Bright Raises $15 Million As It Adds More Celebrities Onto Its Platform

Bernard Mendez
Bernard Mendez is an editorial intern at dot.LA. He attends UCLA, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics. Mendez was previously an editor at the Daily Bruin, the student newspaper at UCLA.
Bright learning platform

Naomi Campbell is offering a class on being "model ready"; you can chat directly with her.

She's part of a group of celebrities — including Lindsey Vonn, Amy Schumer, Judd Apatow, Madonna and the D'Amelio Sisters — giving livestream courses to small audiences on the celebrity-backed livestreaming platform Bright.


The Los Angeles-based startup raised $15 million to aid its quest to attract big name celebrities to its platform, it announced Thursday.

Bright sells tickets to courses held by celebrities and high-profile experts. Entrance to the class can cost anywhere from $15 to $50 and beyond per session and capacity is typically limited to under 100 people, as decided by the host.

Topics hosted on Bright range from entrepreneurship to self improvement to music. One lecture, called "Behind The Hype House," lets you hear from social media creator and Hype House founder Thomas Petrou. Actor and Entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher – also a lead investor in the company – hosts "The Perfect Pitch With Ashton Kutcher."

"All our partners share Bright's vision that people want to level up their lives by learning directly from those they admire," said co-founder and CEO Michael Powers in announcing the raise. "Through Bright, talent can better engage authentically with audiences by sharing their own knowledge and bringing their many interests and passions to the foreground."

The platform offers a chatting function to let users converse with creators, similar to fellow livestreaming platforms Twitch, Youtube and Instagram Live. But compared to those platforms, Bright's sessions are tightly scheduled, hosted by established names and limited in capacity — not to mention pricier.

The model of letting users get closer to experts and celebrities through the internet has also been piloted by platforms like San Francisco-based Masterclass, which allows people to watch tutorials and take courses hosted by professional writers, actors and chefs. That company was reportedly valued at $2.75 billion after a $225 million round of funding earlier this year.

Bright's round of funding was led by Sound Ventures, RIT Capital and Regah Ventures and included celebrities like Judd Apatow, Leslie Mann and Shawn Mendes.

With the infusion of funds, Bright launched Creator Studio, a feature allowing for instant polling and the ability to share learning materials on platform.

Bright works on the Zoom video conferencing platform. Users have to download Bright's Mac or IOS apps to attend the lectures; Bright's Android app is under construction.

The startup hopes to grab attention from celebrities by giving them a better way to reach fans. Powers, who declined a request for an interview, told dot.LA last year that hosts receive contact information from users who opt in to get updates on their courses.

"That allows the creators to then take those people to their mailing list. They can take them to their Shopify shop," he said at the time. "Whatever they have going on in their business, they can connect those people into that bigger universe of things they're doing."

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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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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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