EV-Maker Fisker Says Its Losses Are Shrinking As It Prepares to Reveal Its New SUV

Zac Estrada

Zac Estrada is a reporter covering transportation, technology and policy. A former reporter for The Verge and Jalopnik, his work has also appeared in Automobile Magazine, Autoweek, Pacific Standard, Boston.com and BLAC Detroit. A native of Southern California, he is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston. You can find him on Twitter at @zacestrada.

EV-Maker Fisker Says Its Losses Are Shrinking As It Prepares to Reveal Its New SUV
Zac Estrada

Fisker Inc. is plotting a November debut of its electric SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show and accelerating development of its small car, executives told investors Thursday.

The Manhattan Beach-based electric vehicle startup is being buoyed by President Biden's executive order calling to have half of all new cars sales be plug-in vehicles by 2030.

Fisker reported a $53.1 million loss for the second quarter of 2021, roughly a third of the losses it posted in the first quarter. It says it beat internal expectations, but also noted the previous quarter reflected more spending on staffing and engineering on the two vehicles, and the company could show increased spending later in the year.

Fisker's stock closed Thursday at $15.53, up 5.29%.

The call is in the run-up to the anticipated reveal in November of the company's first product, the Ocean EV SUV, at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Founder and CEO Henrik Fisker said it was on track for a Nov. 17, 2022 start of production with its partner, Magna Steyr, in Austria.

On Wednesday, the New York Auto Show, set to start Aug. 20, was canceled due to the rise in cases and hospitalizations. Fisker said if the L.A. Auto Show is shut down, he has a contingency plan that would include a smaller company event around the same time.

Fisker projects 25,000 reservations by the end of 2021 and 50,000 by the time production starts. But the company admitted there has been a slowdown in reservations, and attributed this to the lack of new details on the Ocean before November.

The $37,500 Ocean is expected to reach a few buyers in the U.S. and Europe in 2022, and reach full production in 2023 when the company projects the factory in Austria will produce 5,000 of the SUVs per month. It will be available in three variants with different levels of equipment and power, with prices going up to $60,000 before EV incentives.

But Fisker, the former Aston Martin and BMW designer, said design will sell the Ocean and all EVs going forward.

"It was about how the engine sounds, how the gears felt. Those things are going away," Fisker said. "Who wants to drive a boring dorky car if you can get a good car for the same price?"

Fisker also reported that its sub-$30,000 Project PEAR small EV, first announced in February, is approaching a new phase of its development for a 2023 launch. The company says this and the other two models that Fisker plans to produce by 2025 will use components, software and testing methods created for the Ocean.

Developed with Foxconn, known for manufacturing Apple products, the PEAR is expected to be built in the U.S., but Fisker still has announced a location.

In Biden's address on Thursday, he was surrounded by General Motors CEO Mary Barra and representatives from the United Auto Workers, among others. Biden asked consumers to buy American and support unionized workers.

While Fisker's first car won't be made in the U.S., he still supports Biden's mandate and wants continued federal support for EV incentives and dismissed concerns that it would create more competition from larger automakers.

"Even if someone said today 'we're going to go full speed on EVs,' you're probably looking at 2026 onwards," before the product goes to market, he said. "I would expect the Biden administration to put a lot of pressure on that the next four years and that's when we're launching our vehicles."

Fisker's report comes ahead of crosstown startup rival Canoo Inc.'s second-quarter earnings report on August 16.

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Derek Jeter’s Sports Trading Card Company Brings in $10M

Kristin Snyder

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.

sports trading cards
Arena Club /Andria Moore

Sports trading card platform Arena Club has raised $10 million in Series A funding.

Co-founded by CEO Brian Lee and Hall of Fame Yankees player Derek Jeter, Arena Club launched its digital showroom in September. Through the platform, sports fans can buy, sell, trade and display their card collections. Using computer vision and machine learning, Arena Club allows fans to grade and authenticate their cards, which can be stored in the company’s vault or delivered in protective “slabs.” Arena Club intends to use the new cash to expand these functions and scale its operations.

The new funding brings Arena Club’s total amount raised to $20 million. M13, defy.vc, Lightspeed Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures and BAM Ventures contributed to the round.

“Our team is thankful for the group of investors—led by M13, who see the bright future of the trading card hobby and our platform,” Lee said in a statement. “I have long admired M13 and the value they bring to early-stage startups.”

M13’s co-founder Courtney Reum, who formed the early-stage consumer technology venture firm in 2016 alongside his brother Carter Reum, will join Arena Club’s board. Reum has been eyeing the trading card space since 2020 when he began investing in what was once just a childhood hobby.

