Watch: How S'More's Founder Wants to Make Online Dating 'Something More' Meaningful

Kelly O'Grady
Kelly O'Grady is dot.LA's chief host & correspondent. Kelly serves as dot.LA's on-air talent, and is responsible for designing and executing all video efforts. A former management consultant for McKinsey, and TV reporter for NESN, she also served on Disney's Corporate Strategy team, focusing on M&A and the company's direct-to-consumer streaming efforts. Kelly holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. A Boston native, Kelly spent a year as Miss Massachusetts USA, and can be found supporting her beloved Patriots every Sunday come football season.
Watch: How S'More's Founder Wants to Make Online Dating 'Something More' Meaningful

Dating — whether online or IRL — is hard enough in Los Angeles. In a city so spread out, many romances face an uphill battle. Even a Hollywood-Santa Monica relationship can often fall into the long-distance category. Add the pandemic on top of it all, and L.A. singles are in a tricky spot. Many people have long been skeptical that online dating can be a way to find a real relationship. But with everything going virtual these days, there is little choice for those looking for love.

Adam Cohen-Aslatei thinks he can help you find "something more."


In this installment of dot.LA Dives In, we talk with Cohen-Aslatei, the founder and CEO of S'More, an online dating app that seeks to provide users with an anti-superficial path to love. S'More, which stands for "something more," expanded to the city a few months ago.

But what makes this app different than the many other offerings in the space? The pictures are blurred out. Gone are the days of endless swiping based on good looks or that bad photo with the haircut your friends begged you not to get (we've all been there). In order to see what your potential love looks like, you will have to get to know them a bit first.

As you start to chat more with someone, their pictures come into focus. And if you don't want to meet in person during a global pandemic, S'More has you covered. Users can initiate a video chat where both sides are blurred for the first two minutes. If both agree to see each other, the blurring goes away.

Drawing comparisons to the Netflix hit "Love is Blind," S'More was born out of a mission to provide singles a space to find a deeper connection. "The average person spends 30 milliseconds on a swipe — that is how much brain power they devote to what is hot or not," he said. "It works if you want a casual encounter. It does not work if you want a relationship."

In his quest to root out superficiality, Cohen-Aslatei has taken S'More one step further. The dating app does not have race or ethnicity filters. It is all part of building a brand-first company that stands for more than a product or feature.

"Our app says, 'you deserve something more. Are you ready for something more?' And the connotation is being anti-superficial. So if we stand for anti-superficial, then everything we do must support that brand."

S'More is also creating content around that theme. Its "S'More Live Happy Hour" — a weekly celebrity dating show on Instagram — is a stripped down look at how the stars struggle with relationships, just like us. The show features personalities like model and entrepreneur Olivia Culpo and cast members from "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," all discussing their crazy experiences and serving advice on how to best navigate the dating world.

"It's a forum to bring up what is happening in the world and disguise it a bit under dating," Cohen-Aslatei said. "Really to have a fun conversation, and for the fans to get to know the celebrity in a different way."

Think of it as getting a little 'something more' from a celebrity. And Cohen-Aslatei's favorite story from the show? You'll have to watch the interview to find out, but suffice to say, dog-walking in Central Park can get a little messy.

And while virtual dating has become a necessity for those looking to connect during COVID, is this trend here to stay? Cohen-Aslatei says yes. The pandemic has forced people to reflect on things that they don't have - and with 50% of millennials being single, finding a serious partner is becoming increasingly more important.

"You might have a great job, and a great set of friends, but during COVID, you are home alone. And that's not a good feeling," Cohen-Aslatei said. "Virtual dating is not going anywhere. It's basically becoming the way that you screen 'should I meet this person? Is it worth my time to leave my house?'"

Watch a shortened version above and catch the full interview here:

FULL: S'More CEO & Founder Discusses the Anti-Superficial Dating Appwww.youtube.com

To check out S'More, you can download it here.

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Kelly O'Grady runs video and serves as the chief host & correspondent for dot.LA. Find her on Instagram @kfogrady and email her at kelly@dot.LA.

https://www.instagram.com/kfogrady/
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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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‘Crypto Winter’ and the Future of Sports Sponsorships

Steve Huff
Steve Huff is an Editor and Reporter at dot.LA. Steve was previously managing editor for The Metaverse Post and before that deputy digital editor for Maxim magazine. He has written for Inside Hook, Observer and New York Mag. Steve is the author of two official tie-ins books for AMC’s hit “Breaking Bad” prequel, “Better Call Saul.” He’s also a classically-trained tenor and has performed with opera companies and orchestras all over the Eastern U.S. He lives in the greater Boston metro area with his wife, educator Dr. Dana Huff.
silver and gold round coins
Photo by Art Rachen on Unsplash

Between 2020 and 2021, a cryptocurrency boom led several crypto-oriented companies to ink deals with athletic organizations like the NBA and UFC. One of the bigger deals was blockchain giant Crypto.com signing a $700 million deal with the Staples Center—one of the world's largest sports and entertainment venues—in Los Angeles. The Singapore-based company also signed agreements with the UFC and Formula 1 for promotion at various sports venues and on athletic equipment.

