Will an 'Anti-Superficial' Dating App Find Love in LA?

If you think someone is attractive, swipe right. If you don't, swipe left and you never see them again. That's how Tinder and its scores of imitators have defined online dating for the last eight years. But for those looking for a deeper connection, S'More, which stands for "Something More," expands to Los Angeles Wednesday, bringing what it bills an "anti-superficial" dating app to a city with a reputation for superficiality.


Courtesy S'More

Users receive recommended profiles each day based on common interests, similar to Coffee Meets Bagels. However, on this app the pictures are blurred out. As you start to chat more with someone, their pictures come into focus. The idea is to get people to interact rather than just quickly swiping through photos. The process has drawn comparisons to the Netflix hit, "Love is Blind," though S'More launched last year, before the show premiered in February.

There have been signs of dating app fatigue, though Bumble and Tinder both saw large upticks in usage when people were confined to their homes during stay at home orders. For those who do not want to meet in-person, S'More also allows users to initiate a video chat where during the first two minutes, both sides are blurred. If both decide they want to see each other, the blurring goes away.

"With video dating, women often express feeling uncomfortable with existing technology because it feels too invasive and unsafe," said Adam Cohen Aslatei, CEO of S'More. "S'More completely changes the experience, removes the risk, and makes the process fun and exciting. If a user isn't enjoying the conversation, they can end it before ever seeing (or being seen) by the other person. Blurred videos also encourage longer conversations, and provide an added sense of security."

The company says it already has a waiting list of thousands in L.A., which will be its fifth market, after New York, Boston, Washington DC, and Chicago.

Aslatei is former managing director of Chappy, Bumble's gay dating app. S'More has backing from Benson Oak Ventures, Social Discovery Ventures, and power angels Josh Black (Apollo Management), and Mark Rosner (App Lovin).

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On this week's episode of LA Venture, hear from Marcos Gonzalez, the managing partner at Vamos Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund which invests in Latino and diverse founders. Over half of L.A. County is Latino. A relatively new fund, investments are in the range of $100,000 to $500,000. Seems like a great time to be investing in this community! And, Vamos is hiring...

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El Segundo-based telemedicine technology provider Cloudbreak Health and Florida-based UpHealth Holdings, a digital healthcare provider, announced they will combine and go public via a SPAC in a deal that values the combined companies at $1.35 billion.

Named UpHealth, Inc., the new company aims to streamline online health care by becoming a single provider of four different services: telehealth, teletherapy, a health care appointment and management system and an online pharmacy.

UpHealth runs healthcare platform Thrasys Inc. and MedQuest Pharmacy, along with two other behavioral health companies. The merger with Cloudbreak, which under the pandemic expanded their interpretation services to remote medicine, will give the new company a foothold in almost 2,000 hospitals.

"What we wanted to do was form a business that could really be a digital infrastructure for health care across the continuum of care, right from home to hospital," said Jamey Edwards, the co-founder and CEO of Cloudbreak. Under the agreement, he will become the company's chief operating officer.

GigCapital2 expects the merger transaction to close at the start of Q1 2021. UpHealth will be publicly traded under the ticker "UPH" on the New York Stock Exchange. UpHealth's integrated care management platform serves over 5 million people, and is expected to reach 40 million over the next three years, according to the company.

Jamey Edwards, Cloudbreak

Jamey Edwards, co-founder and executive director of Cloudbreak

COVID-19 caused a meteoric growth in the use of telehealth services. In February, 0.1% of Medicare primary visits were provided through telehealth. In April, that number was nearly 44%, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Key stakeholders have seen and responded well to the benefits that telemedicine can bring, but they need a more comprehensive, integrated solution," said Al Gatmaitan, who has been named the co-chief executive officer of UpHealth. "This is what UpHealth focuses on, the adoption of digital health solutions well beyond the pandemic crisis."

The deal with the blank check company GigCapital2 gives the two digital health companies access to a wider network. UpHealth and its family of companies operate in 10 countries and their pharmacy has 13,000 e-prescribers in the U.S.


UpHealth will use the Cloudbreak platform as part of their global telehealth services to provide patients with round-the-clock care under a variety of specialties, including telepsychiatry and tele-urology. UpHealth also has contracts internationally, to provide country-wide care in India, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Edwards joined Cloudbreak in 2008 when it went from public to private. It has raised $35 million in venture funds, most recently in the first quarter of this year scoring $10 million from Columbia Partners Private Capital.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story identified Jamey Edwards as executive director of Cloudbreak, he is its CEO.

Ryan Edwards, the co-founder of Happier Camper, said he's asked all the time if his company leans on influencer marketing to promote their vintage-style trailers beloved by millennials.

With a waitlist six months out and demand growing from hotel-weary travelers, he said it isn't a priority yet.

"We almost don't need to," said Edwards.

That's because the $25,000 to $50,000 custom trailers have been a hit with a loyal fan base, and rising demand during the pandemic has only helped. Orders for compact trailers at the lower price end, including Happier Camper's 75-square-foot camper, are growing as newbie road trippers look for COVID-safe travels.

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