Neo-Bank Dave Lands $100 Million FTX Investment To Grow Crypto Presence

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 and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Neo-Bank Dave Lands $100 Million FTX Investment To Grow Crypto Presence
Courtesy of Dave

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Two months after going public on the Nasdaq, digital banking app Dave is doubling down on its cryptocurrency plans after receiving a new $100 million investment from crypto exchange FTX.

The deal furthers Dave’s ambitions to rival competitors such as SoFi, which offers banking, investing and crypto-trading services all in one app. Crypto has been a target market of Dave’s dating back to before it went public this January via a SPAC merger.

The West Hollywood-based fintech startup already had ties to FTX: Alameda Research, the crypto trading firm founded by FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, invested $15 million in Dave in a pre-IPO private placement deal last year.

Now, FTX is investing $100 million in Dave through its $2 billion FTX Ventures fund, while FTX US—the crypto exchange’s U.S. unit—is teaming with Dave on a “strategic partnership” meant to help it expand its crypto offerings. In a statement, the companies said FTX US will serve as Dave’s “exclusive partner for cryptocurrencies,” while the two firms will look to “introduce digital asset payments into Dave’s platform.”

In an interview with dot.LA earlier this year, Dave CFO Kyle Beilman said the startup was interested in using crypto to facilitate cross-border money transfers between the U.S. and Mexico.

On Dave’s fourth-quarter earnings call Monday, Beilman said the company could also use the money raised from FTX to pursue acquisitions, which he described as an “attractive component of our growth and capital allocation strategy.” FTX’s $100 million investment is not an equity deal, but rather takes the form of unsecured convertible notes—a type of short-term debt—that bear an annual interest rate of 3%.

In addition to announcing the FTX financing deal, Dave also released its first quarterly earnings report as a public company on Monday, covering both the fourth quarter and overall 2021 fiscal year. The firm reported quarterly revenues ($41.2 million) and full-year revenues ($153 million) that were up 16% and 26%, respectively, from their year-earlier periods—though it also posted a $15.2 million fourth-quarter net loss that contributed to $20 million in losses in the full 2021 fiscal year (up from $7 million in fiscal year 2020).

Dave also shared a bullish revenue guidance for 2022, projecting them at between $200 and $230 million in the ongoing fiscal year. The company also reported a growing customer base that surpassed 6 million users and more than 1.5 million monthly transacting members at the end of last year.

Those factors, plus Dave’s deal with FTX, sent the company’s stock climb more than 20% at one point in after-hours trading Monday—though it quickly moderated closer to Monday’s closing price of $10.60 per share.

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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.