ALSTON’S NEW GIG: Ever heard of CultureMap? It’s the tiny Houston-based digital media company where publishing heavyweight Alyce Alston has landed as chairman and chief executive officer.

Alston, who is best known for launching O magazine and has senior posts at Reader’s Digest, De Beers Diamond Jewelers and W magazine, is charged with expanding the online city lifestyle magazine nationwide. At her disposal is a $5 million war chest supplied by energy magnate John Thrash and other investors, including restaurateur Lonnie Schiller and venture capitalist Tod Eason.

This story first appeared in the July 30, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I’m doing it because I’ve decided to live in Texas, and I love the entrepreneurialism of it,” said Alston, who relocated to Austin nearly three years ago to run Commemorative Brands, a national distributor of class rings and other goods. “I believe in the model, the owners and their commitment, and I can leverage my years of experience in something that is exciting for me and the team.” launched in Houston in November 2009, posting opinionated takes on area fashion, restaurants, arts, society, pop culture and soft news. An Austin edition opened a year ago, and Dallas is slated to follow this fall. Each has a local editorial team and a unique voice reflective of its respective city.

“We are enthusiastically committed to upping the stakes with Alyce at the helm,” said Thrash. “We are fully prepared to support [her] in her vision to take CultureMap to levels heretofore beyond our own imaginings.”

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