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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      Behind Her Empire: Oui the People Founder Karen Young on Seizing Opportunity

      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.

      Behind Her Empire: Oui the People Founder Karen Young on Seizing Opportunity
      Courtesy of Karen Young

      Karen Young launched Oui the People in 2014 with only $1,500 in her pocket from her Brooklyn apartment. Today, the company is the fastest growing Black-owned beauty brand in the U.S.

      On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Young talks about the role of an entrepreneur, the importance of doing research before launching a brand, and how her immigrant upbringing influenced her business drive.

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      Vinfast and Autonomy Expand Partnership to the Tune of 2,100 More Vehicles

      David Shultz

      David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

      Vinfast car
      Vinfast

      Despite unveiling its third and fourth U.S. production models at the LA Auto Show last week, auto manufacturer Vinfast has yet to deliver any electric vehicles here in the United States. But this doesn’t appear to be a concern for Santa Monica-based Autonomy. On the same day Vinfast unveiled its new VF6 and VF7 platforms at the auto show, the EV subscription company announced that it had purchased another 2,500 Vinfast VF8 and VF9 vehicles in a deal worth roughly a hundred million dollars, according to Autonomy CEO Scott Painter.

      The deal is part of Autonomy’s plan to upend the traditional leasing/buying models for car ownership and replace them with a subscription model that relies less on credit and long term contracts. The idea is to lower the barrier for entry into the EV market for customers who may have previously been priced out. In order to do that though, Autonomy needs cars. Lots of them. Vinfast seems to have turned a corner in their supply chain and manufacturing, or at least the company thinks it has. The 2,500 new vehicles are expected to be delivered over the course of 2023, and will serve markets in California, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Washington state.

      Back in August, Autonomy went on a buying spree, purchasing 23,000 electric vehicles from 17 different manufacturers. That deal included 400 of Vinfast’s VF8s and VF9s. The expansion of the partnership—2,100 additional vehicles—seems to signal that Autonomy believes in the car company and its tech. “Part of our earlier order included an order for some Vinfast cars,” says Painter. This is Vinfast coming back to us and saying, ‘This is how many cars we can get you over 2023.’“You're going to hear a lot of these [announcements] with every OEM. Everybody's got different volumes and different orders. But this is the next bounce in the process for us.”

      Painter says the company has driven the Vinfast products and feels confident enough to move forward with the deal. Nonetheless, since the cars are so new, there’s no way to validate their long term reliability or how much demand they’ll get from current subscribers. But the influx of equipment will also serve as a nice testing ground for Autonomy as they integrate their telematics and software into a new platform. “The ability to know where the car is—latitude, longitude, mileage, and how it's being driven—is the key to unlocking much of the subscription value proposition,” Painter says.

      Despite its roots in Vietnam, Vinfast has its US headquarters in Los Angeles and is manufacturing its vehicles in a plant in North Carolina. Which should make its VF8 and VF9 platforms eligible for at least some of the rebate money in the Inflation Reduction Act. With a comparatively low starting price of $40,700 the VF8 is a particularly interesting entree into the U.S. market. But that price doesn’t include the cost of the battery.

      Vinfast, for better or worse, has adopted a unique strategy in which users will lease their car’s battery over time. This model should allow owners peace of mind that if something goes wrong with the battery, they won’t be on the hook to cover the entire cost of replacement. But with EV sticker prices so high to begin with, it’s unclear how consumers will respond to the added monthly payment of either $169 or $219 per month, depending on the model. Autonomy, however, bought the cars outright with battery included, and customers won’t have to pay an additional fee every month if they choose a Vinfast car subscription.

      All of this makes Vinfast one of the few OEMs that’s confident it will be able to deliver large-ish numbers of vehicles next year. A proposition that bodes well for Autonomy: “Good for them,” says Painter. “They fixed some of their supply chain issues and got their factories up and going.”

      Here's How Much It Costs To Charge An Electric Vehicle

      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.

      car driving by city
      Photo by Adrian N on Unsplash

      Although zero-emission vehicle use continues to grow and California dominates the market, there’s still factors hindering its ability to achieve mass adoption. These can include reservations about performance, safety and quality – but also, concerns regarding range anxiety and the cost of charging.

