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FaZe Clan Announces New West Hollywood Pop-Up Shop
03:27 PM | May 02, 2022
Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.
Though it’s not an invite to FaZe Clan’s Burbank mansion, fans of the Los Angeles-based esports and entertainment organization will soon be able to plug themselves into its hype house vibes with the launch of a new pop-up store.
Founded in 2010, FaZe Clan has grown from a small group of gaming YouTubers into a conglomerate of professional esports games, celebrity investors and brand partnerships.
Open during select times and days from May 14 to June 10, The Armory—located at the primo L.A. retail coordinates of Melrose and Fairfax—will be FaZe Clan's first-ever immersive gaming lounge and retail store, the company said in a statement Monday. Livestream shopping platform and FaZe Clan partner NTWRK will oversee the store, designed by FaZe's newly-appointed creative director Jay "JVY" Richardson.
Operating in both physical and digital realms, The Armory will sell FaZe Clan’s custom gaming products and merchandise. Some of the drops will necessitate actually being physically present at the store—a page taken from the playbook of its new retail neighbor, Supreme.
The Armory will also host tournaments and events for the length of its installation, giving fans an opportunity to experience the events that FaZe Clan is known for. Different showrooms will host retail offerings, esports gaming setups and a central screen for console gaming.
“Our approach with this pop-up is showing the fans what's next and where we're at in the future already,” Richardson said in a statement. “The store itself is essentially the vortex entry point and it's being conveyed through the graphics of all the featured items you'll see.”
While this move is set to get the blood of FaZe’s millions of young fans pumping, it may be a smokescreen masking legitimate concerns about the financial state of its business. After announcing plans to go public in a merger with a valuation of $1 billion last year and jumping the gun by adding Snoop Dogg to its board of directors, Sports Business Journal reported last week that SEC filings revealed FaZe to be operating under heavier losses than they’d originally claimed.
The amendment showed FaZe’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) currently sits at an adjusted loss of nearly $29 million. (The brand’s original estimated EBITDA showed a $19 million loss.) And since the December 31 deadline for its merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsored by investment bank B. Riley has blown by, FaZe will be unable to access the 75% of proceeds from the SPAC’s $173 million trust account and a planned $118 million private investment in public equity (PIPE) investment it was counting on, SBJ reported.
Meaning: FaZe isn’t making anywhere near enough money to sustain its costs—and with no way to tap into investment funds, the only thing it’s managed to raise is skepticism that FaZe is esports first real unicorn.
Whether or not a flashy pop-up like The Armory can generate enough money to keep a household of gaming influencers in their accustomed lifestyles—let alone sway a market that’s seen scores of SPAC mergers terminated amid bearish market conditions—is anyone’s guess.
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06:00 AM | December 12, 2022
Photo courtesy of Ford
Pacific Gas and Electric is in the midst of enrolling customers into an ambitious new pilot program that seeks to use electric car vehicles as a means of powering daily life and stabilizing the grid.
The “Vehicle to Everything” pilot envisions a future in which automobiles not only draw their power from the electrical grid but can also strategically add electricity back in when demand is high — and generate some money for their owners along the way.
The concept of bidirectional energy flow using EV batteries isn’t new, and dot.LA has covered various vehicle-to-grid endeavors in the past. But having a utility company as large as PG&E onboard could begin to transform the idea into a reality.
Though the program’s website has been live for a few weeks, PG&E officially began to invite customers to pre-enroll starting on December 6th. The pilot has space for 1,000 residential customers and 200 commercial customers. PG&E isn’t releasing the numbers for how many people have signed up so far, but Paul Doherty, a communications architect at the company, says he expects the enrollment period to take several months, stretching into Q1 2023.
On the residential side, customers can receive financial incentives up to $2,500 just for enrolling in the pilot. That money, says Doherty, goes towards the cost of installing a bidirectional charger at the customer’s residence. The cost of installation varies according to the specifications of the residence, but Doherty says it’s unlikely that $2,500 will cover the full cost for most users, though it may come close, with most installations ranging in the low thousands.
But there’s more money to be had as well. Once the bidirectional charger is installed, customers can not only use the electricity to power their homes but also begin selling electricity back to the grid during flex alerts. Southern California residents may remember back in September when the electric grid was pushed to its breaking point thanks to an historic heatwave. During such events–or any other disaster that strains the system–customers can plug their vehicle in, discharge the battery and get paid.
Doherty says that users can expect to make between $10 and $50 per flex alert depending on how severe the event is and how much of their battery they’re willing to discharge. That might not seem like a huge sum, but the pilot program is slated to last two years. Meaning that if California averages 10 flex alerts per year like in 2022, customers could make $1,000. That could be enough to offset the rest of the bidirectional charger installation or provide another income stream. Not to mention, help stabilize our beleaguered grid.
