LA Tech Updates: Jukin Media Gets a New Co-CEO; Snap Expands Developer Program

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Today:

  • Jukin Media Promotes Lee Eisner to Co-CEO
  • Snap's Accelerator Program Expands with 'Yellow Collabs'

    Lee Essner, is co-chief executive officer of Jukin Media

    Jukin Media Promotes Lee Eisner to Co-CEO

    Jukin Media, a global entertainment company focused on user-generated content, has promoted its former president and chief operating officer, Lee Essner, to co-chief executive officer, the company announced Thursday.

    Essner will split the top title with Jonathan Skogmo, Jukin Media's founder. The company also announced the promotion of two other key executives on Thursday, including Anton Reut, who served as Jukin's former executive vice president and chief product officer and fills Essner's shoes as COO; and Civonne Ahal, who served as VP for rights management who will become a senior VP in that role.

    Essner began working with Jukin in 2013 and has helped the company grow from a 20-person startup solely at its headquarters in Los Angeles to more than 200 people at offices in L.A., New York, London and New Delhi, the company said in a news release.

    As co-CEO, Essner will continue overseeing Jukin's brand, sales, corporate business development, operations, legal and finance operations. Skogmo will oversee the company's licensing business, original productions, marketing, creative, development and culture.

    The company has fared well during the pandemic but recently said it needed to take Paycheck Protection Program funds to help save some jobs.

    Snap's Accelerator Program Expands with 'Yellow Collabs'

    Snap announced its taking applications for its remote, 13-week program aimed at companies and their developers. Dubbed Yellow Collabs, the program, which runs September 21 through December 18, lets developers work closely with the Snap team to better understand how to build on its platform. The deadline is for applications is August 16.

    Participants will get weekly office hours with Snap experts, as well as access to a monthly speaker series and other networking events. At the end of the program, each company will present their developed products in a showcase event.

    Two years ago, the Santa Monica-based social media startup introduced its Yellow Accelerator developer platform with the goal of filling "a need to support startups at the intersection of creativity and technology," Snap spokesperson Liz Goodno said.

    Over the past year, the launchpad provided support to 10 companies with an $150,000 investment in exchange for equity and led them through a three-month program offering funding, mentorship, commercial partnerships, networking events and office space. The Yellow Collabs program is an extension of this effort, allowing select companies who weren't selected for the full Accelerator Program to attend the trainings, Snap said.

    "While the first touch point with our community has been the Yellow Accelerator, our mission has evolved to build an ecosystem facilitating the connectivity between three main participants: Founders, Investors & Snap," Snap spokesperson Liz Goodno said. "Yellow Collabs focuses specifically on integration with Snapchat through our portfolio of developer tools, while widening the scope of companies (i.e. stage and size) we can engage with."

    Today, more than 800 apps have integrated into Snap's platform — and almost 150 million app users engage with these integrations each month.

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    BAM Ventures, the early-stage, consumer-focused fund co-founded by corporate lawyer-turned-L.A. serial entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist Brian Lee, has filed paperwork with the SEC indicating that it is in the process of raising a third fund with $50 million in dry power.

    Lee and Shamin Rostami Walsh, BAM's managing director, declined to comment on the offering. Companies are barred by SEC regulations from "general solicitation" while they are raising capital, which includes speaking to the media.

    The $50 million fund would be a considerable step up from BAM's $20 Fund II and $6 million Fund I, which provided early backing for buzzy consumer startups such as the video game maker Scopely and the trendy luggage direct-to-consumer company, Away.

    But no investment has been more profitable than the firm's reported $150,000 pre-seed check to Honey, which turned into $45 million after the coupon startup was bought by Paypal for $4 billion last year. It is the sort of return VCs dream about and Honey's founders were turned down many times until they met Lee, who told dot.LA earlier this year that he invested after getting a "vibe" from co-founders George Ruan and Ryan Hudson at a panel where they were speaking.

    "They knew exactly what they were building, and how they were going to get there," Lee said. "It gave us a lot of confidence to back them. Every time we met with them the numbers were growing, and we knew the future was very bright for Honey very early on."

    Lee co-founded LegalZoom in 2001 and went on to team with celebrities to launch consumer brands, such as Shoedazzle with Kim Kardashian in 2009 and The Honest Company with Jessica Alba in 2011. Lee is also an investor in dot.LA.

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