Venture Capitalists Flock to LA for the Deals—and the Beach

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Sunset in LA
Photo by Cedric Letsch on Unsplash

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz grabbed headlines this month by firmly planting its flag in Los Angeles. The VC—also known as a16z—opened an office in Santa Monica and helped organize L.A. Tech Week, a seven-day series of events that also served as the firm’s coming out party here.

But a16z is not the only VC firm expanding its presence in L.A., even if it’s been more public about it. Sony Ventures, the investment arm of the Japanese entertainment giant, held an informal office opening in Culver City this month to kick off L.A. Tech Week. Other firms and funds, such as Bling Capital, Anthemis and Expa, have quietly added employees based in the area or seen team members move here for personal reasons.


The result is more venture capitalists on the ground in Los Angeles, a growing tech hub now home to a handful of big name startups and tech giants, from SpaceX to Snap. The region’s tech and startup scene is one reason VCs have flocked here, experts in the industry told dot.LA. The influx can also be attributed to the rise of remote work and Silicon Valley’s weakening grip on the tech sector—a decentralization that has benefited places like Miami and Austin, too.

“Many funds—I’m finding more and more each day—have someone who just moved here full time,” said Kristin Kent, a principal at Expa, the startup studio and venture fund launched by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp.

Kristin Kent, principal at Expa.

Kristin Kent, principal at Expa.

Photo courtesy of Kristin Kent

Kent moved to L.A. from San Francisco about a year ago. She expects some colleagues to join soon. One of the firm’s partners, for example, just had an offer on a house accepted and plans to move to the region by year’s end. Expa, which was founded in the Bay Area and raised a $200 million fund in April, is looking at L.A. more often when making investments, Kent said.

“L.A. is exciting because it has, historically, felt more like media and entertainment only, but it’s becoming way more than that now, which is exciting for a lot of venture funds,” Kent said. “We are seeing tons of other companies start to come from L.A. We're starting to see some good talent develop in the area.”

Andreessen Horowitz, a Silicon Valley power broker, announced in July that it would move its headquarters “to the cloud” and become a mostly virtual firm. As a result, the company opened offices in New York, Miami and at 1305 2nd Street in downtown Santa Monica. Though the firm declined to comment for this story, general partner Andrew Chen recently explained on his blog why he personally moved to L.A.—specifically Venice. “It’s walkable, hip, artsy and has pockets of amazing beauty,” he wrote of the beachside neighborhood.

“Since arriving in L.A., I’ve been working with the startup/VC community to help boost the already vibrant tech ecosystem here. We’re committed to have a major presence here,” Chen wrote, noting the firm already has “several dozen employees” in the area. He said he’s now overseeing a16z’s new gaming fund and has maintained “several rotating dinner series for games industry founders and executives.”

One of the biggest names in gaming, Sony, has also dedicated more resources to L.A. Sony Ventures, which manages the emerging tech-focused Sony Innovation Fund, opened an office in April on the company’s Culver City studio lot. After traveling back and forth from the Bay Area to L.A. since 2016, Sony Ventures grew its team here in 2021 and now has three people, said Joseph Tou, the U.S. managing director for Sony Ventures. That headcount is likely to grow as Sony Ventures seeks to further immerse itself in L.A.’s tech scene, particularly in the entertainment space where the region—and Sony—are leaders.

“I just have a firm belief that when it comes to investing, you have to be part of the fabric of those things,” Tou said. “I've been flying to L.A. for 10 years, but I think living here and being in the Southern California ecosystem, it's way different than if you're coming and visiting. So therefore, an office.”

VCs, in some ways, are following the wave of tech talent that moved to Southern California during the pandemic. That included many founders and executives who’ve flown south from the Bay Area, said Kyle Lui, a general partner at Bling Capital who recently moved here himself. L.A. is seen as a sensible place to relocate, not only for quality of life and L.A.’s growing tech scene, but as a way to remain close to the industry’s power center in Silicon Valley if needed.

“There are a lot of second- and third-time founders who started their first company in the Bay because you had to, and now you don't,” Lui said. “They've decided they want to live where they want to live, and so L.A. has been a great destination.”

Vinay Singh, managing director at Anthemis Group, moved to Santa Monica just three weeks ago from New York. His firm, founded in London, has increasingly focused on deals in Southern California, he said. Moving to L.A. gives his firm a presence in L.A. without opening a physical office—while allowing him and his family to live by the beach.

