Meet the New Products From Snap's Inaugural Yellow Collabs Program

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Meet the New Products From Snap's Inaugural Yellow Collabs Program

Clay Weishaar and his sneaker-freaker colleagues designed Dropr, an AR app to recreate the experience of camping out overnight to score a pair of limited-edition kicks. Working with developers and engineers from Snap, they then gamified the experience and added a social component to help make it go viral.

Dropr debuted today alongside eight other companies' new products, all of them developed in conjunction with Snap as part of the company's inaugural Yellow Collabs program.

Snap has previously run three Yellow Accelerator programs, geared toward early-stage companies. In October, it launched Yellow Community, a year-round virtual and in-person (eventually) events circuit for L.A. entrepreneurs. Collabs augments these efforts to connect Snap with external minds and ideas.

The new program focuses on more established companies and helps Snap keep its finger on the pulse of innovation outside the company's walls. It also helps Snap distinguish itself from other social media companies – not only by creating new features for users, but by spreading recognition of Snap's development tools among external developers and designers who can use them for their own projects and companies.


Collabs began on September 21, with a cohort of companies creating games, experiences and other features that integrate with Snap. These integrations can live inside or outside the Snapchat app, and sometimes both, as when a user is ushered between two apps. Some integrations rely on Snap's developer tools, many of which were first announced at Snap's 2020 Partner Summit this summer.

The program focused on supporting companies using the following Snap integrations:

-Snap Minis: small apps that live within Snapchat, with no extra installation required

-Dynamic Lenses: augmented reality (AR) overlays – which Snap calls lenses – that respond to dynamically generated inputs, such as a user's location

-Scan: Computer vision technology that can match what a camera sees with relevant lenses

-SnapML: Lenses designed with machine learning neural networks

-Snap Kit: A wide suite of additional developer tools

The nine companies in the 13-week remote Collabs program worked with Snap employees and executives on product development, design and strategy. Five of the nine companies in this first cohort are based in Los Angeles.

Snap did not provide official applicant numbers, but said the "overwhelmingly positive" response has validated its approach of finding "companies with big ideas for how to leverage the Snap platform to create incredible experiences with the help of some of ours."

Introducing the Nine Projects from Snap's First Yellow Collabs Program

Almost Fun

A nonprofit that provides culturally-relevant, interactive educational resources for BIPOC and low-income students

Snap Integration: A Snap Mini designed to support users' learning, either individually or in groups with friends in their Snapchat network

Fake Artists

A Venice-based creative studio focused on using AR, ML and other tech to help brands engage fans through virtual experiences

Snap Integration: Integrates Snap's dynamic lens into its app, Dropr, which is meant to digitize fashion product-drops through AR try-ons and gamify the experience through challenges that unlock new items

"They were able to coach me on how people engage with Snapchat and the camera to create a better product," said Fake Artists co-founder Clay Weishaar, who is also one of Snap's official Lens Creators. "Originally it was just a virtual try-on...but Collabs helped us come up with gamified try-ons and using unlock mechanisms to reward people, which all comes together in this sharing loop that can reach millions of people."

The next step for Weishaar is to move from a dynamic lens Snap-integration that takes users back and forth between Dropr and Snapchat, and instead use Snap's Camera Kit to fully embed the experience into Dropr.

Givingli

Givingli

An L.A.-based gift-giving company for digital greeting cards and e-gifts

Snap Integration: A Snap Mini that helps Snapchat users share expressive greetings, celebrate special occasions and connect through giving

NewNew

NewNew

An L.A.-based social polling app, which helps groups of friends make everyday decisions

Snap Integration: Using Story Kit, one of the developer toolkits within Snap Kit, users on Snapchat and NewNew can create decision-making polls to turn their Snapchat messages into interactive content

"There was a real genuine interest in what we were building," NewNew co-founder Courtne Smith said. "They had a lot of questions and they were really interested to know how we were thinking about our products. I think they could see an immediate synergy between us and them."

"Collabs gave me insight into the inner workings of Snap and how they make decisions and what their values are," she continued. "They were really eager to teach us as much as possible...It's not every day that you get to pick the brains of people who work at these companies and do so so openly and freely."

QReal

QReal

Helps companies market and sell products through 3D and AR content with a focus on food, furniture and fashion

Snap Integration: Uses Snap's dynamic lens to import running workout data from a user's phone into a Snapchat lens, meant to help exercise apps and brands create marketing campaigns

SketchAR

SketchAR

An AI-based mobile app that helps users develop their creativity through tools like AR-assisted drawing and photo-editing

Snap Integration: A new tool that allows SketchAR users create and share their own AR lenses.

