Here Are the Largest Raises in Los Angeles in 2021

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.

Here Are the Largest Raises in Los Angeles in 2021

Move over Silicon Valley, Los Angeles is increasingly becoming a tech player. This year proved a banner year for venture investment with the top 10 biggest raises so far this year drawing in $2.5 billion, according to Pitchbook.

Topping the list of big raises was Orca Security, a cloud security company that has offices in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. But there are a wide variety of industries also represented from gaming to NFTs and even salad chain Sweetgreen, a list that represented both the moment and the future of tech.

The top 10 biggest raises in Los Angeles as of Dec. 15 total fell by $2.8 billion from last year’s top 10, which included a huge $1.9 billion raise for Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

This year, Orca Security had two of the largest raises this year, including the largest of all the local LA companies and it landed on the top 10 twice.

The company raised a $150 million growth round in July, just three months before its Series C. In October the company raised a whopping $550 million Series C round in Oct. that valued the company at $1.8 billion.

Orca’s growth is in part because of a rise in data breaches, and companies scrambling to safeguard their assets from hackers – especially as more and more of commerce and transactions move online. According to a December report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, this year saw a record-breaking number of data breaches, about 1,291 worldwide. Orca is backed by investors including Temasek, Redpoint Ventures, ICONIQ Capital, and Silicon Valley CISO Investments.

ReCharge Payments, a software company that lets online sellers manage subscription payments and recurring billing, was fifth on the list this year, having raised a $227 million round in May led by Bain Capital Ventures.

The latest addition to the list was AvantStay, a home rental startup that raised a $160 million Series B Dec. 15 and was the fifth largest raise so far this year.

Sherman Oaks-based Mythical Games, which is developing video games that run on a play-to-earn platform, an increasingly popular way of bringing NFTs into gaming, also made the list. Gaming exploded during the pandemic and its popularity helped the company raise $75 million in June and another $150 million in November to expand its Mythical Platform, a place where players can trade and buy NFTs gained in-game.

Venture capital is racing to snatch up potentially valuable NFT investments to avoid missing their shot at the next Bored Ape Yacht Club or CryptoKitties.

Mythical has a star-studded investor sheet, ranging from institutional tech investors like Andreessen Horowitz and RedBird Capital to OneRepublic lead singer Ryan Tedder and sports celebrities including agent Curtis Polk and Boston Red Sox director Michael Gordon. Binance and FTX, two crypto exchange operators, also invested.

Other companies to make it on the list is blockchain company BlockDameon, which raised $155 million in September and Kim Kardashian West’s Skims, which raised $154 million in April -- following the deal Skims was worth $1.6 billion, and it cemented Kardashian West’s status as a billionaire.

The only public firm on this year’s list was Sweetgreen, the Culver City-based salad chain that debuted on NASDAQ Nov. 18.

The company raised $156 million in January, the sixth-largest this year. Its IPO in November raised a further $364 million for the company, which has claimed profitability since 2018 but in reality has recorded losses since 2014. Still, post-IPO, Sweetgreen was valued at about $3.4 billion.

Interestingly, Sweetgreen co-founder Johnathan Neman told dot.LA last year that Sweetgreen is not a tech company -- but it still made the list because of its recent supersized funding rounds.

Beyond the top ten were some other notable raises.

Culver City-based esports team owner and apparel seller 100 Thieves raised a $60 million Series C Dec. 2, bringing it to a $460 million valuation and cinching the 23rd spot on the list this year.

100 Thieves co-founder Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag told investors the plan is to use the funding to acquire more companies that make hardware and merch it can brand and sell. The company picked up custom keyboard maker Higround in October, and the two are already collaborating on a merch capsule that includes a gaming keyboard, hoodie and bags.

Genies, a gaming-adjacent company that’s working to create digital avatars that people can take with them across the internet, was no. 18 on the list. Its $64.5 million Series B raised in May valued the company at $330 million. Genies is stacking its corporate ladder with ex-Snapchat employees, including George Tu, a former senior engineer at Snap who joined Genies as its director of engineering in September.

Check out more of the top raises in LA County this year below.

(Full disclosure: Universal Hydrogen is backed by dot.LA co-founder and chairman Spencer Rascoff through his 75 and Sunny venture firm).

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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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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.