Dell pays $75K to group that awarded its CEO

Dell Inc. is now listed as a donor to a 62-year-old environmental group that honored CEO Michael Dell six months ago.

Round Rock-based Dell was added to Keep America Beautiful Inc.’s roster of “corporate sponsors” contributing $50,000 to $99,999.

In December, Michael Dell accepted the Connecticut-based group’s “Vision for America” award at a luncheon event in which Dell paid $75,000 to sponsor tables for customers, partners and employees.

Keep America Beautiful has been operating since 1953. The group’s spokesman, Larry Kaufman, said in December that Dell had previously only contributed to the group’s local affiliate instead of the national organization.

 The award was in recognition of Dell’s sustainability initiatives in communities nationally, according to a Dell news release.

Robin Schneider, executive director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, said the pay-for-play arrangement is not unusual for such awards.

“Honorees are expected to give or find people to give when they’re being honored,” she said. “I don’t think that it’s ever stated, but it’s everyone’s assumption. It doesn’t smell good that’s for sure.”

Dell, the No. 3 computer maker in the world, employs 14,000 workers in Central Texas.

In late 2013, Michael Dell led an investor group that completed a $24.9 billion leveraged buyout of shareholders in an effort to enable the company to transition beyond personal computers to the higher profit margins provided by software, services and other networking tools.

Venture capital firms: Women need not apply

As a venture capitalist, Lauren Chauret can work in two areas that she’s most interested in: business and health care.

The Dallas native is partner and director of operations at PTV Healthcare Capital, an Austin VC firm investing in expansion- and late-stage companies. It’s a position that provides Chauret with what she considers “the perfect combination” of her business interests. So she was naturally disappointed — and a bit surprised — when during a recent career fair at the University of Texas only 20 percent of the applicants to her firm were female.

Cover story: Austin venture capital firms fill the capital gap

Entrepreneurs and investors often speak of the so-called capital gap.

They’re typically referring to the challenge that exists for a startup between the arrival of seed funding and more substantial institutional investment designed to take a company beyond concept to the customer.

In Austin, there’s also a perception gap

Google manages state and local officials

In November, Austin police blocked off the ends of Bedford Street running through the Booker T. Washington Terrace, a federal housing development in East Austin.

There was no emergency. This was yet another in a series of highly-orchestrated media events Google Inc. has conducted to promote its ultra-high-speed Internet service known as Google Fiber.

The rollout is one of the biggest business endeavors to hit this booming city this century, and it took a ton of political prowess to pull off.

Michael Dell goes public after going private

Michael Dell has been more public since taking his company private.

The CEO of Round Rock-based Dell Inc. has ramped up his media interviews and public appearances during the first year after completing a leverage buyout of its shareholders. He has been active on Twitter, made the keynote speech at the company’s users conference, penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal, spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and met with an assortment of print and broadcast reporters.

State tech agency executive paid $170K

The Texas Department of Information Resources’ newly appointed deputy executive director will receive an annual salary of $170,000.

Todd Kimbriel was promoted to the new position last week after just nine months as the DIR’s chief operations officer. Before that he was director of e-government and information technology services for nearly seven years, according to his online profile.

Kimbriel has worked for the DIR since 2008 and the new appointment was effective Sept. 1. The agency’s public information officer supplied the salary figure following a public records request by the Austin Business Journal.

Proposed Texas crowdfunding rules

Texas regulators will tackle crowdfunding in the coming months, and there are indications that the state’s first rules will be crowd pleasers.

The funding rules considered by the Texas State Securities Board would enable unaccredited investors to invest up to $5,000 a year in startups without requiring proof of large income levels. They would also streamline the process and loosen the reporting requirements for startups.

The final form of the rules is important to Austin because of the cluster of startups — especially technology companies — relying on investment capital to grow beyond the early stage. Also, it would come at a time when interest in such investing activity is at an all-time high in Central Texas.

State tech fund invests $17 million in failed startups

Fourteen startups that received a total of more than $17 million from a Texas technology fund have failed or gone bankrupt.

The companies received the capital from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund managed by Gov. Rick Perry’s office.

ETF official joins funded company’s board

A former Texas Emerging Technology Fund official is now on the board of the biotechnology company that received the second-largest non-research grant in the fund’s history and caused controversy three years ago by allegedly circumventing the fund’s normal approval process.