Hello, Los Angeles: dot.LA Launches to Shine a Light on L.A. Startups and Tech
Four years ago, I moved back to Los Angeles, my hometown. I'd spent the previous 15 years running a startup in Seattle (Zillow) and the five years before that at my prior startup in San Francisco (Hotwire). After almost 20 years away, it was time to come home.
Both San Francisco and Seattle have well-deserved, global reputations for innovation. Their tech scenes are robust, and I was proud to have played an active role in each of them as a founder, angel investor, mentor to other startups, and tech exec. But L.A.?
When I came back to L.A. in 2016, I was blown away by all the innovation that was happening here. We had great companies here: Snap, Tinder, Bird, Cloud Kitchens, and many more. But the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit was much more widespread than I suspected. After I moved back, I reconnected with many old friends and started to plug into the tech and startup scene. I advised entrepreneurs, met with VCs and invested in some companies, which gave me incredible insight to the diversity of companies being started here, and the spirit of the people innovating here.
I found that L.A. has all the ingredients necessary for a vibrant tech and startup ecosystem: angel investors, early- and late-stage VCs, private equity, unicorns, big exits, public companies, and great universities. In short, there was much more going on in L.A. tech than I expected.
The tech and startup scene in L.A. is geographically spread out (from Venice and Santa Monica to the west, to downtown L.A. and Silver Lake to the east; from the north San Fernando Valley to El Segundo to the South), and is spread across so many industries (aerospace, gaming, ecommerce, AdTech, FoodTech, media, and more). Because of its breadth and diversity, no one seemed to have a good handle on the size and scope of the overall L.A. tech scene. There was no town crier to unify the community and to shine a light on it. In short, the missing ingredient was journalism.
That's where dot.LA comes in. We are a news and events company with a mission of shining a light on the innovation in the L.A. startup and tech community.
We're inspired by Geekwire in Seattle and TechCrunch in the Bay Area -- both fantastic sources of journalism and essential parts of their communities. We're also inspired by the great outlets that cover the entertainment industry. In fact, our editor-in-chief comes to dot.LA from Variety.
I can't think of a better time to launch dot.LA. The 2020s are going to be an explosive decade for our city and its business community. I predict that in 2030, we'll look back and say the 20s were to L.A. as the '00s were to San Francisco: a decade that changed everything, and redefined how people across the world look at our city. We are already home to companies operating at the fascinating intersections of tech, fashion, entertainment, pop culture and media. That's distinctly L.A., and it's only going to grow. One of the first tasks of the editorial team at dot.LA was to conduct a census of the size and scope of the tech scene here, and we were impressed by what we found. We identified over hundreds of tech companies and startups covering dozens of subsectors of tech, with hundreds of thousands of employees across Los Angeles. As I said, there's more here than most people realize!
dot.LA will be here to chronicle it all. Our newsroom is already staffed with 7 incredible reporters from places like The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and NPR. With more reporters dedicated to covering Los Angeles startups and entrepreneurship than any other news outlet, dot.LA's reporting team will tell the stories of great L.A. startups and tech companies.
I hope dot.LA can play another important role as we enter this new decade. At this moment, L.A. has a distinct advantage. We can go into this decade with our eyes wide open, and we can make intentional decisions about our values. We can create a shared culture that will see us through and beyond that explosive growth. We can learn from the other start-ups hubs that came before us, and ensure we don't make the same mistakes. We can -- and should -- prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion at the beginning of our growth, when it can become ingrained into how we run our businesses.
L.A. is hungry for dot.LA. When my co-founder and dot.LA CEO Sam Adams started to fundraise for the project, the interest was immediate. Around 100 people and companies in the L.A. tech scene have invested in our $4 million seed round. We have funding from traditional VCs, but also from a diverse base of companies and individuals. The L.A. Dodgers and Snap, Inc., are investors, as are entrepreneurs and executives from dozens of leading L.A. tech companies. You can see a full list here.
We are at the beginning of an incredible story. I'm happy that dot.LA will be here to cover it.
