dot.LA Summit: Grid110 Wins Social Justice Award

dot.LA Summit: Grid110 Wins Social Justice Award

dot.La kicked off its inaugural in-person summit on Oct. 28-29 at the Fairmont Miramar hotel in Santa Monica. This year's summit features over 45 speakers covering cryptocurrency, telehealth, urban mobility and women in tech, among others. You can find a full schedule of this year's summit here and read the recap below!

Updates:


dot.LA Summit: As Attitudes Shift Around Drugs and Mental Health, ‘It’s Time’ for Psychedelic Therapies

Keerthi Vedantam

Fifty years after President Nixon announced the war on drugs, changing cultural attitudes around psychedelics have led to a slew of decriminalization and legalization efforts across the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration is now reviewing psychedelic-based drug, a sea change from just a few years ago.

Mike Dow from Field Trip Health, one of the many companies testing psychedelic-based drugs, and cannabis company Kurvana CEO Mehran Moghaddam believe that this shift will change the course of mental health treatment as the drugs become more accepted for medicinal use.

Canada-based Field Trip Health has clinics around the world, including Santa Monica, where therapists perform ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. Ketamine, once known as a rave drug, has long been studied for its correlation with positive mental health outcomes in patients who use it. Read more >>

dot.LA Summit: The Concerts of the Future Will Be Hybrid, Says Wave Co-Founder

Joshua Letona

As the pandemic shut down, cancelled and delayed events people had been looking forward to, Wave co-founder and CEO Adam Arrigo saw an opportunity.

His company was founded in 2016 at a time when brands like Oculus and PlayStation were looking to bring virtual reality into the mainstream. Not knowing how ready people would be, Arrigo and his team were conservative with the company's money.

"We basically didn't spend any money because we weren't sure how quickly people were going to strap these things to their heads… And we were kind of right because VR sort of petered out," said Arrigo. Read more >>

dot.LA Summit: What to Expect When Breaking Into Tech Startups

Decerry Donato

There is no one secret to breaking into the tech industry, but one thing helps, a strong support system of colleagues and believing in yourself.

A group of powerhouse tech veterans talked about the roadblocks faced when starting out. Grace Kangdani, senior vice president market manager at Bank of America moderated a discussion on the pitfalls of coming up in a fast-paced industry. BallerTV Chief Technology Officer Kavodel Ohiomoba, Zella Life CEO Remy Meraz and Supernatural's Vice President of People Operations Lynnette Scarratt and Elisabeth Tuttass, head of community at Grid110 all agreed that there's no one path to success.

Finding success is oftentimes a matter of seeking out the right people to help you.

"At the end of the day people are genuinely wanting to help people," said Meraz who runs the life coaching platform. "And I guarantee you within two degrees of separation, there's a connection and people are really willing to make introductions and help in any way they can."

It's not uncommon for even accomplished people to feel as if they aren't competent. Read more >>

Once a Moonshot, Los Angeles' Venture Scene is Bigger Than Ever

Los Angeles has long taken a back seat to San Francisco when it comes to investing in and incubating local companies, but in recent years the venture capital scene in Silicon Beach has exploded.

Greycroft Partners co-founder and partner Dana Settle told dot.LA co-founder Spencer Rascoff during the second annual dot.LA summit Friday that when she started Greycroft 15 years ago, her fellow investors in Northern California balked at her choice to leave the Bay Area and start investing in what was then a seldom talked-about market: Los Angeles. But since then, Settle's happily proved the haters wrong.

Settle told Rascoff that being an early investor in LA technology wasn't easy, and that over the years she also struggled to raise funding for Greycroft at first, which informs how she advises new companies.

Read more >>

Solving LA's Big Problem: How Metropolis Wants to Change Mobility 

By Ivan Fernandez

Metropolis co-founder Alex Israel has a grand plan to fix L.A.'s infrastructure. It just won't happen overnight.

Speaking to dot.LA co-founder Sam Adams during the "The Future of Urban Mobility" session out closed out dot.LA's summit, Israel described his vision of a complete repurposing of parking spaces and mobility that looks ahead at least 30 years into the future. Electric cars fit into this vision; rideshare companies do, too.

"Parking is the wild, wild west of real estate," said Israel. "It's a component of real estate that represents a large swath of the city that is non-institutionalized."

The startup raised $41 million in Series A financing earlier this year. It has parking garages throughout the U.S., in cities that include Los Angeles and Nashville.

