Snap Launches Bitmoji TV, Starring Your Friends — and Randy Jackson

Tami Abdollah

Tami Abdollah was dot.LA's senior technology reporter. She was previously a national security and cybersecurity reporter for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C. She's been a reporter for the AP in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times and for L.A.'s NPR affiliate KPCC. Abdollah spent nearly a year in Iraq as a U.S. government contractor. A native Angeleno, she's traveled the world on $5 a day, taught trad climbing safety classes and is an avid mountaineer. Follow her on Twitter.

Snap Launches Bitmoji TV, Starring Your Friends — and Randy Jackson
Courtesy Snap Inc.

Snap Inc. is launching itself anew into the short-form videosphere in 2020 with Bitmoji TV, upping its popular avatar feature to present personalized live-action comic strips of you and your friends. A spokesperson says Thursday that their global release will start in February; it's an effort that may help Snap counter the surging use of TikTok, especially among Gen Z users.


The Santa Monica-based company launched its precursor Bitmoji Stories, which included personalized stories of you and your friends in November 2018. Snap said it found that the stories were a hit, with more than 130 million users watching them since their debut, that they decided TV was the next big thing.

It remains to be seen whether people will want to see themselves cast in "every show, movie, and commercial," as Snap describes it in their advertising. But a University of Texas at Austin study indicates this is likely. The study found that human beings crave personalization and were more likely to interact with content customized for them rather than a standard experience.

After all, the short-form video featuring one's self is having its moment, with China-owned TikTok app users moving into houses in Los Angeles to specifically create content. Meanwhile, users have also taken to Facebook and Instagram to post their own stories. But Snap is betting that personalized short-form video content that you can't find anywhere else will drive users to Bitmoji TV.

Screenshot courtesy of Tami Abdollah

Each season will be made up of 10 episodes averaging roughly four minutes in length, that air weekly on Saturday via the app's "Discover" page. Snap selects you and the friends you've most recently interacted with on Snapchat and features them in television episodes. Snap has also arranged to have Randy Jackson guest star in a reality show-themed episode. Other comics will be heard in the first season, including Andy Richter, Jon Lovitz, and Riki Lindhome.

Bitmoji TV was created entirely in-house by the same Toronto-based team that's behind Bitmoji and its stories. Characters in Bitmoji TV talk, but a Snap spokesperson notes that you won't see yourself talking because the engineers haven't yet figured out how to capture the user's voice.

A spokesperson said the self-described camera company wants to be a leader in mobile storytelling, and envisions having a person's Bitmoji represent themselves digitally across more experiences in the future.

Snap's stock price has rebounded in the last 12 months, from a 52-week low of $6.31 to a high of $19.76.

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Do you have a story that needs to be told? My DMs are open on Twitter @latams. You can also email me, or ask for my Signal.

tami@dot.la

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March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups
March Capital founder Jamie Montgomery. Illustration by Dilara Mundy.

Santa Monica-based venture outfit March Capital announced Feb. 3 that it raised its largest fund to date, a $650 million investment vehicle that will be used to back up to 15 startups focused on delivering new uses of artificial intelligence.

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The Three Best Ways to Work With Your Startup Board

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

The Three Best Ways to Work With Your Startup Board

When launching and running a startup, your board of directors is one of your most valuable assets. If you already understand why you need a board and how to structure your board, it may be tempting to think you can cross that item off the list. But building a board is just the beginning. Now you’ve got to get down to business—together.

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This Week in ‘Raises’: Saviynt Lands $205M, Pagos Secures $34M

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in ‘Raises’: Saviynt Lands $205M, Pagos Secures $34M
This Week in ‘Raises’:

While it was a slow week of funding in Los Angeles, security vendor Saviynt managed to score $205 million that will be used to meet the company’s growing demand for its converged identity platform and accelerate innovation.

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