The New Houston

On this episode of Investing With Purpose, Kyle discusses the new Houston. Kyle talks about the evolving economy and amazing opportunities that Houston offers for companies and individuals with can-do attitudes. Enjoy!


“Once a predominantly oil and gas focus town today, the nation’s fourth-largest city is a diverse, vibrant metro filled with talented people, a dynamic quality of life and a variety of growing industries from healthcare and digital tech, to manufacturing and trade.”



0:00 – Intro
0:30 – Kyle gives us insight into his background and his love for Houston
2:16 – Houston reaches every nook of the global economy
2:56 – Houston is arguably the medical capital of the world – it is the largest life science destination in the world
4:17 – The Houston region is home to over 8,200 tech-related firms
5:16 – Rice University is currently developing a new innovation district in Midtown
6:18 – Houston’s 11 county region offers tremendous opportunities for companies and individuals with a can-do attitude
6:40 – Houston is filled with promise



I’ve lived in every major city in Texas. In full transparency, I wasn’t born in Houston, but I got here as quickly as I could when I was in the fourth grade when my dad got a transfer with his current job at IBM. Shout out to all my family in Tulsa, Oklahoma where I was born. My wife is from the Dallas area. We moved there shortly after we got married for a corporate job that I took to be closer to her family. After two years, we moved to Austin for another corporate job of mine as I continued to try to chase the corporate ladder.

Man, do we sure love Austin. We both went to college at Texas State University, which is in San Marcos, Texas, which is about 20 miles south of Austin. So naturally, we both spent a lot of time in this city pre-tech boom. There is nothing like the rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country on a clear dark night where you can count stars for days, or the entire experience of floating the Comal River, where you drop in next to Schlitterbahn waterpark and shock your system with the 60-degree water temperature, but only to find it refreshing after walking a mile from your car to the drop in with a giant tube and a cooler in your hand.

It’s all great, but there’s just something about Houston that draws me in. Maybe it was the good ol’ boy feel that I got every time I’d come back to visit my parents. Or could even be the fact that I just love my sports teams here. So I’d be able to freely watch the local games, whether it be the rockets, the Texans, or yes, even those beloved Astros. As hated as they may be outside of Houston, nothing will ever take away the feeling of winning our first World Series.

We finally moved back to the Houston area in December of 2011. And in the short amount of time that we were gone, I noticed a new Houston when we came back. In the 1970s Houston was the undisputed oil capital of the world and still is today to a certain extent. Through the dominance in oil and gas, Houston reaches every nook of the global economy. Which is what led WalletHub calling Houston the most diverse city in the US over New York City.

Oil was so successful and so important to Houston that it distracted the city. It caused it to miss out on the digital revolution that was affecting other cities like Austin, Dallas, Boston, Washington, and San Francisco just to name a few. While oil is still King here in Houston, it is a monarchy that is becoming constitutional, no longer absolute. Along with oil, the city is also home to a deep bench of aerospace, health care, and fortune 500 companies. Houston is actually home to 23 fortune 500 company headquarters.

Many outsiders aren’t aware that Houston is also arguably the medical capital of the world. Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center which has 106,000 employees, 61 institutions, 1000s of volunteers and over 160,000 patients visit a day. It is the largest life science destination in the world.

With the formation of the TMC innovation several years ago and the building of over 1 billion per year in sponsored research across member institutions. The Texas Medical Center is positioning itself as a leader of life science commercialization for decades to come. Innovation and technology adoption is the new prerequisite for survival in the coming wave of change that will alter Houston’s tech DNA for good, because the oil and gas sector has become notoriously adverse to change for as long as anyone can remember.

More so than any other global industry, the oil and gas industry has just been slow to adopt. In a recent study by Ernst and Young, approximately 90% of oil and gas executives agree that their organizations will have to change the way they operate. Among those polled, 80% are investing at least a moderate amount in digital technology and at least 43% have identified that data and analytics, cybersecurity, data science, design thinking, blockchain, and artificial intelligence are the top trends that will positively impact the business growth within the next three years.

The Houston region is also home to over 8200 tech-related firms, including more than 500 venture-backed startups. The nonprofit Houston exponential or HX was formed in 2017 to help grow the city’s digital startup ecosystem. Houston companies have received 1.9 billion in venture capital funding across 522 deals since 2014. Nearly half the funding has been routed to life science and health-related technology companies, which is an emerging sector and Houston’s innovation ecosystem. Through its $25 million HX venture fund of funds the HX or plans to make investments that will foster digital innovation in Houston and bolster the region’s tech sector.

A strong network of more than 30 incubators, accelerators, market spaces, and co-working spaces has helped strengthen the ecosystem in recent years. These hubs of innovation have created momentum and a critical mass of support for more startups. In fact, Rice University is currently developing a new innovation district in Midtown. Housed on a 9.4-acre site anchored by the former Sears Building the hub will bring the area’s entrepreneurial, corporate and academic communities together.

The nucleus of the South Main Innovation District will be the eye on a 270,000 square foot structure that will serve as a collaborative space serving businesses at all stages of the innovation cycle. A number of groups including the nonprofit just mentioned, HX will take up residence in this development once it’s complete as well. Also with Hewlett Packard recently announcing an HQ move from Silicon Valley into Houston. This further solidifies Houston’s progress towards innovation, and also takes advantage of the deep bench of digital and corporate talent to drive their success.

Once a predominantly oil and gas-focused town today, the nation’s fourth-largest city is a diverse, vibrant metro filled with talented people, a dynamic quality of life and a variety of growing industries from healthcare and digital tech to manufacturing and trade. Our 11-county region offers tremendous opportunities for companies and individuals with a can-do attitude. There’s still something to be said about the good old boy feel of Houston that will never die, but rather like a fine wine will only get better with age with more diversity continuing to infiltrate our great city. As R.E.M. said in the 2008 hit song called Houston, “Houston is filled with promise.”

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