Israel laid out three components that are at the core of Metropolis' work in understanding how to improve and empower the future they hope to create. The first is to understand the inventory of the facility in real time. The second is to have the ability to provision access to that facility in real time. Finally, one must be able to price inventory in real time.

"You have to understand the underlying infrastructure before you can repurpose the infrastructure," said Israel.

In a city as car-dependent as L.A., Israel will certainly have a lot of people rooting for his company's success.

"Getting around L.A. is one of the biggest obstacles to [Los Angeles] being, objectively, one of the nicest places on Earth to be," said Adams.

dot.LA Summit: Women at the Top on How to Expand LA's Tech Scene

As women in tech and venture, Kara Nortman and Robyn Ward heard a lot of nos when they started out. No we won't fund you. No, we don't have positions.

But, it was the yeses that kept them going.

"We have to expand the tent, we have to figure out how to continue. The tent needs to get bigger every day. If every one of us every day can find one more woman to bring into this tent, in some way it gets bigger and bigger," Nortman said.

Read more >>

dot.LA Summit: Telehealth Changed the Game for Health Care -- for Most

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, telehealth had been lauded as a great equalizer in the health care world.

The benefits were clear: It could help patients avoid travelling long distances and allow those with dependents to seek help without looking for childcare. And for poor neighborhoods and rural areas, where health care options are few and far between, telehealth could send specialists straight to their doors.

Those advantages have only become obvious during the pandemic, as executives from Honeybee Health, Advekit and Kenshō Health explained during dot.LA's panel "Telehealth: The New Way To Stay Healthy." The conversation was moderated by dot.LA's Rachel Uranga.

Read more >>

Going Beyond Lip Service

Pledges to boost diversity and inclusion are widespread in the tech and startup world, but the industry chronically fails to realize its own goals.

That's no coincidence. The venture capital world, which provides much of the capital fueling fledgling startups, remains a boys club with a bias towards white male founders. And that bias has a ripple effect, warping industry hiring practices and decision making. The problem is repelling workers, too, as post-lockdown resignations skyrocket and companies weigh new policies, such as remote work and hybrid schedules, to retain staffers.

"It's about being able to show up at work as your full self, said Ricardo Vazquez, executive officer at the mayor's Office of Economic Development, in a dot.LA Summit panel on building diversity and inclusion within startups and larger firms.

Read more >>

Pixar-Level Storytelling on Social Media

In just a few weeks, social media users can meet Jennifer Aniston's brand new 3D animated character—and though the avatar is mostly under wraps, word on the street is that it's "very cute." That character comes thanks to a partnership with Invisible Universe, an entertainment technology company partnering with celebrities to capitalize on their unique IP.

In a conversation with Rachel Horning (CEO of RippleFX Events), Invisible Universe CEO Tricia Biggio described the company as the "Pixar of the internet." The company creates beloved, celebrity-sponsored animated characters who live on social media and interact with fans.

Biggio, who started in television, is passionate about bringing Hollywood quality storytelling and worldbuilding to social media characters:

"We really think about being platform agnostic and story and character obsessed," she said. Pandemic isolation and scrolling was a boon for the company, with ten times the rate of growth on TikTok versus YouTube, Instagram and others.

Read more >>

How the Pandemic Changed Entertainment Tech Forever

By Ivan Fernandez

Like so many other industries, the world of entertainment went through some radical shifts during the pandemic. And, for the speakers at dot.LA's "The Evolution of the Digital Landscape in Shaping the Entertainment & Tech World" panel, that wasn't always a bad thing.

Take the music sector, for example. When the pandemic put a pause on live concerts—leaving musicians, promoters and stage crews without a main source of income—industry players pivoted to streaming.

"We found other ways to get our clients into people's homes, whether it was through a digital series or just releasing music in a more unconventional manner," said Allison Kaye, president of SB Projects. "Our clients really turned into content creators in a way that they hadn't been before."

"The need for kids content, especially digital-first, escalated tremendously as kids were stuck at home with nothing else to do except hang out on YouTube," added Kerry Tucker, chief marketing and franchise officer at pocket.watch, which works with kid stars/influencers on YouTube. "We actually saw a rise in our constant consumption, and then we also saw a rise in our consumer products."