Singh sees similarities between the early days of New York’s tech ecosystem and L.A., from big name startups like Snap going public to an influx of VCs to funds launching in the area.

Vinay Singh, Managing Director at Anthemis Group

Vinay Singh, Managing Director at Anthemis Group

Photo courtesy of Vinay Singh

“That is kind of what I saw starting to happen seven, eight years ago in New York, and it's repeating itself here,” Singh said. “That's exciting because I think it's kind of a harbinger of what is possible in L.A.”

😊🚘 Rivian's $5 Billion Lifeline

🔦 Spotlight

Volkswagen announced on Tuesday a significant investment of up to $5 billion in Rivian, a struggling electric truck manufacturer known for its vehicles' distinctive smiley-face design reminiscent of Volkswagen's iconic Beetle. This partnership marks a unique collaboration between the world's second-largest automaker and a startup grappling with profitability challenges akin to those faced by Tesla. Volkswagen's infusion of $1 billion initially, potentially rising to $5 billion pending regulatory approval, underscores its strategic pivot towards enhancing its electric vehicle (EV) software capabilities, an area where analysts believe the company has lagged.

For Rivian, which has received acclaim for its electric trucks and SUVs but struggles with production ramp-up and financial losses, the investment offers crucial financial backing. The company plans to utilize Volkswagen's expertise in manufacturing, leveraging the German automaker's annual production of nearly 10 million vehicles. This alliance aims to bolster Rivian's efforts to launch new models like the R2 midsize SUV and complete its Georgia factory, paused earlier this year to conserve funds. Rivian's stock surged upwards of 40% following the announcement, reflecting investor optimism in the company's future prospects.

Despite their differing corporate cultures—Volkswagen's traditional, structured approach contrasted with Rivian's agile tech startup ethos—the CEOs of both companies expressed mutual admiration and shared goals during the partnership announcement. The collaboration is expected to yield EV software solutions benefiting Volkswagen's various brands, potentially including Audi and Porsche, while allowing Rivian to maintain its brand identity and separate vehicle marketing strategies. This strategic partnership between Volkswagen and Rivian not only promises to revolutionize the electric vehicle market but also highlights the potential for collaboration between established automakers and innovative startups in Southern California, where Rivian is based. Here’s to hoping these smiling cars will balance out some of the inevitable LA road rage.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • HeyGen, a startup that allows users to generate videos with AI-created avatars that can lip-sync to provided audio, making it easier for businesses to create engaging video content, raised a $60M Funding Round at a $500M post-money valuation. The deal was led by Benchmark, with Conviction, Thrive Capital, and Bond Capital also stepping up. - learn more
  • Pomerium, a startup that provides a secure access platform that dynamically verifies user identities to ensure authorized access to applications and services, raised a $13.8M Series A round led by Benchmark and including previous investors Bain Capital, Haystack, and SNR. - learn more
  • Etched, a maker of transformer-specialized AI chips, raised a $120M Funding Round. - learn more
  • Rocketlane, a customer onboarding platform, raised a $24M Series B co-led by 8VC, Matrix Partners India, and Nexus Venture Partners. - learn more
  • Sift, a developer of unified observability solutions for hardware sensor data, raised a $17.5M Series A led by GV. - learn more
  • LOST iN, a travel media brand, raised a $4M Seed Round led by MaC Venture Capital. - learn more

LA Venture Funds


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From Pitch Meetings to Power Lunches: LA’s Exclusive Membership Clubs 🗝️

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Summer's here, so it's time to zhuzh up your work environment. Discovering the best membership and social clubs in Los Angeles for meetings can boost networking and collaboration, offering exclusive venues and premium amenities tailored for professionals and creatives to thrive amidst the city's vibrant backdrop. These clubs provide a sophisticated setting for productive gatherings and meaningful connections in LA. Here are some top private member clubs perfect for meetings and productive work sessions.

The Jonathan Club

Club Details: The Jonathan Club, one of Los Angeles' original membership clubs, has been a cornerstone of the city's elite social scene since its founding in the mid-1890s. Its legacy is intertwined with the growth and development of LA itself, most notably through a pivotal meeting held at the club that sparked the idea for a southern campus of the University of California—what would eventually become UCLA. Today, the Jonathan Club continues to offer its members an unparalleled experience of exclusivity and refinement. With locations in both DLTA and Santa Monica, members enjoy access to premium amenities and spaces and a calendar with hundreds of social events and workshops throughout the year, providing ample opportunities for networking, personal growth, and leisure activities.

