California's AB 3262 Is Quietly Shelved; GoodRx Files for IPO; Scopely Adds FoxNext Exec to Its Ranks

Tami Abdollah

Tami Abdollah was dot.LA's senior technology reporter. She was previously a national security and cybersecurity reporter for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C. She's been a reporter for the AP in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times and for L.A.'s NPR affiliate KPCC. Abdollah spent nearly a year in Iraq as a U.S. government contractor. A native Angeleno, she's traveled the world on $5 a day, taught trad climbing safety classes and is an avid mountaineer. Follow her on Twitter.

California's AB 3262 Is Quietly Shelved; GoodRx Files for IPO; Scopely Adds FoxNext Exec to Its Ranks
Photo by Bryan Angelo on Unsplash

Here are the latest updates on news affecting Los Angeles' startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for more.

Today:

  • California Bill to Make Online Marketplaces Liable for Faulty Products is Shelved
  • GoodRx To Enter NASDAQ as GDRX
  • FoxNext Games Executive to Head Scopely's Business Operations

    FoxNext Games Executive to Head Scopely's Business Operations

    FoxNext Games Executive to Head Scopely's Business Operations

    Scopely, the Culver City-based gaming company behind Scrabble Go and several other mobile games, has named former FoxNext Games executive Aaron Loeb as its chief business officer.

    The move to bring in the veteran gaming executive came as part of Scopely's acquisition of FoxNext's gaming division, which it bought from Disney after then-CEO Bob Iger spun it off from 20th Century Fox.

    Before FoxNext, Loeb was president at mobile gaming studio Kabam and its spinout Aftershock, following stints as vice president and group general manager at games publisher EA and CEO at Planet Moon Studios, a game developer.

    Loeb will oversee several teams at Scopely, with a focus on "refining game development, tech quality and creative processes," according to the company statement. He will be based in the company's London offices, where Scopely has pushed its European expansion.

    The move comes as the gaming industry has been growing rapidly. There are nearly 3 billion gamers worldwide – that's more people than live in China and India, the world's two most populous countries, combined. One big reason that number is so high? Mobile games. Those "gamers" range from professional esports players seeking fame and fortune to folks waiting for their lattes by twiddling at games like Scrabble Go and Candy Crush.

    Earlier this year, nine-year-old Scopely raised a $400 million Series D, bringing its total funding raised to over $650 million. That cash helped to finance Scopely's acquisition of FoxNext Games in April. Scopely's other game titles include Yahtzee With Buddies, which has earned over $500 million in lifetime revenue according to a company statement, and Marvel Strike Force, which was developed by FoxNext.

    In addition to its L.A. HQ and London office, Scopely has offices in Boulder CO, Tokyo, Dublin and Barcelona.

    California's AB 3262 Is Quietly Shelved

    California Could Soon Make Amazon, Other Online Marketplaces Liable for Defective Products

    A California bill that would have held Amazon and other online marketplaces strictly liable for defective third-party products was quietly shelved over the weekend.

    The bill, AB 3262, authored by Democratic Assemblyman Mark Stone of Santa Cruz, was expected to be voted on by the state Senate before session adjourns Monday. But the bill has spurred increasing opposition among the business community. A novel coronavirus scare among Republican senators after one had tested positive last week further delayed the vote.

    Stone said in a statement that he recognized the complexity surrounding the purchase of flawed or falsely advertised products online but wanted to "move beyond the 'Buyer Beware' mentality, and toward an online policy that has been the law for brick-and-mortar retailers in California for decades."

    Supporters of the measure have said it is crucial to leveling the playing field for such brick-and-mortar stores, but critics say that the bill places an unnecessary burden on small businesses and startups with tighter budgets to address such issues who are already under tremendous strain during a global pandemic.

    "Unfortunately, despite promising ideas and potential paths for moving forward, AB 3262 will not advance in its present form by the legislative deadline," Stone said. "I am committed to continuing the conversation with the online industry, with my follow [sic] members in the legislature, and with California consumers, to create a strong and effective measure in the future that ensures that if a defective product is purchased online, the consumer has a remedy."

    GoodRx To Enter NASDAQ as GDRX

    GoodRx

    Prescription discount GoodRX filed to go public Friday and is looking to raise $100 million. It will be traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol "GDRX" later this year.

    Co-founded by former Facebook executive Doug Hirsch in 2011, the Santa Monica company makes money by collecting fees from pharmacy benefits managers. It offers comparison pricing at different pharmacies and has been one of the most popular downloaded medical apps.

    While some tech companies are going out for IPOs while losing money, GoodRx stands apart for its steady profit growth over recent years. It earned $54 million in profit for the first six months ending in June, up from $31 million over the same time last year, a 74% increase.

    The company targets consumers who are paying for drugs out-of-pocket at drug stores, and many of them have fallen off during the pandemic, choosing instead to stay home or avoid the doctor. Second quarter use fell to 4.4 million from 4.9 million from the prior quarter, although usage appears to be picking up again.

    Last year, GoodRx expanded into telehealth with HeyDoctor and, while patients have flocked to the new service during the pandemic, the division is less profitable than the prescription side of the business.

    In its filings on Friday, the company laid out some of its biggest risks, including a model that's highly dependent on a drug pricing structure dictated by pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesalers, insurance companies and benefits managers - all of which it has little control over. The company is also reliant on more than a dozen benefit managers, but their business is dominated by just three of them.

    Earlier this year, Hirsch and co-founder Trevor Bezdek told CNBC they are "constantly worrying" about regulatory issues like single payer health care, competition and the industry souring on them.

    "All we can do, and all we have done, is stayed true to our mission of helping provide more transparency to consumers," Bezdek told CNBC.


    tami@dot.la

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    Cadence

    Netflix's New Culture Memo Addresses Censorship and Corporate Secrecy

    Kristin Snyder

    Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

    Netflix's New Culture Memo Addresses Censorship and Corporate Secrecy
    Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash

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    The changes, which Variety reported on Thursday, indicate a new focus on fiscal responsibility and concern about censorship. While promises to support honest feedback and open decision-making remain, the memo’s first update in almost five years reveals that the days of lax spending are over. The newly added “artistic expression” section emphasizes Netflix’s refusal to censor its work and implores employees to support the platform’s content.

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