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Tennis great Billie Jean King, a co-owner of the L.A. Dodgers, joined the team in launching a new accelerator Thursday called the Trailblazer Venture Studio. The studio will work with and support early- and later-stage startups in collaboration with third party investors, including R/GA Ventures and Elysian Park Ventures, the firm backed by the team’s principal owners Together, they’ll fund and support women-run businesses, primarily—but not exclusively—operating in the sports space.
Trailblazer’s first class included nine media, tech and sports-focused startups. Among them: IDA Sports, which manufactures cleats specifically designed for women’s feet; all-in-one video and editing platform Curastory; Elysian Park Planning, which creates “experiential sports spaces”; the junior pro volleyball league LOVB and a mobile app called “Sportsbox AI” that uses 3D motion capture technology to give deep feedback for athletes. (For example, using the app to determine and eliminate flaws in your golf swing.) Trailblazer hasn't disclosed how much was invested into each company.
The new project is part of King’s long-term goal to empower and promote female entrepreneurs, which she described recently to The Athletic as a 50-year mission. There’s always a chance that the investments could drive future collaborations with the Dodgers and other teams owned by the same individuals, such as the UK’s Chelsea FC.
The Dodgers organization is a frequent investor in local startups, often working with their portfolio companies on new promotional ideas and services. The team launched its own internal business incubator program in 2015, which was rebranded and restructured as Global Sports Venture Studio in 2018. Palo Alto’s Uplift, which uses multiple iPhones to record 3D motion captures of elite athletes, received seed funding over the summer from Global Sports.
Dodger Stadium itself debuted a $100 million upgrade last year which included improvements in its technology, such as newly-installed, lightning-fast 5G wireless connectivity and improved point-of-sale systems that make the concession lines move faster. One of these new products–the mobile ordering app “Appetize”–was created by a Playa Vista startup that was part of the 2016 Dodger accelerator class. It’s now also in use at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, and was acquired last year by San Francisco’s payment and service company SpotOn for $415 million.
It’s even possible to get your favorite Dodger Stadium treats delivered to your home by Postmates, a concept that surprisingly was in the works even before the pandemic rendered ballparks obsolete for a full season. Items available to order include classic Dodger Dogs, of course, along with carne asada nachos served inside a commemorative Dodger helmet and gelato that’s been artificially colored to a deep, rich Dodger Blue hue. -Lon Harris
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What We’re Reading...
-- An internal LAUSD report, published two years prior to this summer’s cyberattack, identified key vulnerabilities in the school district’s data systems.
- Cerritos-based scooter company Razor introduced the new EcoSmart Cargo, a seated electric scooter designed to carry either two adult passengers or provide extra storage space.
- A new natural language AI developed by Spectrum Labs can scan text searching for either toxic or “healthy” online behavior; it will be integrated into Together Labs’ social game platform, IMVU.
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