Dear Media Raises $8 Million for the 'Future of Audio & Commerce'

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Dear Media Raises $8 Million for the 'Future of Audio & Commerce'

West Hollywood-based Dear Media announced Thursday that it raised $8 million from Magnet Companies, a private equity-backed holding company with offices in New York and Los Angeles.

Dear Media is a podcast network focusing on female voices, with a roster of over 40 hosts including lifestyle guru Lauryn Evarts of "The Skinny Confidential," Jackie Schimmel of "The Bitch Bible," and wellness and nutrition experts Wendy Lopez and Jessica Jones. The network, whose podcasts can be heard on typical channels like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, targets an audience of mostly millennial and Gen-Z women who want to engage with podcast hosts across multiple channels, chief executive Michael Bosstick told dot.LA.


"We look at this space as needing a serious update," Bosstick said.

The firm's "360 degree business model" provides hosts with production support from idea generation to distribution, and works across a host's portfolio of multi-platform media outlets for promotion. In this way Dear Media aims to usher in what it calls the "future of audio and commerce."

"We view a lot of talent on this network as not just shows but brands themselves," explained Bosstick.

Dear Media is a West Hollywood podcast network focusing on female voices.

For advertisers this means that working with Dear Media enables them to reach consumers not just through podcasts, but also other touch-points that hosts have with their fans, such as online video, social media and blogs. Coordinating such a marketing approach in turn means Dear Media offers its talent a "unique monetization model that allows creators to make more in a much smarter way," Magnet Companies co-founder Jeff Berman described in a statement.

Bosstick told dot.LA that Dear Media is also interested in investing in companies, whether they be complementary bolt-ons or those that its roster of talent wants to pursue. In this sense he sees Dear Media as an "incubator" rather than a mere media company.

Dear Media's shows have exceeded 150 million downloads and its hosts' collective reach extends across 25 million social media followers, according to the company. And the firm believes its roster is destined to grow, thanks in no small part to co-founder Raina Penchansky's connection to United Talent Agency, which acquired her influencer marketing company, DBA, in 2019.

"(Dear Media) will have ample opportunities to work with an industry-wide roster that includes unique access to talent cross-collaborations within UTA and DBA's collective reach," the fundraising announcement said.

The funds will reportedly be used to grow Dear Media's content slate, fund investments, and expand its internal team to bring on more advertisers. Bossttick noted that the podcast space has been "limiting" to some brands, and he wants to leverage his company's approach to help overcome those limits and bring in new entrants.

Bosstick started the company with Penchansky in 2018 after having spun up a podcast of his own, with his wife, and noticing the shortcomings of what he described as a narrow approach.

"We joined a prominent network and the experience was limiting, because they'd only focus on a subset of the brand," he said. "So we said let's go back to self-producing and build it how we wanted it to be done." This experience has proven beneficial in multiple ways, Bosstick said. It has allowed him to relate to the many pain-points that podcasters face, and has served as an on-ramp for several Dear Media hosts, who originally were guests on his show.

The fundraise comes at a promising time for podcasts in general and particularly in Los Angeles. Spotify has reportedly spent over half a billion dollars on podcast acquisitions since the start of 2019, and representatives from the company have told dot.LA that Los Angeles is the "center of gravity" for its podcast strategy.

Dear Media's numerous L.A.-based podcast company counterparts include Wondery, Neon Hum, and Crooked Media.

Bosstick is bullish on the space.

"I think you'll see a lot of new brands and money moving in," he said. "It's an exciting time for podcasting."

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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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Inflation Reduction Act Officially Passes the Senate, Revamping Electric Vehicle Pricing

David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

The Capitol at Sunset
Courtesy of Mike Stoll via Unsplash

Over the weekend Senate Democrats officially passed the Inflation Reduction Act in what amounts to President Biden’s biggest legislative win so far. The bill includes a host of broad-spectrum economic policy changes and completely reworks the subsidies for electric vehicle purchases. The law still has to get through the House, but this should be a much smaller hurdle.

dot.LA covered the bill in depth as it neared the goal line at the end of July, and the final iteration doesn’t change much. To recap:

1. The rebate total stays $7,500 but is broken into two $3,750 chunks tied to how much of the car and its battery are made in the US.

2. The manufacturer caps are eliminated, meaning even EV companies that have sold more than 20,000 vehicles are once again eligible.

3. Rebates will now only apply to cars priced below $55,000 and trucks/SUVs below $80,000

With the new system placing a renewed emphasis on American manufacturing and assembly, the calculus of which vehicles cost how much is still being worked out. The most comprehensive (but unofficial!) list I’ve seen has come from Reddit user u/Mad691.

In addition to the EV rebate program, the bill also includes a number of economic incentives aimed at curbing emissions and accelerating the country’s transition to electric vehicles.

There’s $20 billion earmarked for the construction of new clean vehicle manufacturing facilities and $3 billion will go help electrify the USPS delivery fleet. Another $3 billion will go to electrifying the nation’s ports. Then there’s $1 billion for zero-emission trucks and buses.

Now that the bill is about to be codified into law, VC investment in the sector might heat up in response to the new money flowing in.

“I do anticipate more climate funds standing up to invest in EV infrastructure,” says Taj Ahmad Eldridge, a partner at Include Ventures and the director at CREST an ARES Foundation initiative with JFF/WRI that aims to provide training for people in the new green economy. “However, we do see funds being a little more thoughtful on diligence and taking their time to fund the right investment.”

The sentiment seems to be shared across Southern California. ChargeNet CEO and Co-Founder Tosh Dutt says the Inflation Reduction Act “super charges” the company’s effort to build infrastructure across the country.

“This investment accelerates the transition to renewable energy and gives companies like ChargeNet Stations the confidence to expand more rapidly, especially in underserved communities,” says Dutt.

For Rivian, the bill’s passage has left would-be customers in a sort of limbo. Because many of their models will exceed the $80,000 cap for trucks and SUVs after options, customers who’ve preordered are scrambling to sign buyers’ agreements to take advantage of the current EV rebate scheme which doesn’t include price caps. As I noted in the previous article, if you buy an EV before the bill is signed, you’re eligible for the current rebate system even if the vehicle isn’t delivered until 2023. Any existing contracts under the current system will remain valid.

With the legislation seemingly on the fast track to become law, it’s unclear whether or not Rivian will expedite the purchasing process to allow customers to sign the buyers’ agreement before the new rebate program becomes the law of the land. Tick tock!

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