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Big tech companies like Google and Microsoft are skipping CES 2022 in Las Vegas this week due to concerns over the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases, but the massive consumer tech expo is still an opportunity for Southern California tech firms to unveil new products. Among those at CES this week are Santa Monica-based micromobility company Bird and electric automaker Fisker. Read more >>

Here’s what else we're reading in the news:

What to Expect at CES 2022

By Decerry Donato

This year’s hybrid edition of CES, which runs Jan. 5-7, is a more abbreviated than the usual four-day affair. Still, more than 2,200 exhibitors, including major Southern California tech firms, are expected to attend in-person following last year’s virtual-only event. Additionally, attendees are being given complimentary COVID-19 self-testing kits.

Smash Ventures Raises $500 Million for New Fund

By Harrison Weber

Smash Ventures, a late-stage venture capital firm founded by former Disney executives, has raised $500 million for a new venture fund, according to a regulatory filing. The firm, led by co-founders and managing partners Eric Garland and Evan Richter, has backed Fortnite-creator Epic Games, sports betting giant DraftKings, conspicuously-named grooming brand Manscaped, and search engine DuckDuckGo.

Launch House Is Raising a $10 Million Fund

By Harrison Weber

Launch House, a startup accelerator inspired by the rise of content houses and TikTok mansions, is raising a $10 million venture fund. The company revealed its plans in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but has yet to disclose any actual money raised for the fund.

Amazon Backs Home Robotics Startup Labrador Systems' Seed Round

By Keerthi Vedantam

Calabasas-based Labrador Systems announced that it has raised an additional $3.1 million in seed funding led by Amazon and iRobot Ventures, bringing its total amount raised to date to $5.5 million. The funding will go toward growing the company’s engineering team and accelerating its manufacturing efforts.

How Ambercycle's CEO Hopes to Reinvent the Fashion Industry

By Camay Abraham

Los Angeles-based startup Ambercycle raised a $21.6 million Series A round to tackle one of the fashion industry's worst effects on the environment: the reliance on natural resources that put a strain the planet. Its new funding will go to ramping up production of the company’s fiber regenerative technology, which it created and piloted in a manufacturing plant Downtown.

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