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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

      farm5.staticflickr.com

      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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      California is the world's largest legal pot market, generating nearly $3.1 billion in spending in the Golden State alone. But cannabis-related businesses in the U.S. live in a legal-limbo, operating in this strange gray area between federal laws that make marijuana illegal and states that have decriminalized its use and sale entirely. This has led to sometimes difficult choices, workarounds and issues with which the cannabis and cannabis-linked companies are forced to contend.

      dot.LA dove into this tenuous landscape during a virtual panel discussion on Tuesday with experts in cannabis compliance and legal issues, asking them: Is the green rush over? The consensus seemed to be that no, it isn't, but this first wave of "reckless money," likely is.

      Tuesday's conversation on the current state and future of California's marijuana marketplace capped off the conclusion of dot.LA's five-part investigative series examining the rapid rise and rapid fall of L.A.-based Genius Fund, a one-time $164 million cannabis company. Today that money is gone and their Russian oligarch investor is dead.

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      When the founders who lead the ten young startups selected for the 2020 Techstars LA class begin their three month accelerator program Monday, they won't be gathering in the Mid-Wilshire office and shaking hands as every other class has done. Like the rest of us, they will be working at home because of the coronavirus. Dinners, meetings, socializing, and mentoring sessions will all be online.

      "A big part of the magic of the program is the relationships that are from proximity and from everyone working together in the same space and so what we're doing is we're endeavoring to create as much as that connection in the virtual world as possible," said Anna Barber, managing director of Techstars LA.

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