      So, let’s try to break down how much it costs to charge an electric vehicle in California.

      How we calculated cost

      It is difficult to pinpoint one figure that will apply to every EV driver. Even within a single state, there’s variables – such as mileage driven, the type of vehicle and battery, plus the type of charger as well as if the car owner is opting to fuel up at a public station versus installing a personal home charging point.

      But the general formula for calculating how much charging an electric car will cost is pretty simple: divide your car’s maximum range by its range per kWh, then multiply it by the average cost of electricity per kWh.

      That figure, range per kWh, is an estimate that can vary greatly depending on vehicle and also driving factors. More intense driving, say, uphill in the wind, would lower your overall range per kWh since the car needs more power.

      Regardless of driving conditions, though, you’re always likely to pay more to charge an EV in California than other parts of the country.

      California’s average electricity cost in August was about 27 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Compared to the national average price of around 16 cents per kWh, that’s quite high. In part because California’s “fixed” costs of operating its electric system are used to offset public programs including wildlife mitigation.

      Based on data from the Department of Tax and Fee Administration and Energy Commission, as well as the U.S. Energy Information Administration we also calculated the average California driver spends around $230 on gas monthly, or around $2,760 per year.

      red Tesla car Tesla Model 3. Photo: Tesla

      Tesla

      So, say you drive a Tesla Model 3, one of the most popular Tesla cars.

      Tesla says the standard 2022 Model 3’s long-range battery has a top range of 350 miles per full charge, and while it doesn’t report range per kWh, auto analysts at Edmunds estimate it to be around 25 kWh/100 miles or 2.5 miles. All told, it should cost about $29.36 to fully fuel a Model 3 in California – but bear in mind that you can only use Tesla’s network of proprietary Superchargers unless you have an adapter.

      Or, as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimated, charging a Tesla Model 3 costs about $550 per year.

      Tesla’s 2022 Model S sports car, on the other hand, requires more charging for higher performance. It costs $39.05 per charge, or around $1 per 25 miles.

      Teslas are more expensive to charge than most of their counterparts in part because of their Supercharger network – which most drivers will find a worthy trade-off, given that they’re fast, and can charge an EV from 0% to 80% in about 30 minutes.

      An R1T in Rivian Blue at the main entrance to the plant in Normal, IL.\u200bAn R1T in Rivian Blue at the main entrance to the plant in Normal, IL. Courtesy of Rivian

      Rivian

      If you’re one of the few driving a 2022 Rivian R1T electric truck, it’ll cost around $17.66 per charge. Rivian’s battery models have varying range, but on the high end, contain 400 miles on a full charge. The DOE estimates that driving 25 miles in a 2022 R1T will cost about $1.68 or about $1,000 annually.

      Rivian’s other model, the R1S, is almost identical in price (it costs about 20 cents less than the R1T, by our estimates).

      black and white cars side by side 2023 Nissan Leaf charging.Photo: Nissan

      Nissan Leaf

      A 2022 Nissan Leaf’s base model comes with a 40 kWh battery pack. The DOE estimates this version of Nissan’s affordable commuter car has a maximum range of 149 miles, and gets about 3 miles per kWh, pretty much on par with the overall average for electric vehicles.

      Using this information, we can estimate that the Nissan Leaf will cost around $13.41 to charge once. The DOE calculates that a 2022 Leaf’s annual fuel cost will total $650.

      File:2023 Ford F-150 Lightning.jpg - Wikimedia Commonscommons.wikimedia.org

      Ford

      Ford’s much-hyped electric F-150 all-wheel drive truck debuted last May to much fanfare, including a test drive from president Joe Biden.

      The F-150 Lightning has a max range of 230 miles, and on average a higher fuel cost than competing electric trucks like Rivians. On average, it’ll cost roughly $12.67 for one charge, though the DOE estimates this will amount to around $1,050 annually.

      This year Ford also released an electric Mustang, the Mach-E SUV. The standard Mach-E has a top range of 247 miles on a full charge, and gets about 3 miles per kWh. One full charge of the Mach-E will cost around $22.23, and the DOE surmises that’ll add up to a yearly charging expense of roughly $700.
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