L.A. Tech Updates: Quibi's Woes, TikTok's Riches, Snap Rolls Out Pride Lenses

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Snap Pride lenses

Here are the latest updates on news affecting Los Angeles' startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for more.


  • New Streaming Data Underline Quibi's Struggles
  • John Legend Takes to Wave's Virtual Stage
  • TIkTok Reportedly Rakes in $200M
  • Snap Rolls Out Pride Lenses For U.S. Regions

    New Streaming Data Underline Quibi's Struggles


    Things started so rosily for Quibi, with a fat $1.75 billion fundraise, loads of content deals with A-listers, and a sold-out advertising slate. But lately it's been nothing but bad news.

    Recent reports have depicted all kinds of troubles: low demand, executive departures, unhappy advertisers, an ongoing intellectual property lawsuit, and a potential rift between its two chiefs, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman. All this on top of a global pandemic that has done no favors to the company's initial value proposition of serving the "on-the-go" moments of consumers' lives.

    Quibi is apparently trying to respond. Variety reported on Wednesday that the L.A.-based mobile-first, short-form video platform has been negotiating with Amazon and Roku to accelerate its availability onto connected devices. Company executives have also reportedly taken pay cuts.

    Data provided to dot.LA by JustWatch, an analytics firm with offices in L.A. and Berlin, show that in May, Quibi and its content library captured just 0.5% of the U.S. streaming audience's interest. Netflix led the way at 31%, followed by Amazon Prime Video at 18%, Hulu at 11%, and Disney+ at 8%.

    Industry observers have frequently cited Quibi's lack of a hit show, combined with its nonexistent back catalog of familiar favorites, as a key reason why it has struggled since its April launch.

    JustWatch's data suggest that Reno 911!, which debuted on Quibi in early May, was far and away the most popular show on the app last month. The firm estimates that the rebooted police satire was four times more popular than the runner-up, The Stranger, and 12 times more popular than Quibi's third-ranked title, Most Dangerous Game.

    Quibi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    John Legend Takes to Wave's Virtual Stage


    Wave, an entertainment technology company that turns performers into digital avatars and puts them on virtual stages where they can entertain and interact with fans, announced that John Legend will perform on the platform on Thursday, June 25th at 3:00pm PT.

    Legend had previously been slated to participate in the L.A.-based entertainment firm's "One Wave" virtual concert series, but no date had been announced before Wednesday.

    The performance, available via YouTube and Twitter, will feature new songs from the EGOT winner's upcoming album, "Bigger Love." Leveraging the Wave platform's interactivity, attendees will be able to send "visual gifts" throughout the performance, with 100% of the proceeds going to Legend's FREEAMERICA criminal justice reform campaign.

    Wave is partnering with PEOPLE for the Legend performance. Sponsors also include Yamaha and Valence, a "new social network addressing diversity by connecting Black talent with economic opportunity." The Ad Council will also be providing public service announcements and resources during the show for fighting racial injustice.

    Fresh off a $30 million Series B fundraise, Wave has hosted over 50 events, for up to 400,000 people at a time.

    ​TIkTok Reportedly Raked in $200M

    The Informationreported Wednesday that TikTok earned between $200 million and $300 million in revenue worldwide in 2019. The news site also said the Culver City-based social media phenomenon's 2020 revenue goals are $500 million in the U.S. alone. These figures follow a separate report fromBloomberg last month that TikTok's parent company ByteDance raked in $17 billion in 2019, and pocketed over $3 billion in profit.

    A TikTok company spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the figures, saying "we don't publicly share company data or revenue metrics."

    In response to The Information's report that TikTok is considering hiring an American executive to oversee its sales team, the spokesperson said, "We are always looking at new opportunities to scale and attract great talent for our teams."

    TikTok, which is now under the leadership of former Disney streaming executive Kevin Mayer, will be participating later this month in the NewFronts, the digital media world's jamboree of presentations to woo advertising buyers, which will be virtual this year.

