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In mid-March, a majority of companies had to send their employees home and tell them to stay there indefinitely. Most business owners were abiding by what they hoped would be a short-term situation. Few could have imagined 10 months ago that at the beginning of 2021 they would still lack a bonafide game plan to get back up and running. In fact, the longer this pandemic has dragged on, the more it's become clear that the typical, pre-pandemic workplace is not something we'll see again for quite some time.
Reflecting on what the country looks like today, it's a real possibility that in the not-too-distant future L.A. sets not only the stage but also a new standard for what a health-conscious commute and a productive work life looks like as a model for apprehensive Americans.
Commercial real estate brokers in crowded cities such as New York have heard from countless clients that the city's population density complicates matters materially. Even employers who hope to get back to the office as soon as possible are reluctant to return to buildings where they may deem it ill-advised to step into the lobby or to use the elevator to get to their desired floor. Safety comes first for everyone.
Sprawling Los Angeles, however, offers a different landscape. Downtown L.A., once abandoned by businesses in favor of other neighborhoods and nearby cities, has seen a documented boom in recent years. It's a proud home to law firms and financial companies, yet it's not by any means the only area that appeals to L.A. businesses — and that's a benefit. What makes L.A. so unique is how expansive it is. There are so many options for where to plant your flag. Being in the city center is not necessarily the best spot for most businesses. In fact, there's very much a floating 'center of town,' depending on where tomorrow's companies intend to establish themselves.
For many decades, we've heard about how the so-called hub and spoke model - having one central headquarters in the heart of the city with smaller offshoot offices in the suburbs - would be the future of commercial real estate. Last spring, conversations began to bubble up again in that direction, though those realities haven't yet manifested. Companies ultimately want to keep their teams intact and together. In cities other than L.A., if that's your intent, you're stuck with the major downtown area, and paying a steep price for it since every other organization is looking at the same limited supply of offices. But, because L.A.'s culture and infrastructure is already spread out, there's no reason to hesitate to move your office headquarters elsewhere, where it makes most sense for your company, within L.A. County's 88 cities.
Moving away from the urban center is not as much a concern for L.A.-based businesses. In fact, with the state of affairs on the ground right now, it's a major draw. The commute is proven to be employees' greatest concern. A car-dependent culture such as L.A.'s doesn't require any rethinking or rejiggering of transportation to accommodate the same transit shift that is hitting other cities so severely.
In recent years, big tech companies including Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook have made sizable real estate commitments to shift their focus and operations, thereby considerably reimagining their local presences. Despite the ongoing pandemic, these projects are chugging along, and the payoffs begin with thousands of new jobs being created in the coming years. Expect this trend to accelerate in the future. If it's good enough for those giant tech companies, others like them will take notice, and smaller companies will follow.
For example, Hollywood is being transformed around streaming content, and it's all taking place within driving distance of the entertainment capital of the world. What's notable, though, is that these companies are deliberately choosing areas such as Culver City to stake their claims. In such a city, they have the space to put down both traditional offices and fully built-out studios where they can shoot, produce, edit and release content. Although the technology and the thinking have evolved, Los Angeles remains at the epicenter of the global entertainment industry.
That's what makes L.A. such an exciting place to be right now. With an industry in transition, it creates opportunity for others to reshape what comes next. While those types of seismic moves take time, they begin with the biggest players' real estate investments that are then quickly followed by the next crop of companies looking to find their slice of the growing pie.
While there are still challenges in the world of commercial real estate, the office is not dead. As with many other industries, commercial real estate will have to adapt and grow to the needs of businesses and entrepreneurs across all cities. But if you're trying to figure out what possibilities lie ahead, and how innovation can take place within existing infrastructure, look no further than Los Angeles.
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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.
The United States Supreme Court called a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks constitutional on Friday, overturning the country’s founding abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court also upheld that there cannot be any restriction on how far into a pregnancy abortion can be banned.
When Politico first broke the news months before SCOTUS’s final ruling, a slew of bills entered Congress to protect data privacy and prevent the sale of data, which can be triangulated to see if a person has had an abortion or if they are seeking an abortion and have historically been used by antiabortion individuals who would collect this information during their free time.
