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.”

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.

🧬🔬AI-Driven Drug Discovery

🔦 Spotlight

Terray Therapeutics is at the forefront of AI-assisted drug discovery and development, operating a cutting-edge laboratory in Monrovia, California. The facility, roughly two-thirds the size of a football field, functions as a data powerhouse, generating over 50 terabytes of raw data daily, which is an amount of information equivalent to 12,000 high definition movies, through its miniaturized automation processes.

Terray Therapeutics exemplifies a new wave of innovative companies harnessing artificial intelligence to revolutionize drug discovery and development. The key to their approach lies in generating vast amounts of high-quality experimental data to train their AI systems. This data-driven strategy enables rapid experimentation and pattern recognition, allowing the AI to make informed predictions about potential treatments. Terray's generative AI can digitally design drug molecules, which are then synthesized and tested in their high-speed automated laboratory. The platform measures the interaction between these molecules and target proteins, with both successful and unsuccessful results feeding back into the AI system.

This iterative process creates a powerful feedback loop, continuously refining the AI's predictive capabilities and accelerating the drug discovery process. Terray's tNova platform integrates chemical experimentation and computation at an unprecedented scale, producing massive amounts of precise, purpose-built data that becomes increasingly valuable with each cycle of design and experimentation. This unique blend of experimentation and computation allows Terray to efficiently explore a vast molecular space, potentially solving complex problems in drug discovery faster and more effectively than traditional methods.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • Fuze Technology, a provider of rentable portable phone chargers, has raised a $11.5M Series A led by Beverly Pacific and joined by Palm Tree Crew, Bain Capital Ventures Scout Fund, Dream Ventures, Live Nation, ASM Global, SCIENCE Ventures, Haslem Sports Group, and Simon Ventures. - learn more
  • Stanly, a platform that offers fan-to-fan and artist-to-fan communication and commerce, raised an $8M Funding Round led by C Capital and joined by AppWorks, Goodwater, and Palm Drive Capital. - learn more
  • GrayMatter, an industrial robotics company, raised a $45M Series B led by Wellington Management and joined by NGP Capital, Euclidean Capital, Advance Venture Partners, SQN Venture Partners, 3M Ventures, B Capital, Bow Capital, Calibrate Ventures, OCA Ventures, and Swift Ventures. - learn more

LA Venture Funds

LA Exits

  • Webtoon Entertainment, an online cartoon company based in LA carved out of South Korea's Naver, set IPO terms to 15m shares at $18-$21. It would have a $2.6b fully diluted market value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (WBTN). - learn more
  • EV maker Fisker has finally filed for bankruptcy. - learn more
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Sony Pictures Experiences Division Formed After Alamo Drafthouse Acquisition

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.

Sony Pictures Experiences Division Formed After Alamo Drafthouse Acquisition

🔦 Spotlight

Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in a groundbreaking deal that marks the first time in over 75 years a major Hollywood studio will own a movie theater chain. This acquisition signals a potential shift towards vertical integration in the film industry, with Sony gaining more control over the distribution and exhibition of its films.

The deal allows Sony to expand its presence in experiential entertainment, aligning with its vision of engaging audiences outside the home through unique offerings. Alamo Drafthouse's innovative dine-in movie experience, devoted fanbase, and curated programming like Fantastic Fest make it an appealing acquisition target. Sony stressed that Alamo will continue operating its 35 locations under CEO Michael Kustermann, who will head the new Sony Pictures Experiences division.

While the move provides financial backing for Alamo after its bankruptcy struggles, questions remain about whether the chain can maintain its independent spirit and personality under Sony's ownership. Alamo is renowned for creative programming like themed events, interactive screenings, and a strict no-talking policy that has cultivated a passionate community of moviegoers. Balancing this distinct identity with Sony's corporate interests will be a key challenge moving forward.

From a technological standpoint, this move opens up possibilities for Sony to enhance the moviegoing experience at Alamo Drafthouse locations through integration of advanced audiovisual systems, immersive technologies, and projection/sound solutions. In addition, Sony could create a more seamless and connected experience for moviegoers, such as through integrated ticketing platforms, mobile apps, and personalization driven by data analytics. While specific technological plans are not detailed, the combination of Sony's resources and Alamo Drafthouse's innovative approach could foster synergies and drive the development of new technologies to differentiate the theatrical experience further.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • Apex, a satellite bus maker, raised a $95M funding round co-led by XYZ VC and CRV joined by Upfront Ventures, 8VC, Toyota Ventures, Point72 Ventures and others. - learn more
  • Regard, a developer of AI tools to help medical providers synthesize patient data, raised a $30M Series B led by Oak HC/FT at a $350M valuation. - learn more
  • Daisy, a small business tech installation startup, raised an $11M Series A co-led by Goldcrest and Bungalow. - learn more
  • Pyte, a startup that allows companies in highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare to perform computations on encrypted data without ever decrypting it, raised a $5M Funding Round led by Myriad Venture Partners. - learn more

LA Venture Funds

LA Exits

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