLC, which was founded in early 2014 and started operating in Dallas last month, is launching a combination personal delivery and ridesharing service called Get Me. The company plans to host local driver sign-up events Wednesday through Sunday and expects to enlist 60 drivers initially in Austin, co-founder Jonathan Laramy said.

Taking a bite out of tech worker food perks

A proposal to tax the complimentary meals many technology companies provide workers is being watched carefully by Austin startups — but don’t expect any new rules to go into effect soon.

It’s possible that the measure being considered by the Internal Revenue Service and Department of the Treasury could go into effect in about two years at the earliest. But such proposals often take much longer to adopt.

Coding school and co-working space to open downtown

Coding school and co-working space operator Galvanize Inc. has confirmed plans to open offices next year in a new tower being built in downtown Austin.

The Denver-based company, which operates as a combination coding school and co-working space, is scheduled to start finishing out its space in October in an office building across the street from the skyscraper that Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) is moving into at the site of the old Green Water Treatment Plant on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake at West Cesar Chavez and San Antonio Streets.

Galvanize plans to occupy three floors — 25,000 square feet — of the building and employ 25-30 workers, Mandes said.

Gary Hoover to launch chain of innovation museums

Austin serial entrepreneur Gary Hoover plans to raise $6 million to $8 million to open a local innovation museum that would be the first in a chain.

Hoover told the Technology Advisors Group Friday morning that the Austin market is underserved by museums, and indoor activities would be popular alternative especially during times of inclement weather. The success of businesses such as TopGolf have proven the experience-based business model to be a solid one.

“Our society is shifting from products to services,” he said. “People are looking for stuff to do. People are looking for experiences.”

Local energy company goes against the grain

An Austin oil and gas exploration company is banking on generating healthy returns in a volatile energy market — with $250 million to get it done.

Austin’s American Resource Development LLC, known as Ameredev, launched in July with the financing and a team of experienced energy executives in place. That combination is helping to position the startup amid an industry contraction and sluggish oil prices, CEO Parker Reese said.

Former Rackspace execs launch Austin VC firm

Three former Rackspace Hosting Inc. executives have quietly launched a venture capital firm in Austin.

Lanham Napier, the San Antonio company’s former CEO, founded BuildGroup Management LLC in June with former Rackspace General Counsel Alan Schoenbaum and former Rackspace General Manager Jim Curry, according to their online profiles. Schoenbaum and Curry could not immediately be reached for comment.

Firm spokesman Josh Jones-Dilworth said federal regulations prevent BuildGroup Management officials from publicly commenting on any firm activities.

BuildGroup, which operates a bare-bones website, describes itself as a “growth outfitter that equips entrepreneurs for the long haul.” The website doesn’t list any investment information, fund sizes or portfolio companies.

Commune-like facility opens for Austin technologists

An Austin entrepreneur is establishing a commune-like residence with space for 30 technology workers. He expects it will be the first of five in Austin.

Martin Wallner, the CEO of Macro House LLC, said he’s getting 20 applications per week for the so-called “co-living” space at Guadalupe Street and Nelray Boulevard, which is just north of downtown. The first 10 residents began moving into the one-story building last week. It was once a senior housing complex.

Messaging company pivots away from disasters

Alert Media Inc. has tweaked its business model after finding its messaging delivery system is needed for more than emergencies.

The Austin company discovered that its mass-notification service is used by all types of customers with dispersed workers. As such, Alert Media is now marketing its service as a streamlined day-to-day communication tool instead just in times of disaster, CEO Brian Cruver said.

WeWork execs go silent on local expansion plans

WeWork Companies Inc., the co-working space operator eager to promote its opening of a downtown office in February, has gone mute amid speculation that it’s planning a major expansion in Austin.

Executives at other tech companies looking for office space said they have learned that WeWork is planning a major expansion of its downtown office space just blocks from the Capitol and in the heart of downtown.

The New York company isn’t providing any details about a possible expansion and its local manager couldn’t be reached on Friday. A front-desk worker at the Congress Avenue WeWork office said the manager was too busy to take questions from a reporter.

WeWork spokeswoman Karen Germ hasn’t answered any questions about the possibility of local expansion. Sarah Allen, the company’s community engagement manager, referred questions to other WeWork officials.

In February, WeWork opened a space taking up the 14th floor of 600 Congress Ave. that was projected to serve about 500 members. Use of a dedicated desk was expected to cost $400 per month, a company executive said at the time.

WeWork, which was founded in 2010 by CEO Adam Neumann, enables members to lease common area spaces, labs or offices. The cost of leases depend on locations.

The company employs 300 workers. Fidelity Management & Research Co. and others have invested $400 million in WeWork and it is now reportedly worth $10 billion.

Neumann has told the Wall Street Journal he plans to expand WeWork to 60 locations.

About 15 co-working spaces already operate in Austin. Most are independently owned businesses that partner with other service providers on a smaller scale.