LA Tech Updates: Peacock Launches Olympics Stream; Twitter Cracks Down on QAnon; Startup Job Board 'The Interchange' Launches
- Peacock Launches 24-Hour 'Road to Tokyo' Olympics Stream
- Could Twitter's QAnon Crackdown Be Followed by Others?
- 'The Interchange' Launches to Connect L.A. Startups to Potential Recruits
- LA-Based CreatorIQ Marketing Platform Picks up $24M
Peacock Launches 24-Hour 'Road to Tokyo' Olympics Streammulticolored signage Photo by Kyle Dias on Unsplash
As NBCUniversal prepared for its entry into the streaming wars, it looked to the 2020 Summer Olympics as a valuable tool to build interest and win over viewers. Because the company owns the rights to broadcast the games, it planned to use them to give what would ultimately be called Peacock some wind beneath its wings.
The coronavirus pandemic took the air out of those plans, but with the Tokyo Olympics having moved to the summer of 2021, the streaming service has adjusted. Peacock has launched a new 24/7 stream devoted to the games, which the service announced in a statement on Wednesday.
With the new "Road to Tokyo" channel, Peacock viewers will have access to continuous content "dedicated to Olympic and Paralympic classic moments, documentaries and studio programming," the statement said. This "pop-up channel" is one of Peacock's so-called linear feeds, where users tune into the channel but don't choose what they watch. Other channels include feeds centered around Saturday Night Live, The Office and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Peacock also announced it will feature a collection of NBC Olympics documentaries on its app, and produce three exclusive new specials "to prepare fans for what could be the most meaningful Olympics ever."
The games are now scheduled to begin on June 23, 2021. Although their delay has hindered NBCU's ability to market Peacock, the company is still turning to them as a tool to attract subscribers and goose excitement for its prized assets.
Could Twitter's QAnon Crackdown Be Followed by Others?
Twitter announced Tuesday evening that it began cracking down on accounts related to QAnon, the conspiracy theory that has gained traction across social media platforms. And there's a good chance other companies will follow suit, USC professor Nenad Medvidovic told dot.LA.
The company pledged to suspend accounts tweeting about "these topics that we know are engaged in violations of our multi-account policy, coordinating abuse around individual victims, or are attempting to evade a previous suspicion."
"What Twitter did is not entirely unilateral," Medvidovic, a computer science professor, told dot.LA. "There's actually a concerted effort in connection with other media platforms. The pressure definitely does build."
Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat are independent companies that make their own decisions related to First Amendment issues, Medvidovic said. Still, it seems many of them are working off the same playbook when it comes to addressing and managing misinformation.
QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that revolves around unfounded claims of a "deep state" attack against President Trump. An individual going by the name "Q" first posted his theories back in 2017. The group has since falsely accused actors and politicians of running a child sex trafficking ring. Recently, attacks fell on celebrity Chrissy Teigen after she spoke out against Twitter critics who claimed the company was wrongfully censoring users.
Medviovic says that while QAnon is considered mostly a fringe movement, its messaging and actions are reaching the mainstream. Once it begins to incite violence, First Amendment protections are no longer guaranteed, Medviovic said.
Plus, Twitter is a private platform that can set its own rules and restrictions.
"I think the issue here is that it was bleeding into the real world and potentially encroaching on people's safety," Medviovic said. "I can definitely see something like QAnon being checked more consistently across the board."
Twitter says it no longer highlights QAnon posts in search and trending topics and will block URLs associated with the conspiracy theory from being shared on its site.
"As we work at scale to protect the public conversation in the face of evolving threats, we'll continue to lead with transparency and offer more context on our efforts," Twitter wrote.
'The Interchange' Launches to Connect L.A. Startups to Potential Recruits
VC firm Crosscut announced Wednesday the launch of a new, free platform for L.A.-based jobseekers, built in partnership with PledgeLA and the Annenberg Foundation.
The listings of L.A. startup jobs is called the "Interchange." It aggregates startup jobs across the city in an effort to make early-stage tech opportunities more open and accessible.
