L.A. Tech Updates: L.A. Seed Rounds Are Getting Bigger; the Future of Facial Recognition Technology

Here are the latest updates on news affecting Los Angeles' startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for more.

Today:

  • Anaheim's 'Star Wars' Celebration is Canceled
  • L.A. Congressman Looks to Limit Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology
  • L.A. Seed Rounds Are Getting Bigger

    Anaheim's 'Star Wars' Celebration is Canceled

    www.starwarscelebration.com

    Chalk up another disappointment to the coronavirus. The organizers of Anaheim's 'Star Wars Celebration' are calling it off this year, due to concerns about hosting an indoor event in the midst of a global pandemic. Would-be attendees can exchange their tickets for the 2022 event (plus a limited edition stormtrooper pin), trade them for merch or get a refund. You can find more information at their website.

    L.A. Congressman Looks to Limit Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology

    Amazon, IBM and Microsoft either pulled sales of their facial recognition technology to law enforcement or halted their business last week as pressure from civil rights leaders, companies and legislators grew over how the surveillance technologies were being used.

    The issue has played out for years in the Los Angeles communities Congressman Jimmy Gomez represents. Activists regularly object to the use of technology that has the potential to exacerbate racial bias. Now, it has exploded anew on the national stage in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests.

    Gomez, who sits on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, told Politico last week he's drafting legislation that would place restrictions on local and state police from using the technology.

    "If facial recognition is considered the future of policing, it's just going to perpetuate the same biases that are already out there because it's in and of itself is biased," he told VentureBeat in a separate interview. "It's been flawed. It's been shown to be flawed and can [misidentify] people of color, mainly black women, Latinos, African Americans — and the darker the skin color, the more mistakes it makes. That's going to lead to more negative interactions between law enforcement and people of color, which can lead to deadly consequences."

    Gomez told the outlet Amazon gave him the run around as Congress probed the issue.

    "We need them to cooperate and give us data so we can be better informed on how to craft this legislation," he said. "If not, we'll just work with the civil rights groups, and we'll just try to pass it through, and they're going to most likely try to oppose it, in my opinion, at the end of the day if they don't like it."

    L.A. Seed Rounds Are Getting Bigger

    Image from Amplify.LA

    In the first quarter of this year, 19 Los Angeles startups raised seed rounds of more than $2.5 million. The average seed round raised was $4 million, according to Amplify.LA's latest LA Seed Report.

    "While nothing new for larger ecosystems like SF and NY, it's a relatively new phenomenon here in L.A.," wrote Conner Sundberg, an associate at Amplify.LA.

    Amplify also found seed activity in Q1'20 was nearly double that of Q1'19. 38 companies closed seed rounds in the first quarter while fintech re-emerged as one of the top dealmaking sectors.

    "Since starting this project years back, we've noted more funds being raised in L.A., a higher percentage of capital coming from local investors, and early stage teams tackling more varied verticals," wrote Sundberg.

    — Ben Bergman

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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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    LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec

    Decerry Donato

    Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

    LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec
    Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

    “Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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