Weekly Tech Round Up: LA's Electric Vehicle Incentives

Eric Zassenhaus
Eric Zassenhaus is dot.LA's managing editor for platforms and audience. He works to put dot.LA stories in front of the broadest audience in the best possible way. Prior to joining dot.LA, he served as an editorial and product lead at Pacific Standard magazine and at NPR affiliate KPCC in Los Angeles. He has also worked as a news producer, editor and art director. Follow him on Twitter for random thoughts on publishing and L.A. culture.
Weekly Tech Round Up: LA's Electric Vehicle Incentives
Image by Ian Hurley

This week in L.A. tech and startup news: Fintech Dave announced plans to go public via a SPAC. LegalZoom filed for an IPO. Lightspeed bought SoCal retail sites Ecwid and NuORDER, and startups Dispo, StoryFile, ImaginAb and Relativity Space raised funding.

LA's EV Incentives Explained

Southern California residents — especially those living in L.A. — are well positioned to take advantage of rebates and incentives for electric vehicles. In addition to the $1,500 California Clean Fuel Reward and $7,500 maximum federal EV tax credit, L.A. residents can get a $500 rebate toward the purchase of home chargers through the the LADWP.

Techstars' New Space Startups

Techstars' Space Accelerator took off this week with its third class of space-related companies. They make everything from AI-powered smart cameras to technology that can anticipate celestial collisions. Get to know them here.

BallerTV's Plan to Let High School Athletes Earn

Should high school athletes be able to make money from endorsements? Youth sports streaming platform BallerTV is creating NFTs for student athletes. The organization that writes the rules for high school sports says it will "completely disrupt the high school environment."

A New Marketplace for Creative Educators

Encantos, the L.A.-based children's book publisher-turned-edtech startup, plans to include a creator platform on its learning app that will roll out this fall. "Where Roblox as a creator platform connects gamers and developers, we're going to be connecting creators and kids," its CEO says.

Fisker's Climate Neutral Car

Henrik Fisker announced plans for what could be the world's first "climate neutral" vehicle, a car that will be built with the lowest-possible effect on the environment — from how the parts are sourced and assembled to the way it's charged and recycled. "We will prioritize partners with stated pledges to achieve climate neutrality," Fisker said.

How NFTs Are Changing Gaming

What if in-game purchases were also an investment for gamers? Los Angeles-based Mythical Games is bringing NFTs into the gaming world, raising concerns for some that game developers will focus more on the investment opportunity and less on the quality of gameplay.

Vaccination Proof (Not 'Passports')

As L.A. reopens, businesses will have to choose how (or whether) to verify their customers are vaccinated. The county has partnered with Healthvana to offer Angelenos digital cards they can use to share their vaccination record without losing or damaging the physical copy.

Talking to the Past Using AI

Los Angeles startup StoryFile creates interactive videos that archive personal stories and parse them using artificial intelligence, allowing future audiences to ask subjects questions about their lives — including, most recently, the two living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.


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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.

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