PledgeLA is an initiative sponsored by the Annenberg Foundation and the mayor of Los Angeles to promote civic engagement and diversity within the tech community. Its 222 signatories span L.A.'s venture capital and tech community, all of whom have pledged to work toward improving equity and transparent reporting on their diversity efforts.
The Interchange uses the Monday.vc platform, which is now called Getro, to aggregate regional startup jobs rather than relying on companies to post opportunities on job boards or LinkedIn, said Calvin Selth, AnnenbergTech's program lead. The platform automatically scrapes each company's career page daily to make sure its listings are up to date.
One result from PledgeLA's 2nd annual survey found that underrepresented minorities were less likely to get their jobs through referrals. Interchange is an attempt to offer "a place to direct local underrepresented jobseekers to startup opportunities here in LA," Selth said. "We felt like this was a way to increase transparency about available roles while also helping startups that need build more diverse talent pipelines."
The platform focuses on startups that have fewer than 1,000 employees, is primarily a tech company, headquartered or has a technical team in L.A., makes more than $1 million in annual revenue or raises more than $1 million in venture capital, was founded after 2010 and is privately held, Selth said.
Crosscut head of platform, Nick Kim, said that early-stage tech startups are often cash constrained so post jobs on their own boards or use their networks to fill the top of hiring funnels.
"For marginalized or underrepresented people looking for high growth opportunities in tech, this means they might never see the best jobs before they're filled," Kim said. "Our goal is for all communities in LA, especially those who are not well represented in tech, to have access to the opportunities tech startups are hiring for. We hope that Interchange becomes a starting point for the promising talent that might have previously had less access to opportunity."
LA-Based CreatorIQ Marketing Platform Picks up $24M
CreatorIQ is expanding their cloud after announcing today that they raised $24 million in a series C round.
The investment was led by Kayne Partners Fund with contributions from Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, L.P., TVC Capital and Unilever Ventures.
The Los Angeles-based marketing software company was founded in 2014 and recently named a leader in the "Forrester New Wave: Influencer Marketing Solutions Report." It's now among Forrester's list of rapidly growing software programs.
CVS, Disney, H&M, Mattel, Salesforce, Sephora and Unilever are some of the many well-known companies that already use CreatorIQ's platform to collect and analyze their marketing data for discovery, workflow and privacy.
The $24 million raised will allow the company to enter new partnerships with Collectively, Digital Brand Architects, Everywhere Agency, ShopStyle Collective and Sway Group. The funds will also allow CreatorIQ to expand its current data offerings and further develop elements of their system's user experience, data science and paid media components.
"As Marketing leaders accelerate their transformation strategies to close their in-house gaps across their marketing capabilities, they are uniting best-in-class technologies with leading data providers," said Igor Vaks, CreatorIQ's founder and CEO in a press release.
The company will also soon introduce a new learning machine it said will use analytics to power visual insights and, in turn, increase brand safety, content prediction, and recommendations. Called One60, the program will allow CreatorIQ's companies to host their own technology and data in one place.
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Despite a Black Swan event enveloping the world and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, plenty of Los Angeles startups continue to survive and even thrive during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, many of the winners are beneficiaries of the stay-at-home economy, offering consumers entertainment, education, workouts and shopping from the safety of their living rooms.
By now, you are probably familiar with Quibi, which tops our list of the dot.LA/ Pitchbook hottest L.A. startups despite a rocky debut with bad buzz and reports of anemic subscriber numbers. Hollywood veteran Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP and eBay CEO Meg Whitman raised close to $2 billion in funding to launch a mobile version of Netflix, capital they will surely need now as they to regroup and hang on for a day when people are again commuting to work.
Number two on our list is the much lower profile streaming company Generation Genius, which has benefited from students not being able to return to the classroom. The Sherman Oaks startup aims to make learning about science fun by making short and entertaining lessons and quizzes for kindergarteners through fifth graders.
For adults missing the gym, FitOn was number three. Backed by Crosscut Ventures, the two-year-old app provides free on-demand group fitness classes and allows users to socialize with friends during a workout and compete via a live leaderboard.
