LA Tech Week: The Future of Art, TikTok and Takeout

Ilana Gordon
Ilana Gordon is an entertainment, culture, and tech writer originally from Connecticut. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
People mingling in a lounge
Courtesy of Ilana Gordon

Food & Tech: Lunch and Network

I’m standing on the sidewalk in Santa Monica, waiting for my lunch, when a Coco robot rolls past. “Human operated,” reads the sign on the delivery bot’s back. “Zero emissions.”

The robot doesn’t know it, but it just had a drive-by encounter with another member of the food tech community: Stas Matviyenko, founder of Allset. He’s standing outside The Hive - Organic Cafe & Superfood Bar, directing people to a QR code to download his app, which he hopes will one day become the de facto choice for people ordering food for pickup.

Matviyenko says he’s not trying to compete with UberEats or Postmates. By eliminating delivery from his business model, his company is able to lower prices and operate more efficiently. More importantly, Allset is focused on a different audience. Allset, Matviyenko says, is for people who want to get out of the house.

Their company story can be told in three parts: before, during and after COVID. Before Covid, Allset’s primary demographic was hungry people in financial districts ordering lunch. During COVID, that user-base was wiped out, but replaced with increased activity in suburban areas. Today, the financial district audience is slowly returning, and activity in suburban areas continues to grow.

Allset is available in major cities nationwide.

AR/VR, Virtual Production + VFX Happy Hour

“Accessibility” is a word I hear over and over this week, and it pops up again during the AR/VR virtual production + VFX Happy Hour.

I’m chatting with Thomas Suarez, one of the co-founders of Teleportal, a spatial computing company based in Culver City. They’re about to release a new version of their app, Movieoke, which aims to bring 3D animation to creators in a way that is both collaborative and remixable.

(Teleportal expects Movieoke will be available for download in the app store within a few weeks.)

Suarez lets me demo the app as he explains that the current process of creating 3D animation is complex. There’s a steep learning curve, and because animation requires powerful, expensive computers, accessibility and collaboration are both key issues.

I’m playing around with the app’s beta version, attempting to use my finger to make one of the characters in our two-shot jump up and down. Suarez walks me through changing camera angles and replacing the backdrop. He takes a photo of the happy hour taking place on the floor below us, and layers our characters on top of the image. It’s the lazy girl’s approach to animation and I am loving it.

Suarez is most excited about an upcoming version of the app which will enable remixing. When TikTok users see a Movieoke video they like, they can use a QR code to reopen it in the app, download all the source assets, re-edit them, and reupload the newly remixed video back to social media. Suarez hopes this new tech will ensure digital creators receive credit for their work.

Animation is at a boiling point. After years of low wages and lack of transparency regarding what happens to content after it’s created, animators are raising concerns in union negotiations, the media and online.

I ask Tom if he thinks Movieoke will supplement current animation techniques or supplant them.

“I think there’s room in the market for a lot of different types of tools,” he says. “We don’t see [this] as replacing the way 3D animation is done in the short-term…this is creating another market.”

SHOW OUT @ QSLA hosted by Lola Menthol with Qrypto Queer

By the time I reach Quantum Space LA, a community hub hidden behind a storefront on Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade, I am tired. Tech Week is a grind, and I accidentally sprinted the marathon.

It’s a bad night to lose steam, because Show Out (hosted by Lola Menthol and Qrypto Queer) promises to be a banger of an event. There’s a scheduled panel discussion, music, dance and poetry performances, plus a room full of incredible art to look at.

I arrive early enough that the space is still filling up. There’s not yet a line at the bar, and no one is taking advantage of the poster boards and Mr. Sketch markers the organizers set out for attendees to doodle on.

I wend my way through tables laden with pizza boxes and Hawaiian Haze joints to look at the different TV screens hung throughout the room, showcasing photography and digital paintings by queer artists. Every TV screen comes with a QR code that redirects interested parties to a site where they can browse the artist’s collection.

Try as I might, I don’t make it through the panel discussion featuring Bee Davies, Erika Isett, Lola Menthol and Raven50mm. After a week of listening to and being inspired by some of the smartest, most innovative minds in the field, my own personal piece of technology – my brain – has ceased to function.

CORRECTION: "Qrypto Queers" was corrected to "Qrypto Queer."

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The Creator-To-Podcaster Pipeline Is Ready to Explode

Nat Rubio-Licht
Nat Rubio-Licht is a freelance reporter with dot.LA. They previously worked at Protocol writing the Source Code newsletter and at the L.A. Business Journal covering tech and aerospace. They can be reached at
The Creator-To-Podcaster Pipeline Is Ready to Explode
Evan Xie

It’s no secret that men dominate the podcasting industry. Even as women continue to grow their foothold, men still make up many of the highest-earning podcasts, raking in massive paychecks from ad revenue and striking deals with streaming platforms worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

But a new demographic is changing that narrative: Gen-Z female influencers and content creators.

