Cryptocurrency IRA Firms Are Springing Up Around Los Angeles

Pat Maio
Pat Maio has held various reporting and editorial management positions over the past 25 years, having specialized in business and government reporting. He has held reporting jobs with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Orange County Register, Dow Jones News and other newspapers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Cryptocurrency IRA Firms Are Springing Up Around Los Angeles
Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

Despite a rattled market and an uncertain regulatory future, cryptocurrencies continue to entrench themselves further in the mainstream. Now, the digital asset class has found relevancy in a new investment market: self-directed individual retirement accounts, or IRAs. And Los Angeles has quickly established itself as an epicenter of the crypto IRA industry.


Self-directed IRAs have long allowed investors to put their money into alternative assets such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium: minerals that are tangible, and stored securely by banks and financial institutions. But cryptocurrencies—which are essentially pieces of data that are authenticated and tracked on digital ledgers known as blockchains—are considerably different. Yet despite their decentralized, inherently riskier nature, that hasn’t stopped investors from pouring their retirement savings into crypto—giving rise to a cadre of new players seeking to manage such funds.

There are a handful of firms in the L.A. area focused on selling self-directed IRAs with a crypto focus, including Sherman Oaks-based Bitcoin IRA; Burbank-based BitIRA; Woodland Hills-based CoinIRA; and Beverly Hills-based Regal Assets, which is largely focused on metal commodities but sets up crypto IRAs for its wealthy client list.

Most notably, Long Beach-based iTrustCapital raised $125 million in Series A funding last month from New York-based Left Lane Capital. The raise gave iTrustCapital an eye-popping $1.3 billion unicorn valuation some four years after its launch, as well as the capital needed to continue its prolific growth.

With more than 150 employees and operations scattered across the South Bay and Irvine, as well as Salt Lake City, iTrustCapital could double in size by the end of 2022, company CEO Todd Southwick told dot.LA. It plans to use the new funding to build out its regulatory and compliance teams, pursue acquisitions and up its marketing budget.

iTrustCapital now holds roughly $2 billion in assets under custody and 27,000 client-funded accounts, with an average size of $55,000 per account. The startup said it has more than doubled its total transaction volume in the last six months alone, to more than $4.5 billion.

Todd Southwick

iTrustCapital CEO Todd Southwick.

Courtesy of iTrustCapital

Southwick maintains that iTrustCapital is profitable with revenues of less than $50 million in 2021, thanks in part to a pandemic that drove growth in the crypto market. A Series B raise could follow in 2022, though the timing has yet to be decided. “You’re either going to exit via acquisition or go public—I don’t have a preference,” he said.

iTrustCapital’s competitors include Nashville-based Alto Solutions, which is also a self-directed IRA platform and raised $40 million in a Series B round in January. “I think it’s a two-horse race right now [between Alto and iTrustCapital],” Alto founder and CEO Eric Satz said, discounting some of the smaller players active in crypto IRAs.

Like iTrustCapital, Alto also launched in 2018 and plans to use its new funding to grow its operations (Satz said it’s aiming to more than double its 50-person product and engineering team by the end of 2022). The firm currently serves more than 15,000 IRA investors and holds $1 billion of assets under custody.

Chris Kline

Bitcoin IRA co-founder and COO Chris Kline.

Sherman Oaks-based Bitcoin IRA, meanwhile, recently expanded its crypto offerings to focus on digital tokens with a market capitalization greater than $200 million—including Cardano (ADA) and Solana (SOL)—and to provide its clients with more options to hedge against market fluctuations, according to co-founder and COO Chris Kline.

“At the end of the day, the crypto industry is growing up,” Kline told dot.LA. “More and more clients are looking for options.” Bitcoin IRA’s strategy is to embrace “legitimate players” offering digital assets with larger market caps, Kline said, in order to avoid potential pitfalls in the market.

As an example, he pointed to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s December 2020 complaint against Ripple Labs and two of the crypto firm’s executives. The SEC alleged that Ripple raised more than $1.3 billion through an unregistered securities offering—the securities being Ripple’s XRP crypto token.

“You don’t want to be putting a coin in [an account] that could basically not be able to be sold at some point,” Kline said. “We’ve dealt with that—with things like what happened at Ripple at the end of 2020, and with the SEC basically making us tell our clients, ‘Hey, this asset may not be liquid again in the future. Beware.’ And a lot of them sold it off, some held it and they’re waiting to see what happens.”

As a result, not everyone is jumping on the crypto IRA bandwagon. Noticeably absent from the market are popular brokerages like Robinhood, E-Trade and TD Ameritrade—though Ameritrade has made overtures indicating that it could dip its toe in the crypto IRA market, according to sources interviewed.

“We are always monitoring and evaluating new products developing in the space, but we don’t have any specific plans to share at this time,” a TD Ameritrade spokesperson told dot.LA.

As more investors gravitate toward cryptocurrencies in search of financial gains, it makes sense that the sector continues to diversify its investment offerings. But for some who are responsible for clients’ savings, the notion of a crypto-focused retirement fund is simply too much risk to bear.

Financial planner Anjali Jariwala, who leads Torrance-based FIT Advisors, told dot.LA that she would be concerned with someone’s decision to use a self-directed IRA to invest in crypto.

“I believe in diversification and prefer IRA-type accounts to be invested in the markets,” she said. “If there is extra money that is in cash or sitting in a brokerage account, that may be used towards more speculative investments like Bitcoin—but I wouldn't try to find a way to invest retirement money.”

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

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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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