"FitOn has become the #1 free fitness app and grown rapidly with COVID as people can no longer make it to the gym," wrote Lindsay Cook, co-founder and CEO of FitOn in an e-mail. "Since the start of the pandemic, we've experienced massive increases all around. We have seen over 200% growth in workouts, signups, and friends are working out together."
Verishop Inc., an e-commerce site led by former Snap Inc. executive Imran Khan, is at number four. Already with a hefty pre-money valuation of $87.5 million, the company aims to make online shopping fun through "social commerce." Last month, it launched a social media-like feed of photos and videos on its iPhone app that recommends products based on which content users like.
The smallest of our top five is TopHap. It's still in beta and has raised $675,000 in angel funding. TopHap bills itself as the first AI-powered analytics platform to optimize realtor performance.
Here are the rest of the top 50. (Read about our methodology and how we determine the top startups below)
What gets a company on the list?
First, the company had to be founded between 2015-2020. Then PitchBook data scientists assigned a growth rate and size multiple equally. The growth rate represents the average weekly percentage change in a company's signals. It is calculated by averaging the weekly growth rate over a trailing eight-week period. For example, let's say a company's Web Growth Rate (SimilarWeb Unique Visitors and Majestic Referring Domains) was 10% each week for 4 weeks, and followed by an increase of 30% for the next 4 weeks. During that eight-week period, the combined weekly average growth rate was 20%.
The size multiple is the sum of a company's signals divided by the median company signal size. For example, if a company had 1,000 SimilarWeb Unique Visitors and the universal median for all companies in the platform was 500 SimilarWeb Unique Visitors, then the company's SimilarWeb Size Multiple would be 2x. A company's overall Size Multiple is calculated by averaging the Size Multiples from the following Signals: Social, Web, Employee, and Mobile Size.
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Loom started off in a Los Angeles storefront along Pico Boulevard offering education and events around women's health issues like fertility, periods, menopause, sex and postpartum depression.
Created by Erica Chidi and Quin Lundberg in 2016, the wellbeing startup moved online a few months ago as the pandemic shut down business and this week announced a $3 million raise led by Slow Ventures to roll out its digital health education platform.
- Trump could order ByteDance to divest of TikTok today, Bloomberg reports
- HBCUvc and PledgeLA offer $5,000 grants to founders from HBCUs
HBCUvc and PledgeLA offer $5,000 grants to founders from HBCUs<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ1OTg0Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0Nzk2NDIxM30.USZ0uaglvnNlRachpixeUdJ2El5XbF51jkqBoAEyUpo/img.png?width=980" id="2e0e1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="669fea31b69e26838e22a13d9e6a2288" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>HBCUvu, a non-profit increasing racial diversity in venture capital, has partnered with PledgeLA to provide $5,000 grants to startup founders from historically Black colleges and universities. The program, dubbed the The Summer Lab Fund, is now accepting applications through August 6.</p><p>Supported by Crosscut Ventures, the <a href="https://blog.hbcu.vc/pledgela-announces-fund-for-hbcu-entrepreneurs-d688eeda3681" target="_blank">fund</a> will award equity-free grants to technology and tech-enabled startups founded by HBCU students and alumni. Selected startups will also receive mentorship and support from participating sponsors as well as access to HBCUvc and PlegeLA networks. </p><p>The funding opportunity, launched last week, is managed and operated by the current cohort of PledgeLA VC interns who were matched at firms across Los Angeles in a 10-week program.</p><p>PledgeLA is a cohort of tech companies and VC firms created by the Annenberg Foundation and the mayor of Los Angeles. Last week, the organization <a href="https://dot.la/pledgelas-2nd-annual-survey-finds-women-non-whites-still-lack-equity-representation-2646415502.html" target="_self">released</a> results from its annual survey on diversity in tech companies across the city. </p><p>Current intern Evan Hamilton told dot.LA the plan is to establish the Lab Fund as an annual project. Although it only has three spots now, he said, if demand is high enough they will look to raise more funds. </p><p>"What I really hope for, as a result of this, is to encourage that pipeline of investors to go to HBCUs to find interesting entrepreneurial talents because as we've seen many times, most folks are in hoodies coming from Stanford," Hamilton said. </p><p>"Five thousand dollars is a nominal amount of money, but what it does is give someone that ability to say, 'I am an entrepreneur, I have been funded,'" Hamilton said. "It really doesn't take a lot to validate a lot of the thoughts, feelings and opinions that people have. If we're doing this correctly, we're going to help these companies grow, even the ones that aren't able to receive funding."