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Harri is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. She previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find her on Twitter and send tips on L.A. startups and venture capital to email@example.com.
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Battlebound, the stealth gaming startup behind the anonymously launched Web3 game Evaverse, has raised more than $4.8 million in funding and is gearing up to bring its first title to mobile devices, dot.LA has learned.
Backed by at least 14 unnamed investors, according to a filing with the SEC, the Los Angeles-based company is led by founder and CEO Adam Hensel, a former Riot Games technical artist known pseudonymously as Damos. Battlebound’s team also includes former Riot Games concept artist David Ko, per Ko’s Twitter account.
While little else is known about the gaming startup’s founding team, a teaser page shows that they’ve previously worked on titles such as Riot’s “League of Legends,” ArenaNet’s “Guild Wars,” Blizzard’s “Overwatch 2” and Rovio’s “Angry Birds.”
An “Evaverse” character spins a machine for a potential prize.Courtesy of Battlebound
Evaverse, which Battlebound has dubbed a “best in class play-to-earn wonderland,” is part of a wave of blockchain games that reward players with crypto tokens and use NFTs as playable characters. The priciest Evaverse NFT—a bald, magenta-bearded, Thanos-esque character named Yolo McSwagginz—is listed on the NFT marketplace OpenSea for 120 Ethereum, or more than $348,000 as of press time.
Battlebound has described Evaverse as being built for a community of “blockchain players, traditional gamers, and NFT collectors” alike. The game is currently available on both PC and Mac via the Steam gaming platform, while its Discord community features more than 7,000 members.
Though new blockchain gaming entrants like Battlebound and L.A-based Artie seem to launch on a weekly basis, last year the NFT gaming scene was largely dominated by one particular title: “Axie Infinity,” which was launched by Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis in 2018 and reportedly accounted for nearly two-thirds of all gaming NFT transactions last year.
Representatives for Battlebound declined to comment.
- Artie Mobile Gaming and NFT Startup Raises $35.9 Million - dot.LA ›
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On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, Amanda Groves talks about how PLUS Capital advises celebrity investors and why more high-profile individuals are choosing to invest instead of endorse.
As a partner at PLUS, Groves works with over 70 artists and athletes, helping to guide their investment strategies. PLUS advises their talent roster to combine their financial capital with their social capital and focus on five investment areas: the future of work, future of education, health and wellness, the conscious consumer and sustainability.
“The idea is if we can leverage these people who have incredible audiences—and influence over that audience—in the world of venture capital, you'd be able to help make those businesses move forward faster,” Groves said.
PLUS works to create celebrity partnerships by identifying each client’s passions and finding companies that align with them, Groves said. From there, the venture firm can reach out to prospective partners from its many contacts and can help evaluate businesses that approach its clients. Recently, PLUS paired actress Nina Dobrev with the candy company SmartSweets after she had told them about her love for its snacks.
Celebrity entrepreneurship has shifted quite a bit in recent years, Groves said. While celebrities are paid for endorsements, Groves said investing allows them to gain equity from the growth of companies that benefit from their work.
“Like in movies, for example, where they're earning a residual along the way, they thought, ‘You know, if we're going to partner with these brands and create a tremendous amount of enterprise value, we should be able to capture some of the upside that we're generating, too’,” she said.
Partnering in this way also allows her clients to work with a wider range of brands, including small brands that often can’t afford to spend millions on endorsements. Investing allows high-profile individuals to represent brands they care about, Groves said.
“The last piece of the puzzle was a drive towards authenticity,” Groves said. “A lot of these high-profile artists and athletes are not interested, once they've achieved some sort of level of success, in partnering with brands that they don't personally align with.”
dot.LA Editorial Intern Kristin Snyder contributed to this post.
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.
Rivian’s stock lost 7% yesterday on the back of news that the company could face delays in fulfilling Amazon’s order for a fleet of electric delivery vans due to legal issues with a supplier. The electric vehicle maker is suing Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) over a pricing dispute related to the seats that the supplier promised, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The legal issue could mean that Amazon may not receive their electric vans on time. The dispute hinges on whether or not Commercial Vehicle Group is allowed to raise the prices of its seats after Rivian made engineering and design changes to the original version. Rivian says the price hike from CVG violates the supply contract. CVG denies the claim.
Regardless, the dispute could hamper Rivian’s ability to deliver electric vans to Amazon on time. The ecommerce/streaming/cloud computing/AI megacorporation controls an 18% stake in Rivian as one of the company’s largest early investors. Amazon has previously said it hopes to buy 100,000 delivery vehicles from Rivian by 2030.
The stock plunge marked another wild turn for the EV manufacturer. Last week, Rivian shares dropped 21% on Monday after Ford, another early investor, announced its intent to sell 8 million shares. The next few days saw even further declines as virtually the entire market saw massive losses, but then Rivian rallied partially on the back of their earnings report on Wednesday, gaining 28% back by Friday. Then came yesterday’s 7% slide. Today the stock is up another 10%.
Hold on tight, who knows where we’re going next.
Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.
Some Snap Kit platform developers have skirted guidelines meant to make the app safer for children.
A new report from TechCrunch released Tuesday found that some third-party apps that connect to users’ Snap accounts have not been updated according to new guidelines announced in March. The restrictions, which target anonymous messaging and friend-finding apps, are meant to increase child safety. However, the investigation found a number of apps either ignore the new regulations or falsely claim to be integrated with Snapchat.
The Santa Monica-based social media company announced the changes after facing two separate lawsuits related to teen suicide allegedly caused by the app. Over 1,500 developers integrate Snap features like the camera and Bitmojis. Snap originally claimed the update would not affect many apps.
Developers had 30 days to revise their software, but the investigation found that some apps, such as the anonymous Q&A app Sendit, were granted an extension. Others blatantly avoided the changes—the anonymous messaging app HMU, which is now meant for adult users, is still available to users "9+" in the App Store. Certain apps that have been banned from Snap, like Intext, still advertise Snapchat integration.
“First and foremost, we put the privacy and safety of our community first and expect the products built by our developer community to adhere to that standard in addition to bringing fun and positive experiences to people,” Director of Platform Partnerships Alston Cheek told TechCrunch.
The news is a blow to Snap’s recent efforts to cast itself as a responsible social media platform The company recently announced Colleen DeCourcy would take over as the company’s new chief creative officer and CEO Evan Spiegel to recently made a a generous personal donation to graduates of Otis College of Art and Design. The social media company currently faces a lawsuit from a teenager who claims it has not done enough to protect minors from sexual exploitation. In April, 44 attorney generals sent a letter to Snap and TikTok urging the companies to strengthen parental controls.
Lawmakers are considering new policies that would hold social media companies accountable for the content on their platforms. One such bill would require social media companies to share data with independent researchers.
Snap Inc., Snapchat's parent company, is an investor in dot.LA.