Rivian Shareholder Sues Over Electric Vehicle Pricing Saga

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.

Rivian Shareholder Sues Over Electric Vehicle Pricing Saga
Rivian Files to Go Public, As Its Electric Trucks Prepare to Ship

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Electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian is under fire again for the manner in which it has priced its cars.

In the wake of Rivian’s move last week to increase prices up to 20% on both its electric pickup truck and electric SUV, a Rivian shareholder has now sued the Irvine-based company for failing to disclose to investors that its cars were “underpriced” and that it would need to adjust accordingly.

Rivian shareholder Charles Crews filed the securities lawsuit on Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The complaint, which is seeking class-action status, alleges that the startup misled investors in the run-up to its November initial public offering by failing to publicly disclose that its vehicles “were underpriced to such a degree that Rivian would have to raise prices shortly after the IPO.”

The lawsuit also cites the customer backlash in response to the price hikes, adding that the automaker failed to disclose that they “would tarnish Rivian’s reputation as a trustworthy and transparency company and would put a significant number of the existing backlog of 55,400 pre-orders along with future pre-orders in jeopardy of cancellation.”

Rivian subsequently backtracked on the price increase last week, with CEO RJ Scaringe apologizing to customers and reinstated the original prices for those who had already pre-ordered their cars. The price hikes, which Scaringe attributed to rising production costs, remain in effect for new orders.

Crews’ lawsuit described Rivian’s backtracking as a “futile attempt at damage control.” The stockholder purchased 35 shares of Rivian stock on the company’s first day of trading on Nov. 10, at a price of $112.83 per share, according to the complaint. While Rivian’s IPO saw it briefly become the world’s third-most valuable automaker, the stock has lost nearly 60% value since the start of this year. It has taken an especially sharp fall since Rivian announced the price hikes—declining more than 37% since the close of trading Feb. 28, to $42.21 at Tuesday’s close.

“As we plead in the complaint, we see that it's clear that the company probably knew that some of these price increases were going to be necessary, but didn't tell that to investors when they filed their IPO,” Crews’ attorney, Jacob Allen Walker of law firm Block & Leviton, told dot.LA. “We wouldn't have filed if we didn't think it was a strong case,” Walker said, adding that securities laws governing investor disclosures “are very strict about IPOs.”

When reached for comment, a Rivian spokesperson said the company would not comment on ongoing litigation.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.