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LA Tech Updates: EV-Makers Rivian, Fisker, Karma Get Super-charged; Facebook issue crashes TikTok

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:

  • Tesla shares soar, Fisker rumored to go public, Karma gets $100m
  • Facebook issues crash TikTok, Pinterest, Spotify

      A Super-Charged Electric Vehicle Market: Rivian, Fisker and Karma Rake in Funds

      Rivian Automotive is the maker of electric pickup trucks.

      Tesla's success has super-charged investor interest in the electric vehicle market.

      Exhibit A is the two Southern California-based electric car makers, Fisker and Karma, which secured millions in funding this week as they sought to ramp up production. Then came word Fisker, created by one-time Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker, is now in talks to go public through a sale to a so-called blank-check acquisition company, Reuters reported on Thursday.

      Today, Detroit-based Rivian Automotive, maker of electric pickup trucks that's backed in part by Ford Motor Co., announced that it secured $2.5 billion in funding from private investors.

      The race to push out more electric vehicles comes as after Tesla supplanted Toyota as the most valuable car maker. Its shares have been soaring and it now has a market cap that stands at over $285 billion despite controversies and a much lower production volume.

      Spartan Energy is bidding against other special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs as they are called, to bring Fisker public through a reverse merger, according to the report. Spartan is backed by Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm.

      With a freshly secured $50 million in private funds, Fisker plans to sell the Fisker Ocean luxury electric SUV at a starting price of $37,500 in 2022. Fisker's previous venture Fisker Automotive fell into bankruptcy in 2013 and was bought by a Chinese group that rebranded it Karma. That company, which has been struggling after several layoff rounds and restructuring, is Karma and earlier this week secured $100 million from investors. It hopes to use that to raise a total of $300 million and roll out a line of electric vehicles.

      Facebook issue crashes Spotify, TikTok, Pinterest

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      If you were trying to use a handful of iOS apps including Spotify, TikTok and Pinterest Friday morning chances are you couldn't get in because of a Facebook log-in issue.

      The hiccup came from Facebook's software development kit (SDK), which several apps rely on to operate. Developers use SDK for users who want to sign in with their Facebook account.

      "Earlier today, a code change triggered crashes for some iOS apps using the Facebook SDK," Facebook's developer site announced. "We identified the issue quickly and resolved it. We apologize for any inconvenience."

      The crash hit some of the biggest apps.

      "Something's out of tune," Spotify's Status account said on Twitter in the early morning. "We're currently investigating, and we'll keep you posted here!"

      It's the second time this year the Facebook interface has caused a crash.

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      NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are a novel form of ownership that could rejigger the financial landscape for creators. Even if the market for some of them proves frothy, this blockchain-based technology presents a unique way for artists to make money and engage their fans. With experimentation already underway, the gates are open for them to do what they do best: get creative.

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      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

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      Thanks to a sizzling startup scene and a receding pandemic, Los Angeles investors are feeling more optimistic this spring than they did at the end of last year.

      They are expecting robust hiring, increasing valuations and a quick recovery of the U.S. economy, according to the dot.LA VC Sentiment Survey, a quarterly poll of the top VCs in Los Angeles.

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      Ben Bergman

      Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

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