May 26, 2022

in Austin technology There is one entrepreneur in the world that everyone knows by the same name: Wyrley. “Whirley” is the Unix username for serial technology entrepreneur Will Hurley and is his brand.

Hugh Forrest, Director of Programming at SXSW said, “Keep Austin clothes really need to be customized to keep Austin Whirly alive because they embody so much of what we value about this city.” “He brings a certain eccentricity to everything he does – how could he not be with that name? In addition, the wide range of her professional and personal interests makes her almost impossible to classify.”

Whirly successfully co-founded and sold two Austin companies: Accenture to Chaotic Moon Studios in 2015 and Honest Dollar to Goldman Sachs in 2016. They didn’t raise capital for Chaotic Moon. But he raised $3 million for the Honest Dollar. In 2018, he launched his latest venture, StrangeWorks, which raised $4 million in seed funding. In addition, he founded Ecliptic Capital, a $100 million evergreen investment fund that could grow to $150 million by the end of the year. Ecliptic is also actively raising funds from the Ecliptic Global Growth Fund, which will reach $500 million and could first appear by the end of the year, Wyrley said.


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Worley’s success is similar to Austin’s.

“Indeed, it has finally achieved our vision of becoming a city of innovation, technology and culture,” said Wyrley. “When I arrived here in the early 90s, everyone was talking about Austin like it was everything, but to be realistic, we had the foundation to become a successful city, but we still had a long way to go. “

Over the past 10 years, Austin has truly grown into a major technology hub, Wyrley says.

“Progress is huge, but it’s a double-edged sword and we have to be vigilant if we don’t want to lose Austin,” he said.

Forrest said Wyrley’s keen vision for the future has brought him to the attention of many national and international leaders. At SXSW 2022, Worley hosted a session on applying quantum computing to transportation challenges. And he met with US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. Worley started trading at previous SXSW conferences. He hosted veterans’ parties and even hosted a dinner for President Barack Obama at his Democratic fundraiser home the night before President Obama’s SXSW speech.

“But above all, he will do his best to help the newcomers (and veterans) of the Austin tech scene when they need help, advice or guidance,” Forrest said. “We like to say that the Central Texas ecosystem is more supportive of each other than many other places. In my experience, Whirly has always set a good example on this front.”

To that end, Whirley founded Ecliptic Capital in 2018 with longtime business partner and friend Mike Irwin. Ecliptic Capital offers startups and early stage investments for startups. The portfolio includes StrangeWorks, Unchained Capital, Earbuds, Threat Warrior and Sourced Craft Cocktails.

Austin serial entrepreneur Will Hurley poses with his arms outstretched in front of a wall.

Image Source: Erich Peterson

Worley may identify with the sleazy Austin business owners who are just starting out and trying to establish themselves here. He strongly believes in hard work. The son of a US Army Special Forces sergeant, he grew up on military bases before settling in his family town of Temple, Texas. Worley is a self-taught technologist with no higher education.

In 1993, he officially moved to Austin, where since high school he played concerts with his band at Ray Hennigs Music. But a terrible car accident ended his band’s days.

“The city was very different back then,” Whirley said during a recent interview at StrangeWorks headquarters in East Austin, on the corner of Cesar Chavez and Linden streets. A neon eye, the StrangeWorks logo, glows above the entrance to the building.

Whirley began his career in Austin, where he worked for Apple, and eventually left in 1997 to join Austin-based Tivoli’s Internet business division. IBM purchased Tivoli and Wyrley became IBM’s chief engineer and chief inventor. But in 1999, he heard a siren song from the Internet and left.

“The whole 90s were the early days of the Internet, and I saw a lot of opportunities,” said Wyrley.

Whirly joined Hearstorm, an online job application, but it closed in March 2000 after the dot-com bubble burst. Austin was badly hurt. Several internet companies have found themselves in the dust, such as Furniture.com, DrKoop.com, Garden.com, and others. Even Intel has halted construction on its new office building at the center of Fifth Street and San Antonio Street. The body of the building was later demolished to house the Federal Court.

In 2001, Worley left Austin for six months to stalk a girl in Las Vegas and break into a casino as a hired hacker. He returned to Austin to launch Symbyte, a cybersecurity startup.

“This company was very cool,” Wyrley said. But the US government effectively shut them down in 2005, he said. He worked at another startup, Qlusters, a systems management company, and later at BMC Software before launching his next venture, Chaotic Moon Studios.

In 2009, Worley and Ervin met Ben Lam at SXSW and decided to launch Chaotic Moon the following year, focusing on software, mobile development and design.

The chaotic moon made Wyrli prosperous. He said he made more money with this company than with any of his other ventures. It was also a lot of fun. He made mind control skateboards, smart shopping carts, and Taser drones.

One of the company’s first hiatuses came when Chaotic Moon signed a contract with Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily to create the first newspaper app for the iPad. Chaotic Moon continued to work with the industry’s biggest brands including Disney, General Motors, Samsung, Sesame Street, United Nations and Discovery Channel. In 2015, Accenture acquired Chaotic Moon for an undisclosed price.

By that time, Wyrley had begun his next venture. In 2015, he launched Honest Dollar with Henry Yoshida to focus on providing retirement accounts to workers and small businesses at an affordable cost.

Sir Mix-a-Lot played at the Honest Dollar SXSW launch party. Wyrley inspired him to invest in the company. But Sir Mix-a-Lot refused him. The following year, Goldman purchased the Sachs Honest Dollar for an undisclosed price. He announced the sale at SXSW. Whirley joined Goldman Sachs to lead the company for 18 months.

In 2018 Worley launched StrangeWorks at SXSW focusing on quantum computing. It is designed for applications in the aerospace, energy, financial and pharmaceutical industries.

Austin serial entrepreneur Will Hurley sits on a bench facing a wall at StrangeWorks.

Will Hurley at the StrangeWorks office. Image Source: Erich Peterson

“Whirley has a better understanding of the long term. His vision is similar to Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote: “I skate where the puck is, not where it’s been,” Forrest told SXSW. “This prediction explains the work done on quantum computers in recent years.”

Austin Technology Council CEO Amber Ganst said Whirly has worked at large companies and knows how to approach startups with the structure and system that has helped them succeed.

“True legacy can be created through entrepreneurship, and that is why this is an incredible journey,” said Ganst. According to her, Whirly did it and continues to help others.

Whirly is one of the rare breed of serial entrepreneurs in Austin who has many successful exits, said David Perez, founder of Lumen Technologies, who has worked with him on two startups.

“He has big ideas and he brings them to life,” Perez said. “He surrounds himself with the right team for it.”

Whirley said that no matter how many startups an entrepreneur can launch, startups are still difficult.

“If a founder tells you everything is great, he is lying to you, to himself, or to anyone else,” he said.

Wyrley believes people need to stop romanticizing entrepreneurship.

“Startups rarely end up where they started, and they are always in one of two phases…fight or fail,” he said. “So be grateful for the fight, because that’s part of the game.”

According to his friend Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, founder of 3COM, and former professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, in addition to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Wyrley is also a good musician.

“Whirley often mentioned that he was touring with a band that played guitar a long time ago,” Metcalfe said. “I once bluffed him and demanded that he play for us. He agreed, but only if I sing with him.”

He staged a 100-person demonstration at a WeWork party on Congress Avenue.

Metcalfe said: “We played our favorite song, ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’.” “I can’t sing, but Wyrley, it turns out, can.”

Author’s note: Whirley maintains Silicon Hills News, a tech news site I founded in 2011.

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