This is the web version of dot.LA’s daily newsletter. Sign up to get the latest news on Southern California’s tech, startup and venture capital scene.
When Beyond Meat first launched its plant-based meat substitutes in 2012, the company was largely focused on getting them into grocery stores. These days, the El Segundo-based food tech company is inking deals with major fast food chains including KFC and Pizza Hut.
In January, the most famous American fast food restaurant of all, McDonald’s, announced it would roll out its plant-based burger—called, naturally, the McPlant—in more markets across the country. Made in partnership with Beyond Meat, the McPlant aims to deliver the Golden Arches’ trademark taste and texture profiles but in a completely vegetarian manner.
Yet Beyond Meat’s foray into fast food has come at a price. The company’s stock has tumbled more than 70% since last June, while it posted net losses exceeding $182 million in the 2021 fiscal year (including a loss of over $80 million in the fourth quarter, on revenues that declined year-on-year). Beyond Meat partially blamed the disappointing figures on its investments in the restaurant sector, which it said have required a more painstaking product development process. As Fast Company reported Wednesday, the McPlant required several years of R&D and internal testing before finally launching.
All that said, the McPlant could prove to be a successful investment for Beyond Meat; McDonald’s told Fast Company that McPlant sales hit an average of 70 burgers per outlet per day in December, compared to 110 Big Macs. If that kind of sales pace holds across a wider scaling of the product, the McPlant could establish itself as a flagship product for the world’s largest fast food chain—especially as it aims to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. — Keerthi Vedantam
Meet the Reality Studio Betting Big on NFT TV
Wonderfuel, formed by the production company behind reality TV hits like “The Real World,” plans to sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that give fans perks and prizes like access to its shows’ stars or unedited clips from episodes. Those sales would then help fund future programming.
Bambee Raises $30 Million to Give Small Businesses HR Help
There are about 6 million small businesses in the U.S. with paid employees—and 96% of them, according to Bambee founder and CEO Allan Jones, don’t have in-house HR services to address matters like hiring and anti-harassment training. That is the market Bambee is looking to serve.
California Bill Would Let Parents Sue Over Social Media Addiction
California parents would be able to sue social media giants like TikTok and Snap for addicting their children to online apps under a proposed state law. The legislation would leave those companies open to lawsuits and civil penalties if they “knew or should have known” that their platform is addictive and harmful to children.
Angel City Athletes and Execs Discuss Challenges Facing Women
As L.A. women's soccer team Angel City FC gets set to play its first competitive game Saturday, executives and athletes joined a panel at their stadium in Downtown L.A. to spotlight the obstacles women still face in the worlds of tech and sports alike. Reporter Decerry Donato was there.
🎧 Listen Up: Sarah Gibson Tuttle on Building a Mani-Pedi Empire
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Tuttle talks about ditching her corporate job to become the founder and CEO of an at-home nail care business, Olive & June.
What We're Reading Elsewhere...
- Amazon completes its acquisition of MGM, bringing 4,000 new films to its streaming service.
- TikTok expands its pilot of its Snapchat-like "Stories" feature.
- Shift buys Beverly Hills-based auto leasing platform Fair Technologies.
- A look behind the workers driving L.A.'s fleets of delivery robots.
- Mattel partners with L.A.-based TalkShopLive on a new livestream shopping campaign.
How Are We Doing?
Notice some changes to the daily newsletter? We heard you and we're working to make the newsletter more informative, with deeper analysis and more news about L.A.'s tech and startup scene. Let us know what you think in our survey, or email us!