Membership Details: Initiation fee is around $50,000, and admission typically requires that you be invited or know someone who is already a member.

Spring Place

Image Source: Spring Place

Neighborhood: Beverly Hills

Club Details: A mix between co-working space and social club, this Beverly Hills hotspot is a more exclusive version of similar clubs. Spring Place Beverly Hills spans three floors and offers a stunning art collection. The interior is filled with tons of natural light and has an intentional design that fuels members to harness some of their best work. Members also have access to luxurious dining and nightlife pop-ups that happen at Spring Place.

Membership Details: There is a non-refundable initiation fee of $500 and then local membership for people under 30 starts at $300 per month, while monthly membership for locals over 30 is $600.

Griffin Club

Image Source: Griffin Club

Neighborhood: Cheviot Hills

Club Details: Located in Cheviot Hills, Griffin Club LA is a sporty club with ample shared workspace. Following a $20M renovation in 2020, the club now boasts seven LED-lit tennis courts, four LED-lit pickleball courts, two recreational lap pools, a 25-meter family pool for kids, an adults-only resort pool, and childcare services. It's the ideal destination for a clientele looking to mix work with competitive sport.

Membership Details: Membership is by invitation only and is subject to approval. Membership prices at the club vary. A family membership entails a $12,000 initial fee plus a $450 monthly fee, while a junior membership only entails a $2,000 initiation fee and a $205 monthly fee.

Soho House West Hollywood

Image Source: Soho House West Hollywood

Neighborhood: West Hollywood

Club Details: Soho House West Hollywood provides a stylish and exclusive work and meeting destination, featuring chic meeting rooms and workspaces with panoramic views of Los Angeles. Combining luxury amenities with a creative atmosphere, it offers an ideal setting for networking, collaboration, productive sessions, and an amazing Sunday brunch!

Membership Details: Two current member referrals are needed, plus an online application, and a recent photo to confirm your identity. Quarterly memberships start at $675.25, but if you’re under 27, you can pay $337.75 quarterly. However, if you want access to every house, membership costs $5,250.00 annually, or $2,650.00 if you’re under 27.

Little Beach House Malibu

Image Source: Little Beach House Malibu

Neighborhood: Malibu

Club Details: The Little Beach House Malibu is a small, local club for the creative community of Malibu and the surrounding coastal areas. The club is known for its magnificent dining room, bar, sitting room and terrace. It is the perfect place for a truly memorable work meal.

Membership Details: Malibu Beach House is not included in the Soho House membership. If you are an existing member, you can apply for “Malibu Plus” for an additional $2,190 a year, or $1,095 if you’re under 27.

San Vicente Bungalows

Image Source: San Vicente Bungalows

Neighborhood: West Hollywood

Club Details: San Vicente Bungalows is an exclusive, members-only social club located in West Hollywood, California, offering a luxurious and private environment for its high-profile clientele. The club is renowned for its strict privacy policies, elegant decor, and high-end amenities, catering to celebrities (and royals) and industry elites seeking a discreet space to unwind and socialize.

Membership Details: You must be nominated by a current club member to apply. Applications are evaluated monthly and annual dues start at $4,200 plus a $1,800 initiation fee.

The Aster

Image Source: The Aster

Neighborhood: Hollywood

Club Details: The Aster, located at the iconic intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, redefines the modern members' club with its emphasis on warmth and hospitality, blending public hotel amenities with private club exclusivity. Featuring bright, airy spaces and top-notch facilities such as an outdoor pool, recording studio, and rooftop bar, it offers a fluid environment for work, relaxation, and socializing.

Membership Details: Memberships start at $3,600 per year and be acquired by filling out an application. In addition to uploading a photo, hopeful members also have to write a small bio while highlighting their interests, skills, profession, and hobbies.

NeueHouse

Image Source: NeueHouse

Neighborhood: Venice/Hollywood/DTLA

Club Details: NeueHouse in LA is a chic private workspace and cultural hub designed for creative professionals, offering sophisticated workspaces, a dynamic calendar of cultural programming, and luxurious amenities. Situated in three bustling neighborhoods across LA, it provides a collaborative environment where members can work, network, and unwind in style.

Membership Details: You have to apply for the Salon membership, which includes questions like “dream dinner guests (dead or alive?)." Annual dues for Salon memberships are $3,000 plus a $200 joining fee. You can also inquire about the Gallery membership for flexible workspaces and offices for individuals or teams, starting at $595 per month, with various options depending on your needs.

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