🔦 Spotlight

Terray Therapeutics is at the forefront of AI-assisted drug discovery and development, operating a cutting-edge laboratory in Monrovia, California. The facility, roughly two-thirds the size of a football field, functions as a data powerhouse, generating over 50 terabytes of raw data daily, which is an amount of information equivalent to 12,000 high definition movies, through its miniaturized automation processes.

Terray Therapeutics exemplifies a new wave of innovative companies harnessing artificial intelligence to revolutionize drug discovery and development. The key to their approach lies in generating vast amounts of high-quality experimental data to train their AI systems. This data-driven strategy enables rapid experimentation and pattern recognition, allowing the AI to make informed predictions about potential treatments. Terray's generative AI can digitally design drug molecules, which are then synthesized and tested in their high-speed automated laboratory. The platform measures the interaction between these molecules and target proteins, with both successful and unsuccessful results feeding back into the AI system.

This iterative process creates a powerful feedback loop, continuously refining the AI's predictive capabilities and accelerating the drug discovery process. Terray's tNova platform integrates chemical experimentation and computation at an unprecedented scale, producing massive amounts of precise, purpose-built data that becomes increasingly valuable with each cycle of design and experimentation. This unique blend of experimentation and computation allows Terray to efficiently explore a vast molecular space, potentially solving complex problems in drug discovery faster and more effectively than traditional methods.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • Fuze Technology, a provider of rentable portable phone chargers, has raised a $11.5M Series A led by Beverly Pacific and joined by Palm Tree Crew, Bain Capital Ventures Scout Fund, Dream Ventures, Live Nation, ASM Global, SCIENCE Ventures, Haslem Sports Group, and Simon Ventures. - learn more
  • Stanly, a platform that offers fan-to-fan and artist-to-fan communication and commerce, raised an $8M Funding Round led by C Capital and joined by AppWorks, Goodwater, and Palm Drive Capital. - learn more
  • GrayMatter, an industrial robotics company, raised a $45M Series B led by Wellington Management and joined by NGP Capital, Euclidean Capital, Advance Venture Partners, SQN Venture Partners, 3M Ventures, B Capital, Bow Capital, Calibrate Ventures, OCA Ventures, and Swift Ventures. - learn more

LA Venture Funds

LA Exits

  • Webtoon Entertainment, an online cartoon company based in LA carved out of South Korea's Naver, set IPO terms to 15m shares at $18-$21. It would have a $2.6b fully diluted market value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (WBTN). - learn more
  • EV maker Fisker has finally filed for bankruptcy. - learn more
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🔦 Spotlight

Executives in the media and entertainment industry are betting that AI can be a positive force by augmenting human creativity in addition to increasing efficiency. These companies range from brand new startups like Strada, an AI-enabled cloud platform with tools for production and postproduction to more established AI-powered companies including Invisible Universe, developing family friendly franchises on social media, and Toonstar, developing irreverent adult franchises on web3. This is not to mention the incumbent Hollywood studios who are snapping up AI talent while their hands are full with a striking workforce worried about AI.

We had the opportunity to delve into how ToonStar uses AI and web3 to create community-driven franchises.✍️🤝🤖

🏃♀️ Quick hits

The Founder: John Attanasio and Luisa Huang are both Hollywood veterans. Prior to launching Toonstar, John spent nearly fifteen years developing franchise properties and driving innovation at Warner Bros. and DreamWorks where he held roles in marketing, business development, digital content creation and tech commercialization. Luisa also spent over a decade at entertainment behemoths such as Disney and Warner Bros. holding a variety of roles in strategy, consumer products, business development, and digital content creation.

The Company: Today, Toonstar is an interactive story studio focused on creating entertainment franchises through community-driven storytelling. In essence, it bridges the creative minds in the writing room with everyday fans, inviting them to actively participate in the content creation process. This unique process is made possible through technology, namely Web3, blockchain, and AI.

LA Connection: Toonstar is headquartered in Los Angeles and is deeply integrated with the Los Angeles entertainment ecosystem given the extensive industry experience of its founders.

Toonstar, founded about eight years ago by Disney, Warner Bros., and Dreamworks veterans John Attanasio and Luisa Huang, operates as an interactive story studio. Its main focus is on building entertainment franchises through community-driven storytelling. Essentially, Toonstar connects writers with everyday fans, allowing them to actively participate in content creation. This unique collaboration is made possible through technology, including Web3, blockchain, and AI.

The Role of Blockchain and NFT in Franchises:

Toonstar uses blockchain technology and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) as a key part of its approach. They distribute NFTs representing characters in their franchises to the community. NFT owners can then shape their character's backstory, with more NFTs giving greater voting power in deciding the story's direction. The creative process at Toonstar is similar to traditional studios, where writers create scripts for each episode. However, there's a twist - each episode ends with a cliffhanger, and the community decides what happens next. These choices are presented for voting, sometimes with full creative freedom. Toonstar's machine learning tools facilitate this interaction, blending fan input with professional storytelling seamlessly.

