year in review

Movers and shakers: Top executive moves in Houston energy transition of 2023

Promotions, corporate ladder climbing, and other top mover and shaker stories on EnergyCapital this year. Photos courtesy

Editor's note: As the year comes to a close, EnergyCapital is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston energy transition. From new board seats to internal promotions, this year marked a big one for some of Houston's energy leaders. Here were the top five most-read articles covering the mover and shaker news of 2023 — be sure to click through to read the full story.

Global consulting firm names new Houston energy practice leader​

Alvarez & Marsal announced the appointment of Jay Johnson as senior adviser to its energy practice. Photo via alvarezandmarsal.com

A top global professional services firm named a Houston-based energy leader amid industry evolution and regulatory changes.

Alvarez & Marsal, or A&M, announced the appointment of Jay Johnson as senior adviser to its energy practice.

“I enjoy bringing together teams of people to solve the complex challenges facing companies today,” Johnson says in a news release. “I’m looking forward to working with A&M’s energy team to build leadership and capabilities to address industry challenges.”

Click here to read the article from November.

Houston carbon storage solutions company names new energy transition leader at pivotal time of growth

Graham Payne, the new director of energy transition at Caliche Development Partners II, is bullish on Houston. Photo courtesy

Graham Payne sees a bright future for the multibillion-dollar energy transition economy in Houston.

“It’s been said that Houston is poised, like no other city, to lead the energy transition. And I’d have to agree, because we have all the requisite natural resources, industry, and talent,” says Payne, the new director of energy transition at Houston-based carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) company Caliche Development Partners II.

Caliche and other Houston-based energy transition companies secured $6.1 billion in private funding last year, up 62 percent from 2022, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

Click here to read the article from October.

Investment banking firm launches cleantech group, names Houston-based co-leader

Moelis hired Arash Nazhad as Houston-based managing director and co-head of its newly formed clean energy technology group. Photo via rice.edu

A Houston investment banker has been tapped as co-leader of a new team at investment bank Moelis & Co. that will mine the energy sector for cleantech deals.

Publicly traded Moelis said September 7 that it hired Arash Nazhad as Houston-based managing director and co-head of its newly formed clean energy technology group. Nazhad joins Moelis from financial services giant Citigroup, where he was managing director of its clean energy investment team. He worked at Citigroup for nine years.

During his tenure at Citigroup and, before that, Norwegian energy company Equinor (which operates a Houston office), Nazhad helped carry out more than $50 billion in M&A advisory activities and helped raise over $40 billion in capital for clients. He’s been involved in the rollout of more than 20 IPOs.

Click here to read the article from September.

Houston energy transition leader joins California company's board with investment

Bobby Tudor has joined the board of an energy tech company. Photo via Houston.org

A Houston business leader has taken a seat at the table of a San Francisco-based tech company.

Puloli, an IoT solutions-as-a-service company has announced an investment from, Artemis Energy Partners, a Houston group founded by Bobby Tudor. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

With the transaction, Tudor joins Puloli's board of directors, bringing expertise from a storied career in energy transition from his roles at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. and the Greater Houston Partnership.

"Bobby brings a tremendous amount of credibility and energy industry insight to Puloli and complements what Jodi Jahic and Aligned Partners bring to Puloli," Kethees Ketheesan, CEO of Puloli, says in a news release. "Bobby's endorsement of Puloli solution will be a big boost in accelerating our growth."

Click here to read the article from July.

Energy exec to take the reins of the Greater Houston Partnership

Steve Kean will transition from leading Kinder Morgan to assuming the role of president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership later this year. Photo courtesy of the GHP

A longtime energy executive has been named the next president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. He'll take on the new role this fall.

The GHP named Steve Kean, who currently serves as the CEO of Kinder Morgan Inc., to the position. He's expected to transition from CEO to board of directors member at Kinder Morgan on August 1. Kean will then assume his new position at GHP no later than Dec. 1.

Dr. Marc L. Boom, GHP board chair and president and CEO of Houston Methodist, made the announcement at a press conference June 21.

“Steve brings incredible business acumen and leadership skills to the organization," Boom says in a statement. "Coupled with an extraordinary passion for Houston, he will build on the Partnership’s momentum to continue to advance greater Houston as a region of extraordinary growth and opportunity.”

Click here to read the article from June.

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A View From HETI

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want. Photo courtesy of Boxes

With the help of a new conversational artificial intelligence platform, a Houston startup is ready to let brands get up close and personal with consumers while minimizing waste.

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want.

The Boxes device, about the size of a 40-inch television screen, dispenses products to consumers in a modern and sustainable spin on the old-fashioned large vending machine.

CEO Fernando Machin Gojdycz learned that business from his entrepreneur father, Carlos Daniel Machin, while growing up in Uruguay.

“That’s where my passion comes from — him,” Gojdycz says of his father. In 2016, Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay with some engineer friends

Funded by a $2,000 grant from the University of Uruguay, the company's mission was “to democratize and economize affordable and sustainable shopping,” in part by eliminating wasteful single-use plastic packaging.

“I worked for one year from my bedroom,” he tells InnovationMap.

Fernando Machin Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay before relocating the company to Greentown Houston. Photo courtesy of Boxes

The device, attached to a wall, offers free samples, or purchased products, in areas of high foot traffic, with a touch-screen interface. Powered by watsonx Assistant, the device asks survey questions of the customer, who can answer or not, on their mobile devices, via a QR code.

In return for completing a survey, customers can get a digital coupon, potentially generating future sales. The software and AI tech tracks sales and consumer preferences, giving valuable real-time market insight.

“This is very powerful,” he says.

Boxes partnered in Uruguay with major consumer brands like Kimberly-Clark, SC Johnson and Unilever, and during COVID, pivoted and offered PPE products. Then, with plans of an expansion into the United States, Boxes in 2021 landed its first U.S. backer, with $120,000 in funding from startup accelerator Techstars.

This led to a partnership with the Minnesota Twins, where Boxes devices at Target Field dispensed brand merchandise like keychains and bottles of field dirt.

Gojdycz says while a company in the Northeast is developing a product similar in size, Boxes is not “targeting traditional spaces.” Its software and integration with AI allows Boxes to seamlessly change the device screen and interface, remotely, as well.

Boxes aims to provide the devices in smaller spaces, like restrooms, where they have a device at the company's headquarters at climate tech incubator Greentown Labs. Boxes also recently added a device at Hewlett Packard Enterprise headquarters in Spring, as part of HPE’s diversity startup program.

Boxes hopes to launch another sustainable innovation later this year, in universities and supermarkets. The company is also developing a device that would offer refillable detergent and personal cleaning products like shampoo and conditioner with a reusable container.

Since plastic packaging accounts for 40 percent of retail price, consumers would pay far less, making a huge difference, particularly for lower-income families, he says.

“We are working to make things happen, because we have tried to pitch this idea,” he says.

Some supermarket retailers worry they may lose money or market share, and that shoppers may forget to bring the refill bottles with them to the store, for example.

“It’s about..the U.S. customer,” he says, “….but we think that sooner or later, it will come.”

Boxes has gotten funding from the accelerator startup branch of Houston-based software company Softeq, as well as Mission Driven Finance, Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, and Right Side Capital, among others.

“Our primary challenges are scaling effectively with a small, yet compact team and maintaining control over our financial runway,” Gojdycz says.

The company has seven employees, including two on its management team.

Gojdycz says they are actively hiring, particularly in software and hardware engineering, but also in business development.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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