</p><p>He said it hopes to dispel preconceived notions and encourage investors to look toward HBCUs for talent.</p><p>After applications close on August 6, interns will form an investment committee to present and review the interested companies, which come from industries including entertainment tech, retail, education services and sports. Winners of the fund will be announced August 14.</p><p>PledgeLA intern Liza Katsman hopes the thinking behind this initiative will one day extend beyond the HBCU ecosystem. She pointed out that entrepreneurs of different backgrounds - that had largely been excluded from tech companies - bring new perspectives and ideas that can turn into successful products or services.</p><p>"Diversity and inclusion is not just the right thing to do," Katsman said. "It's the smart thing to do." </p><p><em>dot.LA is a member of PledgeLA.</em></p>
Trump and Microsoft Are Looking at TikTok<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODQ3Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzI2Nzc5OH0.nqOLhJhVWxeEzL1-Bs6w7LNxiiNnnx0-o7rlFhF1f1w/img.jpg?width=980" id="b7b3a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7ac4ba0a2e1685d81d3a3c2cedb4b6b8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Amazon Tells Employees to Delete TikTok, Then Claims Directive Was Sent in Error<p>Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok as President Donald Trump plans to ban it, <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-to-sign-order-demanding-chinas-bytedance-to-divest-tiktok-11596219920?mod=hp_lead_pos1" target="_blank">various</a> <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-to-sign-order-demanding-chinas-bytedance-to-divest-tiktok-11596219920?mod=hp_lead_pos1" target="_blank">media</a> reported Friday. </p><p>TikTok has come under increasing pressure from the administration that Chinese Internet company ByteDance is sharing data with Beijing and has threatened to ban it. <br></p><p><a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-31/trump-to-order-china-s-bytedance-to-sell-tiktok-u-s-operations-kdaib6eb" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a><em> </em>reported the Trump administration had planned to order ByteDance to divest of the Culver City-based company as early as Friday. </p><p> Microsoft could alter the question of ownership. It's unclear how advanced the talks are.<br></p><p>The White House could immediately be reached for comment. </p><p>But in an emailed statement a spokeswoman for TikTok said, "While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok." </p><p>Trump's move would not come as a surprise. He told reporters on Friday: "We're looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok. We may be doing some other things. There's a couple of options."</p><p>Earlier this month, Trump suggested he would ban the app as punishment over China's handling of the coronavirus. Those comments came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo <a href="https://dot.la/could-u-s-ban-chinese-owned-tiktok-2646359784/could-the-u-s-ban-chinese-owned-tiktok" target="_blank">told Fox News </a>that the United States is considering whether to restrict TikTok and other social media apps amid concerns that information was being shared with China's communist government. </p><p>"We are taking this very seriously and we are certainly looking at it," Pompeo <a href="https://www.foxnews.com/media/mike-pompeo-tik-tok-china-communist-social-media-spying-fox-ingraham" target="_blank">said</a>. </p><p>In March, another Chinese company, Beijing Kunlun Tech sold the West Hollywood-based gay dating app Grindr for more than $600 million after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States forced it to divest. </p><p>Two months later, Beijing-based parent company ByteDance appointed Kevin Mayer, once widely considered Bob Iger's heir apparent at The Walt Disney company, to head TikTok in a move that would help distance itself from its Beijing parent company. </p><p><span></span>TikTok, has around 30 million active users and has increasingly become a favorite of advertisers to sell their products among the youth-oriented social media app. <br></p>
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