SAN ANTONIO — Ed Whitacre, former chairman and CEO of AT&T and General Motors, has joined former Vice President Dick Cheney and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to invest in a San Antonio-based technology company that collects oil-field data.
The company, WellAware Holdings Inc., said Wednesday it has secured $37 million in funding that was led by Activant Capital Group LLC, a New York-based private equity firm, and Slim, an investor and CEO of América Móvil, one of the largest mobile phone carriers in Latin America.
Activant invests in technology and software businesses, according to its website.
Whitacre and Cheney, who also invested, are board members at WellAware.
WellAware was co-founded in 2012 by Matt Harrison, a former vice president at San Antonio-based InCube Laboratories, an incubator for biotech companies.
WellAware has created software that lets energy companies track wells, pipelines and other oil-field equipment using smartphones, iPads and computers. Its technology also allows users to control oil and gas production remotely.
The company’s technology helps the oil and gas industry improve efficiency and reduce downtime by catching equipment problems as they happen. The company’s data-gathering also is able to point to potential problems, such as a change in pressure, before equipment fails.
In an interview last fall, Harrison said he funded the company himself for several months in 2013 while he tested the technology. WellAware then raised $9 million in first-round financing from private investors, and last year it launched its real-time, remote monitoring business in South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale.
Harrison said the company’s $37 million cash infusion will be used to continue to develop software and network communications and to take the company’s technology to other U.S. shale plays.
The company has completed its Eagle Ford Shale network, and “we’ve gotten pretty far down the road in completing the Permian Basin” in West Texas, he said.
“With this round of funding, I expect that we’ll be able to expand throughout the U.S. and internationally as well.”
He expects the company to be in the early stages of planning to set up international networks in the next 12 to 24 months.
Harrison said Cheney joined WellAware’s board earlier this month, while Whitacre joined in January.
“He (Whitacre) and I met, and obviously given his experience in business and particularly at AT&T, he was somebody I was very interested in learning from. He has been truly instrumental in continuing to help this business move forward.”
Whitacre was not available for comment Wednesday.
Harrison said his company was introduced to Activant through Raymond James & Associates, which acted as the placement agent in the financing.
Other board members at WellAware include Raymond Welder III, president of San Antonio-based Welder Exploration & Production Inc., and Gene Powell, San Antonio developer and the former board chairman of the University of Texas System.
Powell and his son, Cameron Powell, along with Stephen “Trey” Moore, also are founders of WellAware, Harrison said.