LA-Based Mobile Gaming Startup Carbonated Raises $8.5M

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

LA-Based Mobile Gaming Startup Carbonated Raises $8.5M

Carbonated, Inc., an El Segundo-based mobile gaming studio, announced Friday it raised $8.5 million in a seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz, Golden Ventures and Bitkraft Esports Ventures Management.

Founded in 2015, the company develops competitive multiplayer games for cell phones using AI and a live-ops platform they've built called "Carbyne." The technology, its CEO said, makes mobile the gaming experience easier — even when using one hand.


"The challenge historically has been most hardcore games aren't natively designed for mobile (i.e., lots of buttons and virtual d-pads)," Carbonated co-founder and CEO Travis Boatman wrote on Medium. Before creating Carbonated, he and co-founder Lloyd Tulles worked on mobile games including Zynga Poker, Sims Free Play and Simpsons Tapped Out.

"The reason we started the company was that as folks with busy lives and living rooms, we missed playing hardcore competitive games on console and PC," Boatman wrote. "We realized pretty quickly that we're not the only ones and there's a huge underserved market which continues to grow as younger core gamers age up and enter the workforce, like we did."

Boatman said the company is developing mobile technology to target this demographic. They've been working closely with Amazon Game Tech since demoing pieces of Carbyne at Amazon's Game Developers Conference booth in 2019, he said.

The startup has yet to announce a release date for its first project, Madworld, a combat game set in a dystopian world.

Other angel investors and advisors of this recent funding round include Mark Pincus, Kent Wakeford, Shanti Bergel and Chris Ye.

"Our partner criteria has always been more than just purely financial," Boatman wrote. "We look for people with deep industry experience who are willing to roll up their sleeves and dig in. We're thrilled to have partners like that around the table who believe in our team and mission."

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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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GrayMatter Is Building Industrial Robots To Take Over the Jobs Humans Hate

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.

​GrayMatter robotics working
Andria Moore courtesy of GrayMatter

GrayMatter Robotics, a startup based in Gardena (and definitely not a “Breaking Bad” reference, the founders assure us) is looking to disrupt the industrial finishing and sanding industry by programming robotic arms with artificial intelligence software to automate this labor.

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