Snack Break

Snack Break

An L.A-based app-building company that focuses on "bitesize" communication to create shared experiences

Snap Integration: Arteest, Snack Break's newest app, uses Snap's dynamic lens to allow users to make drawings based on a friend's suggestions, then share their creations on Snapchat.

Stacks

Stacks

A social video studio that helps users to discover, remix and share video and gif memes

Snap Integration: A Snap Mini that enables users to share, edit and react to video and gif memes

Tastemade

Tastemade

An L.A.-based media company focused on food, travel, and home & design content; it reaches 300 million monthly viewers and has been working with Discover, Snap's curated content platform, since its launch in 2015

Snap Integration: A Snap Mini, "Tastemade Me Do It", that offers weekly recipe and DIY challenges, along with polls and stickers that users can share with friends

"We really see this as a huge opportunity to grow our audience and build an even bigger business through Snapchat," said Tastemade general manager of social, Lauren Arso.

"We love the work we do on Discover, and with the Mini platform, we were excited that we could have a little more control over the experience," she continued. "We're also working with the Snap team to create new ways to connect the Discover platform with the Mini platform."

Snap's Yellow ecosystem is now comprised of three programs – Collabs, Accelerator, and Community – but the company's developer and integration tools are not limited to program participants; most are available via a quick application process.

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Sam Blake primarily covers media and entertainment for dot.LA. Find him on Twitter @hisamblake and email him at samblake@dot.LA

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🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

LA Venture Funds


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😊🚘 Rivian's $5 Billion Lifeline

🔦 Spotlight

Volkswagen announced on Tuesday a significant investment of up to $5 billion in Rivian, a struggling electric truck manufacturer known for its vehicles' distinctive smiley-face design reminiscent of Volkswagen's iconic Beetle. This partnership marks a unique collaboration between the world's second-largest automaker and a startup grappling with profitability challenges akin to those faced by Tesla. Volkswagen's infusion of $1 billion initially, potentially rising to $5 billion pending regulatory approval, underscores its strategic pivot towards enhancing its electric vehicle (EV) software capabilities, an area where analysts believe the company has lagged.

For Rivian, which has received acclaim for its electric trucks and SUVs but struggles with production ramp-up and financial losses, the investment offers crucial financial backing. The company plans to utilize Volkswagen's expertise in manufacturing, leveraging the German automaker's annual production of nearly 10 million vehicles. This alliance aims to bolster Rivian's efforts to launch new models like the R2 midsize SUV and complete its Georgia factory, paused earlier this year to conserve funds. Rivian's stock surged upwards of 40% following the announcement, reflecting investor optimism in the company's future prospects.

Despite their differing corporate cultures—Volkswagen's traditional, structured approach contrasted with Rivian's agile tech startup ethos—the CEOs of both companies expressed mutual admiration and shared goals during the partnership announcement. The collaboration is expected to yield EV software solutions benefiting Volkswagen's various brands, potentially including Audi and Porsche, while allowing Rivian to maintain its brand identity and separate vehicle marketing strategies. This strategic partnership between Volkswagen and Rivian not only promises to revolutionize the electric vehicle market but also highlights the potential for collaboration between established automakers and innovative startups in Southern California, where Rivian is based. Here’s to hoping these smiling cars will balance out some of the inevitable LA road rage.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • HeyGen, a startup that allows users to generate videos with AI-created avatars that can lip-sync to provided audio, making it easier for businesses to create engaging video content, raised a $60M Funding Round at a $500M post-money valuation. The deal was led by Benchmark, with Conviction, Thrive Capital, and Bond Capital also stepping up. - learn more
  • Pomerium, a startup that provides a secure access platform that dynamically verifies user identities to ensure authorized access to applications and services, raised a $13.8M Series A round led by Benchmark and including previous investors Bain Capital, Haystack, and SNR. - learn more
  • Etched, a maker of transformer-specialized AI chips, raised a $120M Funding Round. - learn more
  • Rocketlane, a customer onboarding platform, raised a $24M Series B co-led by 8VC, Matrix Partners India, and Nexus Venture Partners. - learn more
  • Sift, a developer of unified observability solutions for hardware sensor data, raised a $17.5M Series A led by GV. - learn more
  • LOST iN, a travel media brand, raised a $4M Seed Round led by MaC Venture Capital. - learn more

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