There is one gigantic catch, however. PG&E has to test and validate any bi-directional charger before it can be added into the program. So far, the only approved hardware is Ford’s Charge Station Pro, meaning only one vehicle–the F-150 Lightning–can participate in the program. That should change soon as the utility company tests additional hardware from other brands. Doherty says they’re expecting to add the Nissan LEAF, Hyundai’s IONIQ 5, the KIA EV6 and others soon since it’s just a matter of testing and integrating those chargers into the program.
One name notably absent from that list is Tesla. So far, the country’s largest EV presence hasn’t announced concrete plans for bidirectional charging, meaning there’s no way for Tesla owners to participate in the pilot.
“We hope they come to the table as soon as possible,” says Doherty. “That would be a game changer.”
The commercial side of the pilot looks similar to the residential. Businesses receive cash incentives upfront to help offset the cost of installing bidirectional charger and then get paid for their contribution to stabilizing the grid in times of duress. PG&E says electric school bus fleets, especially, represent attractive targets for this technology due to their large battery capacity, high peak power needs, and predictable schedule–a strategy that mirrors what V2G pioneer Nuvve described to dot.LA back in October.
If California’s plan to transition all new car sales to electric by 2035 actually succeeds — which would require it to add nearly two million new EVs to state roads every year — that’s two million rolling, high power batteries with the potential to power our homes, our jobs and the grid at large. Getting there will be a colossal undertaking, but PG&E’s pilot should be a litmus test of sorts, assuming they can figure out how to get more vehicles than the Ford Lightning into the program.
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David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.
10:04 AM | December 20, 2022
Earlier this year, Kaylee Zhu, a portfolio manager at Actuarial Management Corporation (AMC), was pouring over documents when she noticed that Black Rifle Coffee, a corporation both AMC and many of their investment clients are stakeholders in, was in breach of contract. She brought the matter to AMC Holdings CEO Jonathan Wallentine who decided to file a lawsuit against Black Rifle Coffee in May, accusing the coffee company of securities fraud.
It was, however, only after AMC had spent $100,000 on lawyers and countless hours drafting the lawsuit, that Zhu learned there was a similar lawsuit, from a different company, already in the works. “It was the first time we realized that, oh, it's actually hard for people to find a complaint,” said Zhu.
So Wallentine wondered, “Why did we just pay $100,000 to draft this when we have the same exact complaint? We could have saved a pile of money, because it's just a copy and paste.”
That’s when he and Zhu decided to create a public platform that houses information about legal complaints in one place. Or, Google for lawsuits. That’s the best way to describe laWow, a digital search engine designed to serve the public by providing access to records of lawsuits and legal complaints. Earlier this month, laWow closed a $1.75 million funding round to continue bettering their platform.
“What we're building is we're putting all the information out there that doesn't exist online,” said Wallentine.
Wallentine and Zhu hope that laWow will help others avoid the headache of redoing work that already exists. By presenting all of the legal facts about a corporation including any existing legal actions brought against it, laWow helps people decide how they want to structure their own lawsuit.
“So, the real big idea is, 'why does this still have to be such a shadowy black market, when the public is entitled to this information, and it would actually do a lot more to benefit society, if [people] could actually read other complaints that are similar and be more knowledgeable?'” Wallentine said.
laWow works in the same way Google does — by prioritizing the information the user is searching for as the top results. Users can search lawsuits by corporation name or by using keywords, and the site will present all of the claims against that company in a growing database of more than 260,000 lawsuits.
“So when you search, like, ‘McDonald's sexual harassment,’ for example, you're going to get the top read result,” Wallentine explained comparing laWow to a micro internet. He added that, “Each complaint has its own website.”
Beyond the practical applications for journalists, civilians, and courts, Wallentine also thinks laWow will be immensely helpful to investors.
“So right now you have a situation where stock investors — they're buying into companies that have massive litigation and lawsuits against them and don't even disclose to their own owners that they exist,” he said. “So a lot of the [laWow site] traffic is like stock investors saying, ‘I'm not going to buy into this company unless I can at least go through laWow and check to see how many lawsuits are filed against them.’”
So, the next time you are interested in investing in a company, or curious about their morals, maybe check laWow. The evidence you find might surprise you.
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Andria is the Social and Engagement Editor for dot.LA. She previously covered internet trends and pop culture for BuzzFeed, and has written for Insider, The Washington Post and the Motion Picture Association. She obtained her bachelor's in journalism from Auburn University and an M.S. in digital audience strategy from Arizona State University. In her free time, Andria can be found roaming LA's incredible food scene or lounging at the beach.
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