Leonardo DiCaprio Joins LA Venture Fund Struck Capital as Limited Partner

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.

Leonardo DiCaprio Joins LA Venture Fund Struck Capital as Limited Partner

Santa Monica seed-stage fund Struck Capital is adding some high-wattage Hollywood star power to its cast of limited partners. Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has made what the firm described as a "significant" investment in the fund, bringing something far more valuable than his seven figure check: The ability to open up doors for portfolio companies and attract other investors.

"It's a huge feather in our cap," said Adam Struck, the South African entrepreneur who started Struck in 2014. "It has tremendous tailwinds for every aspect of the fund."


Though this is the first time DiCaprio has backed a Los Angeles fund, he previously joined San Francisco's Princeville Capital's climate technology fund as an investor and advisor and Boston's Data Point Capital as an advisor and LP. He also invested directly in prominent startups including Allbirds, Casper, Beyond Meat and Rubicon.

"Los Angeles has a creative and innovative spirit like nowhere else, and I'm excited to be investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders in my hometown," DiCaprio said in a statement. The A-list actor commands hefty salaries and has long been among the highest paid in the industry.

Struck would not say how he came into contact with DiCaprio's investment team, only that "it's a really small sandbox and we had mutual acquaintances." Struck also declined to specify the size of DiCaprio's investment, but said the fund's minimum is $1 million and the actor wrote a check for "materially more than that."

DiCaprio, who is well known for his environmental activism, was attracted to the firm because of its goal of backing startups with a social mission, such as Aquabyte, an aquaculture startup employing computer vision and machine learning software to improve fish farming efficiency, according to Struck. The firm also recently led early-stage investments in Brainbase, Scratchpay, Mythical Games, and Sendoso and has also backed Mojo Vision, Postmates, Nutanix, Latch, Grab, and Wunder Mobility.

"We gravitate towards founders who are trying to change the world," Struck said.

As the fourth biggest seed fund in L.A., Struck is currently deploying its second fund, with $55 million in dry powder, and has $150 million in assets under management.

DiCaprio joins a long list of other celebrity startup investors includes musician Nasir "Nas" Jones (188 companies), actor Ashton Kutcher (158), and NBA Carmelo Anthony (38). Kutcher turned $30 million into $250 million as an early investor in Skype, Spotify and Airbnb. The late Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was also active in VC, partnering with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel to form a fund in 2016.

Editor's note: The story was later clarified by Adam B. Struck, Managing Partner at Struck Capital, to reflect that while Leonardo DiCaprio is an investor in Struck Capital, the amount of the investment is undisclosed.

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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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INDIEV Teams Up With Foxconn To Launch Electric SUVs

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 samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

INDIEV Teams Up With Foxconn To Launch Electric SUVs
Photo Courtesy of IndiEV

INDIEV, a startup based in Vernon, announced this week it will partner with Taiwanese tech conglomerate Foxconn to build its first prototypes of its upcoming electric SUV, nicknamed the INDI One.

The debut makes it the seventh consumer electric vehicle company to enter Los Angeles’s crowded cohort of green carmakers.

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