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Business Briefs: Marcus Graham Project Partners With Hennessy on $1 Million Accelerator Fund

Plus: Yum! Brands makes second big tech buy, Dallas Bar Association to rename Belo Mansion, o9 Solutions inks record bookings, and more.
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Henessey USA

Cognac maker Hennessy is collaborating with Dallas-based Marcus Graham Project to help create a more equitable landscape for Black entrepreneurs. Together, they’ve created the “Never Stop Never Settle Society,” a $1 million growth accelerator that aims to provide high-impact funding, resources, and infrastructure.

Awards will range from lump-sum funds in the amount of $50,000 to select social impact ventures, access to the digital hub The Gathering Spot Connect, and opportunities at Moët Hennessy’s headquarters in New York City.

“Access to capital resources to allow for authentic growth has traditionally been a barrier,” said Lincoln Stephens, co-founder and CEO of the Marcus Graham Project. “For over a century now, Hennessy’s participation in the Black community has transcended typical corporate action, and I’m excited to be part of this next chapter that substantively uplifts entrepreneurship as a means towards closing the wealth disparity.”

Applications can be made here.

Bar Association to Change Belo Mansion HQ Name

The Dallas Bar Association’s board of directors voted unanimously yesterday to change the name of its Belo Mansion headquarters, citing namesake A.H. Belo’s ties to the Confederacy. Although a new name has not yet been determined, the renaming process is underway.

In March, A.H. Belo Corp., owner of The Dallas Morning News, announced it was seeking approval to rename itself as Dallas News Corp.

The Belo Mansion, on Ross Avenue in the Dallas Arts District, was built by A.H. Belo, a former Confederate Army officer, in the 1890s. The Dallas Bar, one of the largest bar associations in the country, acquired the former home from granddaughter Helen Belo Morrison in 1977.

The organization began reviewing the property’s name in the summer of 2020, following the death of George Floyd. “Our ability to hold events in a venue that is welcoming to every member of our diverse association and city is vital to this strength,” said Aaron Tobin, president of the Dallas Bar Association. “Our review, and ultimately our board’s decision to rename our headquarters building properly reflects who we are as an association and doubles-down on our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.”

YUM! Brands Makes Tech Buys

YUM! Brands Inc. has acquired Tictuk Technologies, a leading Israeli omnichannel ordering and marketing platform company. The move will help consumers globally access and order from Yum! brands—KFC, Taco Bell, The Habit Burger Grill, and Plano-based Pizza Hut—through popular social media platforms.

Last year, Yum! Brands’ digital sales hit a record $17 billion, an approximate 45 percent increase over 2019.

Earlier this month, the company announced its intention to acquire Kvantum, an AI-based consumer insights and marketing performance analytics company. Yum! expects both all-cash acquisitions to help grow its digital sales as they are deployed in markets all over the globe.

o9 Solutions Reports Strong Sales

Farmers Branch-based o9 Solutions reported record annual recurring revenue bookings in the first quarter of 2021, continuing its strong momentum from 2020. Software bookings grew 121 percent year over year, driven almost entirely by new client growth in the industrial, manufacturing, retail, apparel, and food and beverage industries.

O9 is an AI-driven integrated planning and operations platform provider for the enterprise market.

“On a daily basis, the complexity and volatility of demand and supply is exposing the problems with the silos in traditional operating models, leading to massive value leakage,” said Chakri Gottemukkala, CEO of o9. “Last quarter was no exception; the worldwide chip shortages and the Suez Canal blockage proved again that even small disruptions can have large impacts.”

The company is investing in future growth, hiring nearly 150 people in the first quarter, bringing its global headcount to more than 1,000.”

Whitley Penn Tapped by D Magazine Partners

Whitley Penn has been retained by D Magazine Partners to provide audit and tax advisory services. Founded in 1983, the firm is a longtime supporter of local businesses and nonprofits and is known as a process innovator in the delivery of accounting services. Felix J. Lozano III, CPE, CFE director of audit, leads the firm’s Dallas office as partner-in-charge.

The parent company of D CEO, Dallas-based D Magazine Partners was founded in 1974 by Wick Allison, with the publication of D Magazine. The company now publishes D Home, D Weddings, and, as well as People Newspapers. DMP also owns a content marketing agency, D Custom, which serves Fortune 500 clients nationwide.

Shokworks Debuts New Skills-based Game

In collaboration with entrepreneur and poker aficionado Rob Huxley, Dallas based Shokworks has launched a new skills-based game, High Speed Hands. Based on the TV pilot Poker Showdown, players must identify the best poker hand from four available choices. The player who identifies the winning hand fastest wins.

Shokworks drew upon its proprietary X/R and gaming studio. Led by Alejandro Laplana, the company also recently partners with Rivals Media to launch a sports gamification platform that engages fans to participate while raising funds for nonprofits.

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