    Snap Rolls Out Pride Lenses For U.S. Regions

    Courtesy of Snap

    June is Pride Month, and instead of the annual in-person festivities, L.A. Pride has been celebrating its 50th anniversary with a series of virtual events. Now, Snap is adding augmented reality (AR) to the mix. The Santa Monica company released five new AR lenses on Wednesday in partnership with L.A.'s Pride Media. The "community of storytellers, innovators and influencers" reaches over 6 million monthly unique users, which Pride says surpasses any other LGBT media brand.

    The new lenses, which is Snap-speak for the digital overlays that transform a camera image, "spotlight diverse, queer-identifying changemakers advancing equity for all people in every U.S. state," according to a company statement. The release is paired with the annual "Champions of Pride" issue from The Advocate, a Pride Media subsidiary publication.

    A Snap spokesperson describes the five new lenses as "art gallery-style spaces" that help Snap's young-leaning users learn about LGBTQ+ and BIPOC advocates. These include "Mighty" Rebekah, a 13-year-old who successfully lobbied for an LGBTQ-inclusive school curriculum in her home state of New Jersey, and Brandon Wolf, the first survivor of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando to testify before Congress.

    Snap tapped five designers from its official lens creator cohort to represent five U.S. regions. Each creator has regional ties and either identifies as LGBTQ+ or an ally, the company says.

    Brielle Garcia, designer of the Pacific West lens, says, "I wanted to work on a Pride lens that was not just a celebration of the past, but a celebration of our future. I hope these Lenses can be an encouragement to everyone in the LGBT community. Encouragement that people as unique as you can have success in business, politics, art, or anything you can dream of. This message is important to me because this kind of success has not always been available to us. So many amazing people have come before us to pave the way and this is a celebration of their success and a guide to what you can achieve."

    Joshua Keeney, repping the Northeast, says, "The takeaways that I want people to have with this Lens is that there is incredible diversity within the LGBTQ community, that everyone can be a champion in their own way, and can bring changes to their own communities."


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    “Millions of Dollars Completely Wasted”: Without Neuromarketing, Tech Firms’ Ads Get Lost in the Noise

    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.

    “Millions of Dollars Completely Wasted”: Without Neuromarketing, Tech Firms’ Ads Get Lost in the Noise

    At Super Bowl LVII, advertisers paid at least $7 million for 30–second ad spots, and even more if they didn’t have a favorable relationship with Fox. But the pricey commercials didn’t persuade everyone.

    A recent report from advertising agency Kern and neuroscience marketing research outfit SalesBrain is attempting to answer that question using facial recognition and eye-tracking software.

    Read moreShow less

    ComplYant Founder and CEO Shiloh Johnson on Why Tax Knowledge Is Her ‘Superpower’

    Yasmin Nouri

    Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

    Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

    ComplYant Founder and CEO Shiloh Johnson on Why Tax Knowledge Is Her ‘Superpower’

    On this episode of Behind Her Empire, ComplYant founder and CEO Shiloh Johnson discusses her journey to building a multimillion dollar business and making knowledge of taxes more accessible.

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    Taylor Swift Concert in the Metaverse? Ticketing Platform Token Is Using NFTs To Optimize Experiences

    Andria Moore

    Andria is the Social and Engagement Editor for dot.LA. She previously covered internet trends and pop culture for BuzzFeed, and has written for Insider, The Washington Post and the Motion Picture Association. She obtained her bachelor's in journalism from Auburn University and an M.S. in digital audience strategy from Arizona State University. In her free time, Andria can be found roaming LA's incredible food scene or lounging at the beach.

    Taylor Swift Concert in the Metaverse? Ticketing Platform Token Is Using NFTs To Optimize Experiences
    Evan Xie

    When Taylor Swift announced her ‘Eras’ tour back in November, all hell broke loose.

    Hundreds of thousands of dedicated Swifties — many of whom were verified for the presale — were disappointed when Ticketmaster failed to secure them tickets, or even allow them to peruse ticketing options.

    But the Taylor Swift fiasco is just one of the latest in a long line of complaints against the ticketing behemoth. Ticketmaster has dominated the event and concert space since its merger with Live Nation in 2010 with very few challengers — until now.