Many artists, however, needed a helping hand when dabbling into the new digital space. That's where a company like Wave enters the picture. Wave is at the forefront of virtual entertainment, helping artists create virtual—and interactive—performances to livestream to viewers all over the world. "We are in this really cool, exciting space and everyone wants to get in on the action," said Tina Rubin, CMO at Wave. "In terms of the artists we work with, the way I think about it is virtual concept art. It's still evolving. We're still trying to figure out what is the art form and how does it encapsulate various types of performances?"

Technology can also help to strengthen traditional models such as the sale and purchase of a concert ticket. There are many issues that fans and promoters face when purchasing or selling a ticket. Scalpers use bots to scoop up tickets en masse and resell them on a secondary market. There's also the risk that a fan will purchase a fake ticket from a scammer. Tech such as blockchain and crypto can help with these challenges.

"Blockchain technology, crypto technology, can solve that," said Brent Weinstein, chief innovation officer & partner at United Talent Agency. "That's really, really exciting because that is a chance to completely change the nature of how people buy tickets to live events [and] how they relate to artists. That's a real life problem that people have been trying to solve for a long time and I finally have some hope that can be solved."

What It Takes to Transition From Founder to CEO

by Michaella Huck

A good founder will have a clear yet flexible vision. The same might be said of a good CEO. Still, there are plenty of differences between the two titles, as the speakers at dot.LA's "From Founder to CEO" discussion made clear.

"To be an entrepreneur you are the tip of the spear," said Boba Guys and Tea People USA founder and CEO Andrew Chau. "You want to be apologetic, you want to be authentic."

Chau chatted with KraveBeauty founder and CEO Liah Yoo about starting their businesses from the ground up. He said that as the company grew, he became much more than "a guy who owns a boba shop"; Yoo said she, too, morphed into something beyond a YouTube influencer.

"I call myself an accidental entrepreneur because I now have a skin care brand. Nowhere in my life did I ever think that I would be starting a company and second running a company," Yoo said.

One might assume a business' creator would spearhead its strategies, but that's often not the case. In fact, in a World Management Survey that looked at 212 startups over a 20-year period, only 50% of founders were still in control of their companies.

For Chau, the key lies in embracing both the micro- and macro-level problems. He said that though he has successfully transitioned into CEO, he sometimes can't help but treat his business like a grassroots operation, picking up trash he finds in front of his Boba Guys storefront in Culver City. Yet he's also often talking business strategies with other entrepreneurs over Zoom.

For Yoo, becoming a CEO was also an exercise in self-acceptance. "You keep comparing yourself to another CEO," she said. "I think the more I did that and then when we got started, I started to trick myself into this vicious cycle of 'I'm not good enough.'"

The Challenge of Finding Male Allies in Tech Circles

by Michaella Huck

Women-led startups made up just 2.3% of venture capital funding in 2020. In addition, only about 12.4% of decision makers at venture capital firms are women. Though these numbers have increased throughout the years, the industry is still very much a boys' club, and, as the women at dot.LA's "Elevating Your Presence as a Woman in Tech" panel discussed, it can be tough to break through the glass ceiling.

"We are talking into an echo chamber about our problems, so it is also going to require a man to help us change that," said Samantha Ettus, founder and CEO of Park Place Payments.

Ettus was joined by founder and CEO of Makelene, Dulma Altan; co-founder and CEO of Vurbl Media, Audra Gold; and Head of Community at How Women Invest, Sophie Nazerian. Their discussion was centered around how they have managed to navigate leadership and microaggressions from co-workers, all while climbing the corporate ladder as an anomaly in the tech world.

Ettus discussed how she has experienced microaggressions firsthand; she remembered being on a conference call with a bank executive when he mentioned he brought a guest: his daughter. Ettus thought it was sweet until he mentioned he wouldn't have put her on the screen if it were a male CEO because he would not want to be seen as less professional. Ettus reminded him he has the power to change that.

"It's always on our shoulders to speak up or to wrong the right or to have this panel where 90% of the attendees are women," she said.

The panelists also talked about the importance of finding a good work/life balance — something that doesn't always come naturally. "The biggest thing I'm proud of, I've learned that not everything is actually on fire," said Altan. "My ability to discern what actually is from what isn't has increased, and my mental health has stabilized."

dot.LA Summit: How Crypto Is Changing the Creative Industries

NFTs aren't just remaking investments but they are changing how entertainment is being produced and distributed.

Non fungible tokens were the focus of the panel with Scott Greenberg, CEO of Blockchain Creative Labs; Andrew Klungness, Partner at Fenwick & West LLP; and Michelle Munson, CEO of Eluvio.

