Vet tech Modern Animal Will Use Its $75.5M Raise to Open Sites in Playa Vista, Pasadena and Studio City

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

Modern Animal

U.S. pet ownership rose nearly 50% over the last year as Americans, hemmed in by the pandemic, embraced their furry friends. The surge propelled the pet industry past $100 billion in revenues and exacerbated demands on veterinarians already stretched thin.

With its hybrid telemedicine subscription service, Culver City-based startup Modern Animal is looking to grow by appealing to both overtaxed vets and the new rush of pet owners. On Friday, it announced a $75.5 million investment to help do it.

The company believes its model, which relies on 24/7, app-based care, access to beautifully outfitted clinics for users and a streamlined system for veterinarians, can help upend the way the industry traditionally does business.

"The problems we were trying to solve [when we started the company] were not actually related to the animal," said CEO and co-founder Steven Eidelman. They were related to the humans: the pet-owners and the veterinarians.

Modern Animal

Eidelman is the former founder of Whistle, a pet health startup that made a 'Fitbit for dogs' and was acquired in 2016 for $117 million by Mars. He founded Modern Animal in 2018. It has now raised $89 million.

Its first clinic opened in April last year in West Hollywood. Unlike most drab veterinarian offices, Modern Animal's clinic boasts amenities like a "beautiful Oscar Gronner mural" and "Margo's Bark root beer in our fridge". Customers pay a $100 annual membership fee per pet, which grants them free exams and around-the-clock telemedicine. The company does not offer emergency care.

The new funding is split between a previously unannounced $35.5 million Series A led by True Ventures and Addition, and a $40 million Series B led by Founders Fund. With it, the company plans to open a dozen more clinics around California over the next 18 months — including facilities in Playa Vista, Pasadena and Studio City by the end of the year. The WeHo clinic has maxed out its capacity of around 4,000 fuzzy patients; Eidelman said the new clinics will be similarly sized.

Modern Animal has largely appealed to younger pet owners. Eighty percent of its human members are between 25 and 45 years old; only 10% of the clients are over the age of 55.

"There is a very different type of behavior that younger pet owners are exhibiting, and so we wanted to build a system that, looking to the future, is built for them," Eidelman said. Members make about five visits per year during their first year of membership, which is more than double the frequency of visits to a typical vet's office.

He attributes that stickiness to Modern Animal's free initial exams and how the company pays veterinarians, which discourages them from charging for extra services.

Layla (left), and her human, Modern Animal CEO and co-founder Steven Eidelman.

About 80 employees work at the company, split evenly between the medical staff and the business side. Flush with funds, Eidelman plans to go on a hiring spree, prioritizing operational and human resource roles to support the company's expansion.

Eidelman said one of the company's cornerstones is creating a good place for often stressed out veterinarians to work.

Dr. Christie Long, Modern Animal's head of medicine, said it's one of the reasons she appreciates the company. She has been a veterinarian since 2007.

"As a profession, we give so much of ourselves away, and we have a real problem with drawing boundaries," she said.

Modern Animal takes several steps to change that paradigm, Long said.

The medical team works collaboratively, so that during a telemedicine appointment, the on-call vet has access to the pet's health records, which may have been input by their colleagues from both in-person and remote visits.

Using telemedicine also allows for a more efficient allocation of the clinical staff's time and skills, Eidelman said, as less urgent matters can be addressed without requiring a potentially wasteful visit to the clinic. And unlike much of the vet industry, the company pays its staff a salary rather than on a fee-for-service basis.

"We pay a good salary to a doctor and expect them to work their 40 hours a week and then we expect them to go home. And we want them to go home," said Long. "We are attracting a younger group of veterinarians...I'm excited to see them raise their hands and say, 'the (old) model doesn't work for me.'"

In addition to the new funding, the company also announced three board members: David Bowman, former COO and CFO of Blue Bottle Coffee; Karen Boone, former CFO of Restoration Hardware and current board member of Peloton, Sonos and Rivian; and Tony Conrad, partner at True Ventures.

Eidelman said they bring value from their experience scaling businesses with a physical presence.

"The big opportunity we see is to fix this profession," he said.

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The Influencer-to-Podcaster Pipeline Is Ready to Explode

Nat Rubio-Licht
Nat Rubio-Licht is a freelance reporter with dot.LA. They previously worked at Protocol writing the Source Code newsletter and at the L.A. Business Journal covering tech and aerospace. They can be reached at
The Influencer-to-Podcaster Pipeline Is Ready to Explode
Evan Xie

It’s no secret that men dominate the podcasting industry. Even as women continue to grow their foothold, men still make up many of the highest-earning podcasts, raking in massive paychecks from ad revenue and striking deals with streaming platforms worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

But a new demographic is changing that narrative: Gen-Z female influencers and content creators.