    Adam Jones, founder and CEO of Token, a fan-first commerce platform for events, said he has the platform and the tech ready to take it on. First and foremost, with Token, Jones is creating a system where there are no queues. In other words, fans know immediately which events are sold out and where.

    “We come in very fortunate to have a modern, scalable tech stack that's not going to have all these outages or things being down,” Jones said. “That's step one. The other thing is we’re being aggressively transparent about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. So with the Taylor Swift thing…you would know in real time if you actually have a chance of getting the tickets.”

    Here’s how it works: Users register for Token’s app and then purchase tickets to either an in-person event, or an event in the metaverse through Animal Concerts. The purchased ticket automatically shows up in the form of a mintable NFT, which can then be used toward merchandise purchases, other ticketed events or, Adams’s hope for the future — external rewards like airline travel. The more active a user is on the site, the more valuable their NFT becomes.

    Ticketmaster has dominated the music industry for so long because of its association with big name artists. To compete, Token is working on gaining access to their own slew of popular artists. They recently entered into a partnership with Animal Concerts, a live and non-live event experiences platform that houses artists like Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg and Robin Thicke.

    “You'll see they do all the metaverse side of the house,” Jones said. “And we're going to be the [real-life] web3 sides of the house.”

    In addition, Token prides itself on working with the artists selling on their platform to set up the best system for their fanbase, devoid of hefty prices and additional fees — something Ticketmaster users have often complained about. Jones believes where Ticketmaster fails, Token thrives. The app incentivizes users to share more data about their interests, venues and artists by operating on a kind of points system in the form of mintable NFTs.

    “We can actually take the dataset and say there’s 100 million people in the globe that love Taylor Swift, so imagine she’s going on tour and we ask [the user], ‘Would you go to see her in Detroit?’ And imagine this place has 30,000 seats, but 100,000 people clicked ‘yes,’” he explained. “So you can actually inform the user before anything even happens, right? About what their options are and where to get it.”

    Tixr, a Santa-Monica based ticketing app, was founded on the idea that modern ticketing platforms were “living in the legacy of the past.” They plan to attract users by offering them exclusive access to ticketed events that aren’t in Ticketmaster’s registry.

    “It melts commerce that's beyond ticketing…to allow fans to experience and purchase things that don't necessarily have to do with tickets,” said Tixr CEO and Founder Robert Davari. “So merchandise, and experiences, and hospitality and stuff like that are all elegantly melded into this one, content driven interface.”

    Tixr sells tickets to exclusive concerts like a Tyga performance at a night club in Arizona, general in-person festivals like ComplexCon, and partners with local vendors like The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to sell tickets to the races. Plus, Davari said it’s equipped to handle high-demand, so customers aren’t spending hours waiting in digital queues.

    Like Token, Tixr has also found success with a rewards program — in the form of fan marketing.

    “There's nothing more powerful in the core of any event, brand, any live entertainment, [than] the community behind it,” Davari said. “So we build technology to empower those fans and to reward them for bringing their friends and spreading the word.”

    Basically, if a user gets a friend to purchase tickets to an event, then the original user gets rewarded in the form of discounts or upgrades.

    Coupled with their platforms’ ability to handle high-demand events, both Jones and Davari believe their platforms have what it takes to take on Ticketmaster. Expansion into the metaverse, they think, will also help even the playing field.

    “So imagine you can't go to Taylor Swift,” Jones said. “What if you could purchase an exclusive to actually go to that exact same show over the metaverse? An artist’s whole world can expand past the stage itself.”

    With the way ticketing for events works now, obviously not everyone always gets the exact price, venue or date they want. There are “winners and losers.” Jones’s hope is that by expanding beyond in-person events, there can be more winners.

    “If there’s 100,000 people who want to go to one show and there's 37,000 seats, 70,000 are out,” he said. “You can't fight that. But what we can do is start to give them other opportunities to do things in a different way and actually still participate.”

    Jones and Davari both teased that their platforms have some exciting developments in the works, but for now both Token and Tixr are set on making their own space within the industry.

    “We simply want to advance this industry and make it more efficient and more pleasurable for fans to buy,” Davari said. “That's it.”