LA Tech Updates: Open Raven On a Hiring Spree, Tinder's Pandemic Dating Feature

Tami Abdollah

Tami Abdollah was dot.LA's senior technology reporter. She was previously a national security and cybersecurity reporter for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C. She's been a reporter for the AP in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times and for L.A.'s NPR affiliate KPCC. Abdollah spent nearly a year in Iraq as a U.S. government contractor. A native Angeleno, she's traveled the world on $5 a day, taught trad climbing safety classes and is an avid mountaineer. Follow her on Twitter.

Open Raven

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.

Today:

  • Open Raven Adds Three Cloud and Security Veterans to its Team
  • Tinder Tests Video Feature for Pandemic Dating

    Open Raven Adds Three Cloud and Security Veterans to its Team

    Open Raven, a Los Angeles-based company that offers a cloud data security platform, said Thursday that it has expanded its leadership team to include three new cloud and security industry veterans. The move comes weeks after the company announced its second major round of funding.

    Rob Markovich joins the company as its new chief marketing officer from his prior role as chief marketing officer at Wavefront. Alan Buckley has been hired as the senior vice president of sales, finance and operations, from his prior role as the business operations lead at Tanium. Bill Hau will be the new vice president of customer success. Hau has more than 20 years of offensive and defensive cybersecurity operations experience and previously worked at companies including Cylance, Mandiant/FireEye, IBM and McAfee.

    Their hire follows Open Raven's raise of a $15 million Series A round this June — four months after it emerged from stealth to announce seed funding. The round was led by Kleiner Perkins as well as existing investors like Upfront Ventures, bringing its total capital raised to $19.1 million.__

    Do you have a story that needs to be told? My DMs are open on Twitter @latams. You can also email me at tami(at)dot.la, or ask for my Signal.

    Tinder Tests Video Feature for Pandemic Dating

    As COVID puts a pause on dating for many singles, Tinder has rolled out a new video chat feature. The dating app announced Wednesday that users in 13 countries, including four U.S. states, can now try out "Face to Face."

    This is part of Tinder's big sell on a feature Bumble launched last year that has become popular. The video calls "prioritize control and comfort" by prompting users to agree to a set of ground rules (keeping the interaction PG) and letting them disable the video feature at any point. You're also able to leave a report once the video ends.

    "We're looking to better understand how video chat fits in with the overall journey of getting to know someone new," Tinder spokesperson Evan Bonnstetter explained in an email.

    Users in Virginia, Illinois, Georgia and Colorado can meet their matches face-to-face. But the feeling has to be mutual — both parties need to opt-in before the chat switches to a split-screen video call.

    Like Snapchat, the appeal of talking on dating apps lies in anonymity, for some. Plus, chatting on an app relieves the stress of giving out personal information.

    As stay-at-home orders remain in place, virtual dates have become default. Will this last? A Tinder survey of users found that over half of its U.S. users have used the video date function with a match in the past month. Plus, 40% of Gen Z members surveyed who tried video dating said they'd continue using the feature "as a way to decide whether to meet IRL (in real life) in the future — even once their favorite date spot is open again."

    Launched in 2012, Tinder, now boasting over 60 million subscribers, is available in 190 countries and over 40 languages.

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      E-Scooter Companies Are Quietly Changing Their Low-Income Programs in LA

      Maylin Tu
      Maylin Tu is a freelance writer who lives in L.A. She writes about scooters, bikes and micro-mobility. Find her hovering by the cheese at your next local tech mixer.
      E-Scooter Companies Are Quietly Changing Their Low-Income Programs in LA
      Photo by Maylin Tu

      When Lime launched in Los Angeles in 2018, the company offered five free rides per day to low-income riders, so long as they were under 30 minutes each.

      But in early May, that changed. Rides under 30 minutes now cost low-income Angelenos a flat rate of $1.25. As for the five free rides per day, that program ended December 2021 and was replaced by a rate of $0.50 fee to unlock e-scooters, plus $0.07 per minute (and tax).

      Lime isn’t alone. Lyft and Spin have changed the terms of their city-mandated low-income programs. Community advocates say they were left largely unaware.

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      Faraday Future Reveals Only 401 Pre-Orders For Its First Electric Car

      David Shultz

      David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

      Faraday Future Reveals Only 401 Pre-Orders For Its First Electric Car
      Courtesy of Faraday Future

      Electric vehicle hopeful Faraday Future has had no shortage of drama—from alleged securities law violations to boardroom shake-ups—on its long and circuitous path to actually producing a car. And though the Gardena-based company looked to have turned a corner by recently announcing plans to launch its first vehicle later this year, Faraday’s quarterly earnings report this week revealed that demand for that car has underwhelmed—to say the least.

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      Meet CropSafe, the Agtech Startup Helping Farmers Monitor Their Fields

      David Shultz

      David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

      Meet CropSafe, the Agtech Startup Helping Farmers Monitor Their Fields
      Courtesy of CropSafe.

      This January, John McElhone moved to Santa Monica from, as he described it, “a tiny farm in the absolute middle of nowhere” in his native Northern Ireland, with the goal of growing the crop-monitoring tech startup he founded.

      It looks like McElhone’s big move is beginning to pay off: His company, CropSafe, announced a $3 million seed funding round on Tuesday that will help it develop and scale its remote crop-monitoring capabilities for farmers. Venture firm Elefund led the round and was joined by investors Foundation Capital, Global Founders Capital, V1.VC and Great Oaks Capital, as well as angel investors Cory Levy, Josh Browder and Charlie Songhurst. The capital will go toward growing CropSafe’s six-person engineering team and building up its new U.S. headquarters in Santa Monica.

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