📺 'Charter'ing a Course Towards a Post-Cable Era?

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.

🔦 Spotlight

The ongoing dispute between Burbank-based Walt Disney Co. and Charter Communications (parent of Spectrum cable/internet) regarding the distribution of Disney's channels, particularly ESPN, could potentially unravel the cable TV business as we know it. 🖥️🤺📺

Image Source: Los Angeles Times

The dispute between Walt Disney Co. and Charter Communications resembles a high-stakes chess match. Disney's CEO, Bob Iger, has publicly revealed Disney's intention to bring ESPN channels directly to consumers, signaling a strategic move away from classic cable. Charter, whose distribution agreement for Disney channels was set to expire, responded with a bold move of its own by initiating a blackout of Disney's channels for its Spectrum customers.

This battle is seen as a proxy war for the future of pay-TV. While Charter has largely agreed to Disney's financial demands, it insists on gaining more flexibility in how it delivers Disney's channels and streaming apps. This strategic standoff mirrors the dynamics of a chess match, with both sides carefully weighing their moves and considering the long-term consequences.

The broader context reveals the challenges faced by pay-TV providers as the industry shifts towards streaming. Many subscribers have cut the cord in favor of streaming services, and cable companies are grappling with the increased programming fees. This dispute exemplifies the evolving landscape of entertainment distribution.

So what does this all mean…

The outcome of this game hinges on the decisions made by both sides. If Charter agrees to Disney's terms, it may secure access to Disney's content but could face higher fees and reduced flexibility down the road. Conversely, if Charter stands firm and rejects Disney's terms, it risks losing access to highly popular channels and streaming content, potentially alienating its customer base. Will Charter flip the board and begin an entirely new type of game without cable TV? ♟️

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Startups

  • Santa Monica-based Simple Closure, a platform to help automate the shut-down process, raised a $1.5M Pre-Seed Round led by Vera Equity and Cambrian Ventures, with participation from a group of executives at various startups including Brex, Gusto and Nvidia. - learn more
  • Santa Monica-based Zeeve, a blockchain infrastructure management platform, received a $1M follow-on investment from Expert Dojo, also based in Santa Monica. - learn more

Featured Event (9/14)

Plug In South LA is hosing its Accelerator Cohort 4 Founder Showcase on September 14th (This Thursday!).

Hosted by our friends at Plug In, this event will showcase Early Stage Black and Brown Founders rolling out new service and platform solutions in Digital Health/Healthcare Tech, FinTech, Digital Media, PropTech, and EdTech.

🚀 For Early Stage Investors looking to diversify their portfolios with high-potential companies led by Black and Brown Entrepreneurs, this showcase is a must-attend. We also extend a warm welcome to the LA Tech community, including LPs, Corporate Executives & Foundations, and Family Offices.

🎟️ Secure your spot now and immerse yourself in a night of innovation, inspiration, and boundless opportunities. Register for the Plug In Accelerator Cohort 4 Founder Showcase here.


📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, September 10th

  • The Data Scientist Hangout 🗽 - Ex-Amazon data scientist and podcast host, Daliana Liu, and ex-Meta machine learning engineer, Damien Benveniste, will be hosting a hangout at Royce Hall in UCLA Sunday morning.

Tuesday, September 12th

Wednesday, September 13th

  • Startup Cafe🗽 - Meet and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, investors, and industry professionals while enjoying a nice cup of coffee Wednesday morning in Venice.
  • LA Tech Happy Hour 🗽 - Meet and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, investors, and industry professionals after work while enjoying refreshing drinks in Culver City.
  • Originate Poker Night & AI Cocktail Event 🗽 - Come and see what Originate has to offer you and your business at their first ever Poker Night and AI Cocktail Event in Playa Vista.

Thursday, September 14th

Other events to add to the calendar

🗽 - Free

🌍 Around The Internet

LA’s Top Tech Funding Rounds of the Summer

As summer temperatures soared in Los Angeles, the city's tech companies found themselves navigating a funding landscape that, while still dynamic, showed signs of cooling down. Nevertheless, noteworthy funding rounds took place, illustrating the resilience and adaptability of LA's tech ecosystem. Here are the top five funding rounds between Memorial Day and Labor Day that provided a glimpse into the shifting dynamics of the city's tech scene.

  1. Q-CTRL: $54M in JulyQ-CTRL, a startup that has built quantum-sensing software that helps reduce errors on quantum computers, closed out its $54M long-running Series B led by Morpheus Ventures. The funds will go toward fostering technical innovation, expanding Q-CTRL’s product portfolio and scaling the company’s operations. - Read More
  2. Impulse Space: $45M in JulyImpulse Space, the space logistics startup, raised a $45M Series A led by RTX Ventures joined by Founders Fund, Lux Capital, Airbus Ventures and Space Capital. The funds are intended to further develop Helios, it’s largest orbital maneuvering vehicle to date, into a high-energy kick stage that will be capable of bypassing geostationary transfer orbit and taking payloads directly to geostationary orbit. - Read More
  3. Karat Financial: $40M in JulyKarat, a startup building financial tools for content creators, raised a $70M Series B a combination of debt ($30 million, led by TriplePoint Capital) and equity ($40 million, led by SignalFire joined by Union Square Ventures, CRV, GGV, Commerce Ventures as well as actor Will Smith via Dreamers VC, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and YouTube co-founder Steve Chen). The funds are intended to help scale existing products and continue to build tools to help creators manage money. - Read More
  4. Mythical Games: $37M in JuneMythical Games, a next-generation gaming studio, secured $37M as part of its C1 led by Scytale Digital joined by ARK Invest, Animoca Brands, PROOF, Stanford Athletics, MoonPay, Andreessen Horowitz, Gaingels, Signum Growth, Struck Capital, and WestCap. The funds will be used to achieve profitability within 12 months and follow through Mythical’s mission of providing innovation to video games through web3 infrastructure to mainstream gamers through new economy and game models. - Read More
  5. Gardens: $31.3M in JulyGardens, a new independent game studio focused on fantasy adventure video games raised a $31.3M Series A led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Krafton and joined by Dreamhaven, TIRTA, Rendered VC, Transcend Fund, Funplus and others. Gardens, founded in the summer of 2021, will use the funds to create a fantasy action role-playing game. - Read More

📙 What We’re Reading

  • AI-Curious, a new podcast exploring applications of AI, interviews Hollywood producers who are pioneers of using AI, not to replace writers and actors, but to optimize production and build communities: the cofounders of Toonstar Studios, CEO John Attanasio and COO Luisa Huang. - listen here
  • An increase in Los Angeles' data center demand is largely driven by artificial intelligence requirements and the continued adoption of cloud services. - read more
  • ESPN and Fanatics join the sports betting market and will challenge the FanDuel-DraftKings duopoly that currently dominates the online sports betting industry. - read more

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

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.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

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.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

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.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
Trending