Crypto.com wasn't the only crypto company to extend its reach into sports or entertainment. In exchange for naming rights to the Miami Heat's arena for 19 years, FTX, a cryptocurrency derivatives exchange, paid $135 million. And in an exclusive deal, Coinbase became the exclusive cryptocurrency exchange for the WNBA, NBA, and NBA G League.

Rolling into 2022, there was little warning that crypto winter was coming.

Winter Is Here

In May, the major stablecoin TerraUSD lost its peg to the US dollar. In one day alone, TerraUSD lost $60 billion in value. After that, major crypto lender Celsius suspended withdrawals, citing liquidity problems. The company followed up by filing for bankruptcy.

They were just among the first dominos to topple in the crypto world, and many others soon fell. As a National Research Group (NRG) report about the state of the cryptocurrency industry noted, the market has gone "down over 70% from the highs it reached towards the end of 2021, and many of the most popular coins are trading at less than half of where they were at the beginning of the year."

As the NRG report also notes, the crypto market has undergone "dramatic" corrections before. Is the current crypto winter that different? And more importantly, will crypto winter freeze the budding love affair between entertainment, pro sports, and cryptocurrency?

According to NRG, "crypto winter" has affected the public view of cryptocurrency in various ways.

For example, NRG reports that "70% of consumers feel they have at least a 'moderate' understanding of cryptocurrencies." If accurate, that’s a notable change from a YouGov survey conducted in June 2021 which found that 69% of Americans agreed with the statement, “I don’t really understand cryptocurrency.”

On the other hand, at least 61% of people surveyed said they were aware of the "crypto crash" or "crypto winter." It seems the heavy and negative news coverage of crypto winter over the last three months has considerably boosted consumer awareness—of the crashing market.

NRG notes, "This isn't a technological novelty anymore; increasingly, having some knowledge of crypto and how it works is seen as an element of baseline financial literacy."

Even though consumers have been exposed to a large number of crypto news stories, however, NRG reports that few bother to do deeper research. Bitcoin remains the most well-known name, and consumer awareness of other coins like ETH, Dogecoin, or even popular meme coin Shiba Inu hasn't increased much since the beginning of 2022. Even with the media's attention to TerraUSD de-pegging from the dollar (arguably one of crypto's most significant events in recent memory), only 7% of consumers are familiar with the term "stablecoin."

Crypto sponsorships continue…mostly

Crypto.com’s Al D’Agostino gave a succinct response to dot.LA when we reached out for further comment on the company's association with the Staples Center: "Crypto.com remains fully committed to its sports sponsorships. We are well financed and these are multiyear contracts, which will continue to play a crucial role in our mission to accelerate the world's transition to cryptocurrency."

While the New York Post reported in late June that FTX had backed out of sponsorship negotiations with the Los Angeles Angels, the crypto exchange has taken on new sponsorship obligations with a $210 million naming deal for pro esports team TSM, aka Team SoloMid.

But as recently as August 2, the Voyager cryptocurrency exchange backed out of a multi-year sponsorship deal with the US National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). In addition, the exchange is facing bankruptcy after its CEO made millions at the 2021 peak of the cryptocurrency boom.

In comments accompanying its crypto winter report, NRG's Global Head of Insights, Marlon Cumberbatch, said "that the crypto crash hasn't done much to dampen Americans' enthusiasm toward cryptocurrencies – for investors, the recent crash is just the latest in a long series of ups and downs, rather than the start of a terminal decline."

Cumberbatch also offered advice on how companies as big as pro sports teams and small as local businesses might strategize to survive crypto winter. "Start engaging openly and constructively with policymakers," Cumberbatch said, "continue to invest in educating consumers about the technology and promote practical use cases for crypto…"

Cumberbatch also encouraged better cryptocurrency education for everyone. From the C-suite to the penny crypto investor in the street, people need to understand better what they're getting into. "Recent media coverage has done a lot to increase consumer awareness of crypto," he said, "it's not the same as increasing understanding. It's critical that consumers know enough about the technology to be able to make informed decisions and protect themselves from unnecessary risk."

Cumberbatch did not respond immediately after dot.LA reached out for specific comments about crypto company sponsorships such as the Crypto.com and Staples Center deal.

Where do we go from here?

The NRG report on the general state of crypto did not predict doom and gloom but noted that the crypto landscape "is vast, complex, and constantly in flux."

"More than anything else," the report continued, "recent events in the crypto market have made it clear that there's a need to educate potential investors. Before they buy-in, it's vital that consumers understand the technology on more than just a surface level—and that they know enough about crypto to be able to make informed decisions and protect themselves from unnecessary risk. And today's leading crypto firms will have a pivotal role to play in facilitating that educational journey."

Cryptocurrency exchanges have benefited more from their sponsorships than the sponsored organizations, and at minimum, crypto winter has put a dent in more multimillion-dollar deals for now. But if the National Research Group's report proves prescient, this may be a temporary lull in cryptocurrency-oriented companies paying big money for widespread name recognition. Crypto.com arena is here to stay…for now. If crypto winter gives way to a crypto spring, we could see more Coinbase stadiums and Bored Ape Yacht Club restaurants soon.

steve@dot.la

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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