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NASA’s JPL Receives Billions to Begin Understanding Our Solar System

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

NASA’s JPL Receives Billions to Begin Understanding Our Solar System
Evan Xie

NASA’s footprint in California is growing as the agency prepares for Congress to approve its proposed 2024 budget.

The overall NASA budget swelled 6% from the prior year, JPL deputy director Larry James told dot.LA. He added he sees that as a continuation of the last two presidential administrations’ focus on modernizing and bolstering the nation’s space program.

The money goes largely to existing NASA centers in California, including the Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory run with Caltech, Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

California remains a hotspot for NASA space activity and investment. In 2021, the agency estimated its economic output impact on the region to be around $15.2 billion. That was far more than its closest competing states, including Texas ($9.3 billion) and Maryland (roughly $8 billion). That same year, NASA reported it employed over 66,000 people in California.

“In general, Congress has been very supportive” of the JPL and NASA’s missions, James said. “It’s generally bipartisan [and] supported by both sides of the aisle. In the last few years in general NASA has been able to have increased budgets.”

There are 41 current missions run by JPL and CalTech, and another 16 scheduled for the future. James added the new budget is “an incredible support for all the missions we want to do.”

The public-private partnership between NASA and local space companies continues to evolve, and the increased budget could be a boon for LA-based developers. Numerous contractors for NASA (including CalTech, which runs the JPL), Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX and Northrop Grumman all stand to gain new contracts once the budget is finalized, partly because NASA simply needs the private industry’s help to achieve all its goals.

James said that there was only one JPL mission that wasn’t funded – a mission to send an orbital satellite to survey the surface and interior of Venus, called VERITAS.

NASA Employment and Output ImpactEvan Xie

The Moon and Mars

Much of the money earmarked in the proposed 2024 budget is for crewed missions. Overall, NASA’s asking for $8 billion from Congress to fund lunar exploration missions. As part of this, the majority is earmarked for the upcoming Artemis mission, which aims to land a woman and person of color on the Moon’s south pole.

While there’s a number of high-profile missions the JPL is working on that are focused on Mars, including Mars Sample Return project (which received $949 million in this proposed budget) and Ingenuity helicopter and Perseverance rover, JPL also received significant funding to study the Earth’s climate and behavior.

JPL also got funding for several projects to map our universe. One is the SphereX Near Earth Objects surveyor mission, the goal of which is to use telescopes to “map the entire universe,” James said, adding that the mission was fully funded.

International Space Station

NASA’s also asking for more money to maintain the International Space Station (ISS), which houses a number of projects dedicated to better understanding the Earth’s climate and behavior.

The agency requested roughly $1.3 billion to maintain the ISS. It also is increasing its investment in space flight support, in-space transportation and commercial development of low-earth orbit (LEO). “The ISS is an incredible platform for us,” James said.

James added there are multiple missions outside or on board the ISS now taking data, including EMIT, which launched in July 2022. The EMIT mission studies arid dust sources on the planet using spectroscopy. It uses that data to remodel how mineral dust movement in North and South America might affect the Earth’s temperature changes.

Another ISS mission JPL launched is called ECOSTRESS. The mission sent a thermal radiometer onto the space station in June 2018 to monitor how plants lose water through their leaves, with the goal of figuring out how the terrestrial biosphere reacts to changes in water availability. James said the plan is to “tell you the kind of foliage health around the globe” from space.

One other ISS project is called Cold Atom Lab. It is “an incredible fundamental physics machine,” James said, that’s run by “three Nobel Prize winners as principal investigators on the Space Station.” Cold Atom Lab is a physics experiment geared toward figuring out how quantum phenomena behave in space by cooling atoms with lasers to just below absolute zero degrees.

In the long term, James was optimistic NASA’s imaging projects could lead to more dramatic discoveries. Surveying the makeup of planets’ atmospheres is a project “in the astrophysics domain we’re very excited about,” James said. He added that this imaging could lead to information about life on other planets, or, at the very least, an understanding of why they’re no longer habitable.

Three Wishes Cereal Co-Founder Margaret Wishingrad on ‘The Power of No’

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.

Three Wishes Cereal Co-Founder Margaret Wishingrad on ‘The Power of No’
Provided by BHE

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Three Wishes founder and CEO Margaret Wishingrad talks about creating brand awareness and shares the key component to running a successful business.

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