- Dot.LA Seeks Audience for Tinseltown's Startup Boom on Cheddar ›
- New tech-focused journalism site, dot.LA, takes off | Greater LA ... ›
- Hello, Los Angeles: dot.LA Launches to Shine a Light on L.A. ... ›
- Spencer Rascoff - dot.LA ›
- L.A.'s booming tech scene gets its own publication to cover it, with all ... ›
- Former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff launches dot.LA, a news site for ... ›
- Join Us For Our Next Virtual Pitch Showcase on Healthcare - dot.LA ›
- Watch Three Los Angeles Health Startups Pitch Investors - dot.LA ›
- Catch Up With This Week's Startup News in Our Weekly Video Recap - dot.LA ›
- Los Angeles' Tech and Startup Scene is Growing. - dot.LA ›
Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.
Shawn Gunn has been waiting for gaming to get to this moment for 20 years.
He ran e-tournaments from his college dorm in the 1990s, long before esports exploded. Since then, Gunn has worked on Wall Street as a trader, at Nokia as the head of monetization and at HERE Technologies, before founding his first company, GUNN Inc, in 2008.
All the while, he watched as video games became lucrative for top competitors. And he decided to find a way to make them profitable for average gamers like himself.
Last year, Gunn founded PLLAY Labs Inc. with Christine Krzyzanowski. The video game wagering app lets users play video games like Fortnite and Call of Duty against each other for money. Since its launch in June, PLLAY has added 10,000 users, bringing its total user base to 60,000.
Skill-Based Betting<p>PLLAY uses an artificial intelligence-driven platform to monitor video game matches, detect cheating and guarantee payment to winners. It is not considered gambling under federal law because players make bets on their own performance in a skill-based game.</p><p>Gunn said there is already a lot of peer-to-peer betting happening online, with or without the app. The wagering is often informal and done through game chats, with no guarantee the other player will send money via CashApp or PayPal. PLLAY ensures that each player is paid appropriately from pooled money that PLLAY secures in escrow.</p><p>PLLAY's background check process also ensures wagering laws in users' states are honored and confirms users are 18 or older.<br></p><p>Beal — a PLLAY investor, two-time NBA All-Star and shooting guard for the Washington Wizards — is a gamer off the court and away from his day job, as is Easterling.</p><p>"They're both gamers, in their own regard, and they fit our profile. So they're not professional gamers, obviously, they have other really cool day jobs," said Gunn. "But they know how big the gaming market is and where it's going."</p><p>Gunn said he sought out high net-worth investors that were passionate about gaming.</p><p>"I'm not just investing in a product; I'm investing in people. I believe in supporting minority- and women-owned businesses," said Beal in a statement, adding that Gunn and Krzyzanowski "have built more than a gaming platform, they've built a diverse and creative culture at PLLAY that fuels their vision."<br></p>
Every year has defining moments, but no one could have predicted the world changing and paradigm shifting developments that have taken place over the course of the past year. They include combatting COVID-19, working from home, waves of social unrest, emerging technologies and more.
Join us Wednesday, December 16th at 11:00 a.m. PT for the closing dot.LA Strategy Session of the year as we reflect on L.A.'s emerging tech trends, challenges and predictions for 2021.
Upfront Managing Partner Mark Suster and dot.LA Senior Finance Reporter Ben Bergman will kick off the event with a one on one conversation. More speakers to be announced.
Mark Suster, Managing Partner at Upfront
Mark Suster, Managing Partner at Upfront<p><br>Mark Suster has been a managing partner at Upfront since 2007, where has led notable investments in companies including Bird, Invoca, Density, Nanit, and Maker Studios (acquired by Disney). He previously was the founder & CEO of two successful enterprise software companies, the most recent of which was sold to Salesforce.com, where Mark became VP of products. Prior to being a founder, Mark was a software developer at Accenture while living and worked in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Mark is a graduate of UCSD and has an MBA from the University of Chicago.</p>
Ben Bergman, dot.LA Senior Reporter
Ben Bergman, dot.LA Senior Reporter<p>Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior reporter/host at KPCC, a producer at Gimlet Media and NPR and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times. Bergman was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. He enjoys skiing, playing poker and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.</p>
- Investing in Uncertain Times: How VCs and COVID-19 - dot.LA ›
- Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures on VC's Primary Job - dot.LA ›
- Why NYC and SF Tech Workers are Moving to LA - dot.LA ›
- Los Angeles' Tech and Startup Scene is Growing. - dot.LA ›
Virgin Orbit announced plans for its second attempt to shoot its LauncherOne rocket into orbit on Dec. 19 carrying with it small NASA research satellites. The first attempt failed in May after a propellant line ruptured after the first-stage ignition.
The Richard Branson-founded company said it's run a list of tests and upgraded various systems in advance of next month's launch.