Futures Command, SparkCognition, Student Loan Hero, & More TX Tech

Let’s get caught up with the latest news from Xconomy Texas.

Austin will be the new home for the U.S. Army’s Futures Command, a technology-focused reorganization of the military branch’s operations. “The command is expected to assess the future operational environment, emerging threats, and new technologies in order to develop and deliver concepts, requirements, future force designs, and modern materiel solutions to meet our soldiers’ wartime needs,” the Army said in a press release. About 500 people are expected to work at the Futures Command, which is the first significant reorganization of the Army since 1973, the press release said.

SparkCognition, an Austin-based artificial intelligence company, is partnering with Boeing (NYSE: BA) on a project that could manage tens of millions of autonomous aircraft, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The deal comes after the world’s largest aerospace company invested in the startup through its Boeing Horizon X investment arm. SparkCognition CEO Amir Husain told the newspaper that “autonomous aircraft requires “leveraging AI and blockchain technology at every level for the safety, security, optimization, and reliability of this future transport system that will involve tens of millions of concurrently operating aircraft of all types.”

YouEarnedIt, which makes software related to employee management and retention, announced Thursday that it has acquired HighGround, which also makes software for HR departments. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but YouEarnedIt stated in a press release the acquisition comes following a strategic investment from Vista Equity Partners. YouEarnedIt, which is based in Austin, states that it has more than 400 customers worldwide from small employers to Fortune 100 companies.

—Financial services company Lending Tree has acquired Student Loan Hero, an Austin fintech startup, for $60 million. The transaction is expected to close later this quarter. Student Loan Hero is a personal finance website founded in 2012 that aims to help students manage their education debt. “The acquisition of Student Loan Hero is a strategic transaction that will allow LendingTree to quickly scale our student loan business,” Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree, said in the prepared statement.

—Two of Dallas-based accelerator Tech Wildcatters’ startups have been acquired. Forrester has purchased GlimpzIt, a San Francisco-based company that makes artificial intelligence and machine learning software that can help companies analyze feedback from customers. Brand Protection Agency, which is based in Dallas, was picked up by Ansira last month. Brand Protection makes software that helps manufacturers monitor, manage, and communicate with online resellers. Terms of both deals were undisclosed.

—Next time you’re flying through Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, a robot might be making your java, according to food tech publication The Spoon. Austin-based Briggo, which has developed a robotic coffee maker, announced it will be the first robot coffee maker in a U.S. airport. Customers place orders via an app and they are alerted by text when their customized caffeinated beverage is ready.

And, lastly, some funding news:

Smart Picture Technologies, an Austin startup that makes an app to create 3D models of rooms, raised $3.9 million in funding, according to a securities filing. The technology is used by home improvement retailers, home product companies and others for which being able to show products in 3D could help sales.

Cerebri AI, which makes artificial intelligence software to help predict consumer behavior, has raised $5 million in a Series A round. The funding was led by M12, which was formerly Microsoft Ventures. Others in on the round include the University of Texas Horizon Fund, WorldQuant Ventures, and Leawood Venture Capital. To date, the Austin-based startup has raised $10 million.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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