Democratic lawmakers led by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo called on Google to stop collecting location data. The chair of the Federal Trade Commission has long voiced plans for the agency to prevent data collection. A week after the news, California Assembly passed A.B. 2091, a law that would prevent insurance companies and medical providers from sharing information in abortion-related cases (the state Senate is scheduled to deliberate on it in five days).
These scattered bills attempt to do what health privacy laws do not. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, was established in 1996 when the Internet was still young and most people carried flip phones. The act declared health institutions were not allowed to share or disclose patients’ health information. Google, Apple and a slew of fertility and health apps are not covered under HIPAA, and fertility app data can be subpoenaed by law enforcement.
California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (or CMIA), goes further than HIPAA by encompassing apps that store medical information under the broader umbrella of health institutions that include insurance companies and medical providers. And several how-tos on protecting data privacy during Roe v. Wade have been published in the hours of the announcement.
But reproductive rights organizations say data privacy alone cannot fix the problem. According to reproductive health policy think tank Guttmacher Institute, the closest state with abortion access to 1.3 million out-of-state women of reproductive age is California. One report from the UCLA Center on Reproductive Health, Law and Policy estimates as many as 9,400 people will travel to Los Angeles County every year to get abortions, and that number will grow as more states criminalize abortions.
“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (email@example.com). Please send job changes and personnel moves to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advertising technology company OpenX Technologies appointed Geoff Wolinetz as senior vice president of demand platforms. Wolinetz was most recently senior vice president of growth at Chalice Custom Algorithms.
Remote health care infrastructure provider Getlabs hired Jaime LaFontaine as its vice president of business development. L.A.-based LaFontaine was previously director of business development for Alto Pharmacy.
Customer experience platform DISQO tapped Andrew Duke as its vice president of product, consumer applications. Duke previously served as Oracle’s senior director of strategy and product.
Media company Wheelhouse DNA named Michael Senzer as senior manager of Additive Creative, its newly launched digital talent management division. Senzer was previously vice president of business development at TalentX Entertainment.
Fintech lending platform Camino Financial hired Dana Rainford as vice president of people and talent. Rainford previously served as head of human resources at Westwood Financial.
Kourtney Day returned to entertainment company Jim Henson’s Creature Shop as senior director of business development. Day mostly recently served as business development manager for themed entertainment at Solomon Group.
In this week’s edition of “Raises”: An L.A.-based footwear company closed $100 million to boost its expansion into the global market, while there were Series A raises for local fintech, biotech and space startups.
Miracle Miles Group, an L.A.-based footwear company, raised a $100 million Series A funding round co-led by IDG Capital and Sequoia Capital China.
Deno, a San Diego-based software development startup, raised a $21 million Series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital.
Tapcheck, an L.A.-based financial wellness startup that helps workers access their paycheck before payday, raised a $20 million Series A funding round led by PeakSpan Capital.
Gemelli Biotech, an L.A.- and Raleigh, N.C.-based biotech startup focused on gastrointestinal diseases, raised a $19 million Series A financing round led by Blue Ox Healthcare Partners.
Epsilon3, an L.A.-based space operations software startup, raised a $15 million Series A funding round led by Lux Capital.
Global Premier Fertility, an Irvine-based fertility company, raised an $11 million Series C funding round led by Triangle Capital Corporation.
Vamstar, an L.A.- and London-based medical supply chain platform, raised a $9.5 million Series A funding round co-led by Alpha Intelligence Capital and Dutch Founders Fund.
System 9, an L.A.-based digital asset market-making firm focused on the crypto altcoin market, raised a $5.7 million Series A funding round led by Capital6 Eagle.
Myria, an L.A.-based online marketplace of luxury goods and services, raised a $4.3 million seed round from Y Combinator, Backend Capital, Cathexis Ventures and other angel investors.
Binarly, an L.A.-based firmware cybersecurity company, raised a $3.6 million seed round from WestWave Capital and Acrobator Ventures.
Raises is dot.LA’s weekly feature highlighting venture capital funding news across Southern California’s tech and startup ecosystem. Please send fundraising news to Decerry Donato (email@example.com).
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