J.J. Abrams on Diversity in Star Wars, Bad Robot: 'I Can't Tell You How Much it's Benefited Our Business'

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

J.J. Abrams on Diversity in Star Wars, Bad Robot: 'I Can't Tell You How Much it's Benefited Our Business'

Filmmaker J.J. Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath examined the production company they founded -- Bad Robot -- and realized it was mostly white. Mostly male. And the duo set out to change how they recruit new employees.

Abrams and McGrath mandated that the pool of people they interview for jobs be more representative of the population. Now over 50 percent of the staff is female and over 40 percent are people of color, according to McGrath. "I can't tell you how much it's benefited our business," said Abrams.


When he was asked to direct "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Abrams said he felt a responsibility to cast actors who were as diverse as possible. The four leads include someone who is Latinx, a Nigerian-Londoner, a white woman, and one white man. "I'm not preaching, but we'll bring our values as much as we can to a project," said Abrams.

McGrath was one of the founders of the Time's Up movement that started in 2018 after the dethroning of producer Harvey Weinstein rocked Hollywood. She implored an audience comprised largely of white males at The Upfront Summit to do more to improve diversity at their own companies."This is not complicated," said McGrath. "You have tactics for every other business outcome you want to reach, so have one for this."

McGrath noted that by 2050, the U.S. will be a minority-majority country. Not having a workforce that represents the demographics of consumers is bad for business. "You're just going to miss a ton of sh**," she added.

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Greater Good Health Raises $10 Million To Fix America’s Doctor Shortage

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Greater Good Health Raises $10 Million To Fix America’s Doctor Shortage
Courtesy of Greater Good Health

The pandemic highlighted what’s been a growing trend for years: Medical students are prioritizing high-paying specialty fields over primary care, leading to a shortage of primary care doctors who take care of a patient’s day-to-day health concerns. These physicians are a cornerstone of preventative health care, which when addressed can lower health care costs for patients, insurers and the government. But there’s a massive shortage of doctors all over the country, and the pipeline for primary care physicians is even weaker.

One local startup is offering a possible answer to this supply squeeze: nurse practitioners.

On Wednesday, Manhattan Beach-based Greater Good Health unveiled a $10 million Series A funding round led by LRVHealth, which adds to the startup’s $3 million seed round last year. The company employs nurse practitioners and pairs them with doctor’s offices and medical clinics; this allows nurse practitioners to take on patients who would otherwise have to wait weeks, or even months, to see a doctor.

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Plus Capital Partner Amanda Groves on Celebrity Equity Investments

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
PLUS Capital​’s Amanda Groves.
Courtesy of Amanda Groves.

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.

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Rivian Stock Roller Coaster Continues as Amazon Van Delivery Faces Delays

David Shultz

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 Stock Roller Coaster Continues as Amazon Van Delivery Faces Delays
Courtesy of Rivian.

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.

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