A TV Show Built for the Reddit-Fueled Investor Uprising Gets Funded

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

A TV Show Built for the Reddit-Fueled Investor Uprising Gets Funded
Photo by Ishant Mishra on Unsplash

A new television show about IPOs thinks it can help upend Wall Street's pecking order, much like Reddit users did.

"Going Public," a series that debuts this summer, will follow five companies over 10 weeks, culminating in NASDAQ IPOs in which viewers are encouraged to invest. It aims to turn living rooms across the country into a network of mini "Shark Tanks."

The show aimed at everyday investors comes just as the Reddit-and-Robinhood-fueled rise of GameStop shares sent notice to Wall Street that they ignore retail investors at their peril.

And it just got some investors of its own.

On Wednesday, Crush Capital, the L.A.-based fintech company behind the series, announced it will accelerate the show's development with a $3.25 million investment from over 30 investors, including Backstage Capital managing partner Arlan Hamilton, fashion brand Tory Burch co-founder Chris Burch and fintech company Acorns co-founder and chairman Walter Cruttenden.

Getting in on an IPO before a company goes public has traditionally been the preserve of investment banks, financial institutions and professional investors, but "Going Public" aims to bring early access to everyday investors.

Todd Goldberg and Darren Marble

Following the decision by Robinhood to restrict customer transactions, which has precipitated dozens of lawsuits, Crush Capital founders Darren Marble and Todd Goldberg see their initiative as more timely than ever.

"We're at a moment when retail brokerages have been exposed as serving Wall Street oligarchs," said Marble. "(Robinhood's) response has been disjointed and discombobulated and I think there's a clear opportunity for another firm to step in and truly advocate for middle-class Americans, which is the premise that our company was based on."

"Robinhood has a track record of lying to their customers," he added, pointing to a $65 million fine the SEC leveled against the company for misleading customers about how they make money.

Marble and Goldberg founded Beverly Hills-based Crush Capital in 2017 to push back against Wall Street privileges and cater to retail investors.

"We got sick and tired of seeing companies that we all know and love and are customers of – Uber, Lyft, Sonos, Beyond Meat, Aribnb, DoorDash, Pinterest – going public, but where we were locked out," said Goldberg. "We want to change that."

"Going Public" will allow viewers to access IPO and pre-IPO investment opportunities at the same terms as institutional investors and, in some cases, before the traditional players can get in.

The show will be broadcast on Entrepreneur.com, which claims 14 million unique monthly viewers. It is being produced by Emmy-nominated studio INE Entertainment, whose previous reality-show credits include "The Biggest Loser" and "MasterChef."

Lauren Simmons, the youngest-ever female trader on the New York Stock Exchange and second Black woman ever to hold such a role, will host and guide viewers through their investment decisions, Marble said.

Lauren Simmons is the youngest-ever female trader on the New York Stock Exchange and the host of "Going Public."

Lauren Simmons

Viewers will be able to invest in the companies of their choosing through a website, which will also include educational materials on risk-versus-reward and the IPO process, as well as disclosures that the companies will have to file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Marble and Goldberg said they will announce the five participating companies over the next few weeks. All of the companies, they said, are high-growth consumer product firms in operation for several years and with revenues between $20 million and $100 million.

"These companies are not desperate; this is not a last resort," said Marble. "They could do a Goldman Sachs-led Series A financing round or a SPAC, but they're turning those options down and leaning into 'Going Public' because we have something none of those options can offer, which is a mass marketing vehicle to help them create awareness for brands and products with millions of potential customers and investors all at the same time."

They've also prioritized finding diverse founders.

"It's shocking to me there's only been about 21 female founders who've taken their companies public," said Goldberg. "The first company we're going to announce has female, minority, immigrant founders. We're excited to feature them, and start changing the conversation through our actions so people can look and see and feel and understand what true entrepreneurship in the U.S. really looks like."

Participating companies will pay Crush Capital an upfront cash payment and stock compensation. Throughout the show they will receive mentorship from professional investors and executives, including early Priceline executive Jeff Hoffman and Schmidt's Naturals founder Jaime Schmidt.

Roth Capital Partners, an investment bank focused on small market-cap companies, will diligence, price and underwrite the IPOs.

The show is leveraging a relatively new way for companies to raise money. In 2012, Congress passed the JOBS Act, which eased securities regulations to make it less of a hassle for smaller companies to fundraise.

An amendment called Regulation A+ further enabled companies going public to raise up to $50 million from unaccredited investors. The change also loosened filing requirements, such as eliminating the "quiet period" wherein a firm must refrain from publicly disclosing information for a time leading up to the IPO.

Marble and Goldberg aren't concerned that the mounting political pressure for an updated regulatory response to the latest market madness will hurt "Going Public."

"These JOBS Act exemptions are tools that make it easier for small and emerging companies to access capital," Marble said. "That's a theme that the Biden administration is supporting in no unclear terms."

Marble added he's encouraged that in March the fundraising cap under Regulation A+ will increase to $75 million.

"We think we'll continue to see those caps increase over time," he said.

🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.

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Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.


Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle

Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out

Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities

Top Golf

Image Source: Topgolf

Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo

SoFi Stadium Tour

Image Source: Discover LA

A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours

Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch

Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.

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  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

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