2020 Was Great for Startups, If You Were a Man

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

Female Founders

Record amounts of venture capital were deployed in 2020, but fewer dollars flowed to companies run by female founders, according to a new report from All Raise, the nonprofit backed by Pivotal Ventures, the investment firm of Melinda Gates and the Reid Hoffman Foundation.

"Our latest analysis of 2020 data shows that the pandemic year precipitated a backslide for female founders' access to funding — as well as those writing the checks," Jenny Abramson, co-lead of the All Raise data team wrote in a blog post.

Funding for teams with at least one female founder fell 2.5% in 2020 from 16.9% to 14.4%, according to the report. The percentage of funding that went to all female-led companies also dropped, to just 2.3%. It comes after years of progress for female-run startups.

When female-led teams did get checks, they were between 15% to 49% smaller than their male counterparts. The report found the divide is getting worse, especially for later-stage companies.

On the venture side, the study found 64% of firms still have no female check writers and only 10% have more than two. And there were 27 women elevated to check-writer status for the first time, which was actually a decrease of 50% from 2019. Amongst the 27 new check writers, only 1 identified as Black and none as Latina.

The mission of All Raise is to highlight tech's gender gap with data and to that end the nonprofit unveiled a dashboard tracking progress, or the lack thereof.

Los Angeles is home to several of the nation's top female VCs including Greycroft's Dana Settle, Upfront's Kara Nortman, and M13's Anna Barber. But they are still vastly outnumbered.

Similarly, there are plenty of top female founders — $544 million was invested in female-founded startups last year in the Los Angeles area — but their ranks pale in comparison to males.

The report does not explore the reasons for the decline, though one likely culprit is the trend in 2020 of most money going to big, established funds, which tend to be run by white males.

Established firms secured nearly 75% of total capital raised in 2020, the highest share since 2012, according to Pitchbook.


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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

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.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

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.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Motional Links With Uber to Make Robotaxis a Reality

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Image courtesy of Motional

Motional, a self-driving taxi startup backed by Hyundai, will partner with Uber to bring its robotic taxis to cities throughout the United States within the next decade as part of its push to get people more comfortable with the concept of taking a ride in a driverless electric vehicle.

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