The sports trading card market surged in 2020 as fans turned to the hobby after the pandemic brought live events to a standstill. Since then, prices have come down, though demand remains high. And investors are still betting on trading card companies, with companies like Collectors bringing in $100 million earlier this year. Fanatics, which sells athletic collectibles and trading cards, reached a $31 billion valuation after raising $700 million earlier this week. On the blockchain, Tom Brady’s NFT company Autograph lets athletes sell digital collectibles directly to fans.

As for Arena Club, the company is looking to cement itself as a digital card show.

“Providing users with a digital card show allows us to use our first-class technology to give collectors from all over the world the luxury of being able to get the full trading card show experience at their fingertips,” Jeter said in a statement.

Hosts Who Rent From “Airbnb-Friendly” LA Apartments May Not Make a Profit

Amrita Khalid
Amrita Khalid is a tech journalist based in Los Angeles, and has written for Quartz, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Inc. Magazine and number of other publications. She got her start in Washington, D.C., covering Congress for CQ-Roll Call. You can send tips or pitches to amrita@dot.la or reach out to her on Twitter at @askhalid.
LA house

L.A.’s lax enforcement of Airbnbs has led to an surge of illegal short-term rentals — even four years after the city passed a regulation to crack down on such practices. But what if hosts lived in a building that welcomed Airbnb guests and short-term rentals?

That’s the idea behind Airbnb’s new push to expand short-term rental offerings. The company is partnering with a number of corporate landlords that agreed to offer “Airbnb-friendly” apartment buildings, reported The Wall Street Journal last week. According to the report, the new service will feature more than 175 buildings managed by Equity Residential, Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC and 10 other companies that have agreed to clear more than 175 properties nationwide for short-term rentals.

But prospective hosts in Los Angeles who decide to rent apartments from Airbnb’s list of more than a dozen “friendly” buildings in the city likely won’t earn enough to break even due to a combination of high rents, taxes and city restrictions on short-term rentals. Rents on one-bedroom apartments in most of the partnered buildings listed soared well over $3,000 a month. Only a few studios were available under the $2,000 price range. If a host were to rent a one bedroom apartment with a monthly rent of $2,635 (which amounts to $31,656 annually), they would have to charge well over the $194 average price per night for Los Angeles (which amounts to $23,280 per year) according to analytics platform AllTheRooms.

Either way, residents who rent one of these Airbnb friendly apartments still have to apply for a permit through the City of Los Angeles in order to host on Airbnb.

“[..Airbnb-friendly buildings] seems like a good initiative. However, from a quick look, it seems that given the rent, Airbnb revenue wouldn’t be enough to cover all expenses if the host follows the city’s policy,” says Davide Proserpio, assistant professor of marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business.

In addition, since L.A.’s 120-day cap on short-term rentals still applies to the buildings on Airbnb’s listing platform, that greatly limits the number of longer-term guests a resident can host. Not to mention, some of the buildings that Airbnb lists have even shorter limits – The Milano Lofts in DTLA for example only allows residents to host 90 nights a year.

Airbnb’s calculations of host earnings may be greatly misleading as well, given that the estimate doesn’t include host expenses, taxes, cleaning fees or individual building restrictions. For example, Airbnb estimates that a resident of a $3,699 one bedroom apartment at the Vinz in Hollywood that hosts 7 nights a month can expect $1,108 a month in revenue if they host year-round. But the Vinz only allows hosts to rent 90 days a year, which greatly limits the potential for subletters and a consistent income stream.

Keep in mind too that since the apartment will have to serve as the host’s “primary residence”, hosts will have to live there six months out of the year. All of which is to say, it’s unclear how renting an apartment in an “Airbnb-friendly” building makes hosting easier — especially in a city where illegal short-term rentals already seem to be the norm.


The Streamys Reveals The Disconnect Between Online Creators and Traditional Media

Kristin Snyder

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.

tiktok influencers around a trophy ​
Andria Moore /Charli D'Amelio/Addison Rae/JiDion

Every year, the Streamy Awards, which is considered the top award show within the creator economy, reveals which creators are capturing the largest audiences. This past Sunday, the event, held at The Beverly Hilton, highlighted some of the biggest names in the influencer game, chief among them Mr. Beast and Charli D’Amelio. It had all the trappings of a traditional award show—extravagant gowns, quippy acceptance speeches and musical interludes. But, as TikTok creator Adam Rose told The Washington Post, the Streamys still lacks the legitimacy of traditional award shows.

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