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NASA’s JPL Receives Billions to Begin Understanding Our Solar System

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.

NASA’s JPL Receives Billions to Begin Understanding Our Solar System
Evan Xie

NASA’s footprint in California is growing as the agency prepares for Congress to approve its proposed 2024 budget.

The overall NASA budget swelled 6% from the prior year, JPL deputy director Larry James told dot.LA. He added he sees that as a continuation of the last two presidential administrations’ focus on modernizing and bolstering the nation’s space program.

The money goes largely to existing NASA centers in California, including the Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory run with Caltech, Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

California remains a hotspot for NASA space activity and investment. In 2021, the agency estimated its economic output impact on the region to be around $15.2 billion. That was far more than its closest competing states, including Texas ($9.3 billion) and Maryland (roughly $8 billion). That same year, NASA reported it employed over 66,000 people in California.

“In general, Congress has been very supportive” of the JPL and NASA’s missions, James said. “It’s generally bipartisan [and] supported by both sides of the aisle. In the last few years in general NASA has been able to have increased budgets.”

There are 41 current missions run by JPL and CalTech, and another 16 scheduled for the future. James added the new budget is “an incredible support for all the missions we want to do.”

The public-private partnership between NASA and local space companies continues to evolve, and the increased budget could be a boon for LA-based developers. Numerous contractors for NASA (including CalTech, which runs the JPL), Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX and Northrop Grumman all stand to gain new contracts once the budget is finalized, partly because NASA simply needs the private industry’s help to achieve all its goals.

James said that there was only one JPL mission that wasn’t funded – a mission to send an orbital satellite to survey the surface and interior of Venus, called VERITAS.

NASA Employment and Output ImpactEvan Xie

The Moon and Mars

Much of the money earmarked in the proposed 2024 budget is for crewed missions. Overall, NASA’s asking for $8 billion from Congress to fund lunar exploration missions. As part of this, the majority is earmarked for the upcoming Artemis mission, which aims to land a woman and person of color on the Moon’s south pole.

While there’s a number of high-profile missions the JPL is working on that are focused on Mars, including Mars Sample Return project (which received $949 million in this proposed budget) and Ingenuity helicopter and Perseverance rover, JPL also received significant funding to study the Earth’s climate and behavior.

JPL also got funding for several projects to map our universe. One is the SphereX Near Earth Objects surveyor mission, the goal of which is to use telescopes to “map the entire universe,” James said, adding that the mission was fully funded.

International Space Station

NASA’s also asking for more money to maintain the International Space Station (ISS), which houses a number of projects dedicated to better understanding the Earth’s climate and behavior.

The agency requested roughly $1.3 billion to maintain the ISS. It also is increasing its investment in space flight support, in-space transportation and commercial development of low-earth orbit (LEO). “The ISS is an incredible platform for us,” James said.

James added there are multiple missions outside or on board the ISS now taking data, including EMIT, which launched in July 2022. The EMIT mission studies arid dust sources on the planet using spectroscopy. It uses that data to remodel how mineral dust movement in North and South America might affect the Earth’s temperature changes.

Another ISS mission JPL launched is called ECOSTRESS. The mission sent a thermal radiometer onto the space station in June 2018 to monitor how plants lose water through their leaves, with the goal of figuring out how the terrestrial biosphere reacts to changes in water availability. James said the plan is to “tell you the kind of foliage health around the globe” from space.

One other ISS project is called Cold Atom Lab. It is “an incredible fundamental physics machine,” James said, that’s run by “three Nobel Prize winners as principal investigators on the Space Station.” Cold Atom Lab is a physics experiment geared toward figuring out how quantum phenomena behave in space by cooling atoms with lasers to just below absolute zero degrees.

In the long term, James was optimistic NASA’s imaging projects could lead to more dramatic discoveries. Surveying the makeup of planets’ atmospheres is a project “in the astrophysics domain we’re very excited about,” James said. He added that this imaging could lead to information about life on other planets, or, at the very least, an understanding of why they’re no longer habitable.

Three Wishes Cereal Co-Founder Margaret Wishingrad on ‘The Power of No’

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Three Wishes Cereal Co-Founder Margaret Wishingrad on ‘The Power of No’
Provided by BHE

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Three Wishes founder and CEO Margaret Wishingrad talks about creating brand awareness and shares the key component to running a successful business.

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