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You may not know this about Los Angeles, but our sprawling county of homes and highways was once, for a good 40 years, the top farming county in the U.S.
Of course, it’s been a long time since L.A. County could boast that title—it lost its top ranking in 1949, and hasn’t looked back since. The rows of citrus, avocado and almond trees that used to live here have since migrated to areas like the Central Valley, which now lead the way in making California the nation’s largest agricultural economy.
But that doesn’t mean that L.A. doesn’t still have something to say as far as agriculture is concerned—specifically as it relates to agricultural technology, also known as agtech. Earlier this week, L.A.-based Moleaer announced a $40 million Series C funding round led by private equity giant Apollo Global Management, which takes the startup’s total funding to $61 million. Moleaer is part of the growing ranks of agtech startups basking in what’s become a golden age for the sector: Agtech venture funding hit a record $3.2 billion in the third quarter of 2021, spurred by climate change and the pandemic’s impact on supply chain logistics.
Moleaer’s “nanobubble” technology essentially supercharges liquid with oxygen molecules, which destroys pathogens and algae blooms, leading to healthier roots and longer-living plants. The technology allows farmers to reduce their reliance on water and chemical oxidants—a major, looming problem as climate change threatens worsening droughts during peak growing months.
Moleaer is far from the only local startup offering technologically innovative solutions to these issues. Last year, L.A.-based Proterra Ag launched HYPERroots, an eco-substrate made of gel that protects the plant roots from soil and weather inconsistencies, as well as parasites and bacteria—boosting the likelihood that a crop will survive well into the harvest season. L.A. is also home to vertical farming startup Plenty, which raised a $400 million in Series E funding in January to further develop its resource-saving farming technology.
What’s clear, from these startups, is that we can no longer ignore climate change’s impact on our food supply. What comes next will depend on whether farmers can leverage these new technologies—as well as advancements in biotech, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and data analytics—to better and more sustainably feed the world. — Keerthi Vedantam
Techstars Los Angeles hosted its annual Demo Day, featuring a cohort of 12 startups from across the world that are working in health care, space, ecommerce and more. The event capped a three-month accelerator program that all of the companies attended in person in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Lakers legend is investing in Beverly Hills-based SimWin Sports, a digital sports league where virtual teams and athletes backed by non-fungible tokens (NFTs) compete in simulated games.
An internal investigation revealed “no evidence” that senior executives ignored or attempted to conceal reports of sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard, despite a bombshell report and several lawsuits that allege the contrary.
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Suneera Madhani, discusses how she dealt with feelings of self-doubt and drew on her family’s small business experience to launch one of the few female-led fintech companies.
Join 500-plus entrepreneurs, executives and investors June 23 at the Hilton Los Angeles Culver City for the Recurring Revenue Conference hosted by Sutton Capital Partners. Hear from experts who are successfully growing their industry-leading companies, as well as from the investors backing them. Can’t make the in-person event? This year's conference is open to virtual attendance.
What We’re Reading Elsewhere...
- Applications open for Black Girl Ventures' fall 2022 pitch program.
- Forbes profiles L.A.-based fashion startup DressX and its Ukrainian founders.
- Pasadena-based Miso Robotics takes its fast-food robot to the Middle East.
- In Hawthorne, former SpaceX engineers create a pizza-making robot.
- L.A.-based blockchain gaming startup Mythical Games partners with South Korean game studio Kakao Games.
- Serve Robotics and Uber partner to deliver meals by robot in Hollywood and West Hollywood.