"When you own an NFT, you actually own what we call a convertible electronic record on the blockchain. You own a space in a ledger," said Klungness. As an example, it's the difference between owning the record versus owning the commercial rights to the property, like owning a baseball card doesn't give you the right to use that image commercially.

Read more >>

Virtual Influencer Lil' Miquela Will Soon Be Run By Her Community

Dapper Labs, the company that helped bring NFTs into the mainstream, is set on decentralization. And it's turning to its signature virtual social media influencer Lil Miquela to drive home the idea, company executives told a crowd at Friday's Future of Storytelling panel at the dot.LA Summit.

The NFT startup behind NBA Top Shot, Dapper Labs clearly sees the value of virtual influencers. Brands are expected to spend about $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, according to Business Insider Intelligence. And the company is betting that a rising number of dollars will be spent on virtual influencers who can be fully controlled.

Read more >>

LA Investors on Tech Resilience and the Future of Work

Plenty of tech firms laid off workers as the pandemic took hold, but the industry ultimately raked in record profits as schools and offices spent big on remote tools and lockdowns drove shoppers toward digital services.

But there are challenges ahead for the startup community, like adapting to workers' evolving needs and expectations and building climate change mitigation into investment strategies.

Those were some of the takeaways from dot.LA's Town Hall panel on "rising from the COVID-19 ashes as a thriving startup ecosystem," which also explored how the virus is reshaping work. The talk was moderated by dot.LA CEO Sam Adams and featured Barber, RippleFX Events CEO Rachel Horning, Grid110 CEO Miki Reynolds, M13 partner Anna Barber and Leila Lee, of the mayor's Office of Economic Development.

Read more >>

Everlaunch Wins dot.LA's Startup Pitch Competition

A startup that offers gamified how-to guides for aspiring entrepreneurs was declared the winner of the second annual dot.LA pitch competition on Thursday in Santa Monica.

"My mission is to 'Pinky and the Brain' all of the currently available resources," said Everlaunch CEO Michelle Heng, referring to a cartoon where the main character was obsessed with taking over the world. Heng's service sets out to build a community for entrepreneurs and bring together essential business resources in a single hub.

Read more >>

Jam City's Josh Yguado on How the Blockchain WIll Change Gaming

At dot.LA's second annual summit, mobile game publisher Jam City's Chief Operating Officer Josh Yguado said he believes the next generation of mobile gaming will enable users to own parts of their favorite games on the blockchain.

"More than anything we're investing in where gaming is going, so we're making huge investments right now in augmented reality and cryptocurrency," Yguado said during the summit's fireside chat Thursday evening. "We've talked about the metaverse a bit today, but we're really thinking about where gaming is going to be two to three years from now."

Read more >>

What to Expect at This Year's In-Person Summit

dot.LA SummitThe Annual dot.LA Summit Kicks Off in Santa Monica

The two-day conference will begin with a pitch showcase competition for early-stage startup companies that have raised less than $1 million in funding. Judges for the event include Boba Guys and Tea People USA co-founder and CEO Andrew Chau, Worklife Venture Capital founder Brianne Kimmel and Plug and Play Ventures Associate Kiswana Browne. The winner will receive a prize package from Fenwick, Coda Search and TriNet.

The pitch competition will be followed by a fireside chat and podcast taping with Jam City co-founder & President Josh Yguado. Jam City isa leader in mobile entertainment and Yguado has proven himself a mastermind behind it, leading the company's operations, growth strategies and game portfolio.

While this event will be in person, the panels will be covered by dot.LA and those interested are still able to register for the conference here. Last year, the event drew over 500 guests virtually. This year's summit expects over 300 in-person guests. There is no livestream this year.

On Friday, the activities will begin at 9 a.m. An L.A. tech and startup town hall will focus on the tech and startup landscape as the effects of COVID-19 retreat. There will also be panels on the future of cryptocurrency and storytelling at this hour.

The afternoon's speakers will include United Talent Agency Chief Innovation Officer Brent Weinstein, BallerTV Chief Technology Officer Kavodel "Kav" Ohiomoba, KraveBeauty founder & CEO Liah Yoo, Makelane founder and CEO Dulma Altan and many other CEOs, technologists, founders and innovators.

Join us here and on Twitter and Instagram for updates from the summit. And let us know your thoughts using the hashtag #DOTLASUMMIT.

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

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