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Business Digest: Austin software startup raises funding for growth


TECHNOLOGY

Austin software startup raises funding for growth

Austin educational software maker Querium Corp. has raised $800,000 to invest in product development, sales and marketing.

The company received the funding from ICG Ventures and private investors. Querium has raised a total of $1.5 million.

Querium’s software helps high school and college students master math and science skills by acting as a tutor and grading assistant.

The company, founded in 2013, has 10 employees.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

EZCorp shares slip after earnings report

Austin-based EZCorp Inc. saw its share price dip Tuesday after the payday lending and pawnshop chain reported quarterly revenue and net income numbers that were below the same quarter a year ago and at the low end of analysts’ projections.

For its fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 31, the ­company reported revenue of $252.6 million. Analysts had predicted revenue of $251 million to $283 million. The company reported net income of $14.2 million, or 26 cents per share. Analysts had estimated earnings per share of 28 cents to 43 cents, or an average of 35 cents per share.

EZCorp’s shares closed Friday down 63 cents, or 5.14 percent, at $11.62. It remained down in after-hours trading.

Last year, EZCorp underwent a management shakeup and significant policy changes. The company ousted its former CEO and President Paul Rothamel and reshaped its board. Founded in 1974, ­EZCorp has grown into one of the nation’s largest pawnshop operators and one of Austin’s largest publicly traded companies, with 1,400 locations and branches.

INTERNET

Google Fiber adding more U.S. cities

Google said Tuesday it will bring its ultra-fast Google Fiber in four new U.S. metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham. Google Fiber is already available in Austin, Kansas City and Provo, Utah.

Google in December began its first wave of Google Fiber signups for Austin customers in some South and Southeast Austin neighborhoods. Deadlines are quickly approaching for those neighborhoods, or “Fiberhoods,” to sign up for service.

For example, the Bluebonnet Fiberhood, which includes the Barton Hills area, will close signups this Thursday for new Google Fiber customers. The last deadline for this first round of signups is July 16 for Onion Creek residents.

ECONOMY

Consumer confidence at highest mark since 2007

WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers welcomed the new year with a surge in confidence.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index climbed this month to 102.9, highest level since August 2007 — four months before the start of the Great Recession. January’s figure was up from a revised 93.1 in December.

“Consumers started the year in a buoyant mood,” Andrew Hunter, an analyst at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.

Americans haven’t felt this good about current economic conditions since January 2008. And they are the most optimistic they’ve been since February 2011 about business conditions over the next six months.

The Conference Board also found that 20.5 percent of consumers surveyed described jobs as “plentiful” — the biggest share in nearly seven years. The figure had dropped as low as 3.1 percent in November and December 2009.

Consumer confidence has been rising as the economy improves. Employers added nearly 3 million jobs last year, most since 1999. The unemployment rate last month tumbled to a 6-year low of 5.6 percent.


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