The Role of AI in Franchises:

At first, AI mainly sped up episode creation behind the scenes. But gradually, it moved beyond that and became part of the community-facing aspect. In "Space Junk," Welbecca became the first AI-voiced character, serving as both a character and a tool to help NFT owners develop their characters and stories.

The upcoming Toonstar franchise, "Fortun3," goes even further in integrating AI. It includes an AI-powered simulation game that blends with the episodes, adding a real-time dimension to the storytelling, coinciding with the FTX trial.

Exploring Toonstar's Franchises:

Toonstar has made its mark with past franchises like "The Gimmicks" and "Space Junk." "Gimmicks" was the first interactive TV series in the Web3 realm, co-produced with Mila Kunis, featuring a comedic storyline about wrestlers. "Space Junk," created by Dominic Russo, explored humor among space garbage collectors.

Toonstar is not oblivious to the fact that anything related to blockchain is out of favor with the public, in fact, it is the subject of their next franchise. "Fortun3" is inspired by the FTX implosion, mixing elements of "South Park," "Silicon Valley," and "BoJack Horseman," and will feature T.J. Miller from "Silicon Valley."

While entertainment titans are in the midst of a hiring frenzy still trying to grapple with how best to incorporate generative AI into their business practices, Toonstar is one of many creative businesses driving progress by innovating their way past the enormous barriers to entry in standard production companies. As the entertainment industry evolves, Toonstar's dedication to inclusivity and innovation is creating opportunities for new voices and unique storytelling experiences. 🎭🎬🌟

Want to invest in real estate but don’t have the time or money to buy and manage a whole property?

Investors are flocking to Arrived, a Jeff Bezos-backed real estate investing platform that even Zillow Co-founder Spencer Rascoff loves using. It's a beautiful app and web platform that already has over 353,000 people who have invested over $100M in real estate properties. We don't blame them - Arrived takes the guesswork out. You just:

  • Browse expert curated vacation rentals and long-term rentals (only <0.2% of properties pass their expert diligence process before being offered to you)
  • With just a few clicks, select the properties you like and invest anywhere from $100 to $50,000+ per property
  • Sit back while Arrived takes care of the management and operations for you. Simple.

Real estate has outperformed the S&P 500 over the past 20 years as an asset class - but it's not easy to get into. Arrived's seamless platform fixes this. So what's stopping you from becoming a real estate mogul?

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Startups

  • Afterparty, a fan connection and monetization platform for creators, raised a $5M Funding Round led by Blockchange Ventures, joined by Acrew Capital, Act One Ventures, Tamarack Global and Wilson Sonsin. - learn more
  • Bevz, a software platform for independently operated and small chain liquor/convenience stores raised a $3.1M Funding Round led by Dynamism Capital and Golden Section Ventures with participation from Stage 2 Capital, Hustle Fund, Bridge Investments, Tiller Partners, Irish Angels and others.- learn more
  • Gametree, a cross-platform gamer social network and universal gamer login system, raised a $1.75M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Estate Media, a personality driven real estate media company, raised a $1.65M Funding Round from investors including Powerhouse Capital, Upstate Shredding CEO Adam Weitsman and others. - learn more
LA Funds
  • WndrCo participated in a $100M Series B for Writer, a three-year-old San Francisco startup that uses LLMs trained on extensive online text datasets to improve corporate content creation. - learn more

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Friday, September 22nd

Monday, September 25th

  • Tech Networking - Studio City🗽 - Join other tech enthusiasts at an exceptional gathering, attracting diverse professionals from all corners of the tech industry, including investors, founders, marketers, sales experts, engineers, and more.

Wednesday, September 27th

Thursday, September 28th

🗽 - Free

📙 What We’re Reading

  • Deloitte AI Institute's new Generative AI Dossier reveals key business-ready use cases for Generative AI Deployment. - read more
  • See how compensation at startups has changed significantly in 2023 in Carta’s State of Startup Compensation, H1 2023 Report. - read more
  • Listen to (or read) an engaging conversation between Minnie Ingersoll, Partner at TenOneTen, and Adrian Fenty, founding managing partner at MaC Venture Capital and former mayor of Washington, DC. In this episode, Adrian dives into the intersections of government and technology. - listen here
Kristin Snyder

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Digital marketing agencies have already had to upend their practices to keep up with TikTok’s swift trend cycle. Now, they’re facing another challenge: AI.

On Thursday, marketing experts and AI founders gathered in Playa Vista to discuss how the emerging technology will disrupt the industry.

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