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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    Snap shares soared after CEO Evan Spiegel touted the company's highest Q3 growth rate since 2017. The outspoken executive used Tuesday's earnings call to highlight the social media platform's efforts to engage users "following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor."

    The upbeat earnings report sent its stock soaring 20% in after-hours trading.

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    VENN leveled up in its quest to become the 24/7 streaming network for gaming on Tuesday, announcing it has closed a $26 million Series A financing round. The Playa Vista-based company has also turbocharged its leadership and distribution network.

    The Videogame Entertainment and News Network launched in August with $17 million in seed funding. That round was led by Bay Area gaming fund BITKRAFT, which also co-led the Series A — this time with Nexstar Media Group, a NASDAQ-listed telecoms company headquartered in Irving, Texas.

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    • L.A.-based Genies is expanding beyond creating and managing avatars for celebrities; consumers can now create their own avatars on partner platforms that use Genies' software development kit.
    • Initial partners are Gucci and Giphy, with more expected in the coming months.
    • Genies' pivot is an effort to capitalize on the 'digital goods economy' and the ascendance of the metaverse.

    Justin Bieber made Crocs cool again earlier this month, when he partnered with the footwear company, known more for function than fashion, to release a limited edition pair that reportedly sold out in 90 minutes.

    Imagine now that those shoes were meant to be worn not on human feet, but on the pixels of a consumer's digital avatar.

    This is the vision of L.A.-based Genies, which announced Tuesday it is now integrating its avatar-creation technology into other companies' digital platforms via an updated software development kit (SDK).

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