Spencer Dinwiddie’s Web3 Social Media App Just Raised $26M

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.

Calaxy
Image courtesy of Calaxy

Calaxy, a Web3 social media app co-founded by NBA player Spencer Dinwiddie, has raised $26 million in new funding, the company announced Tuesday.

The HBAR Foundation and blockchain gaming company Animoca Brands co-led the raise, with participation from Ethereum scaling platform Polygon. The fresh funding brings Calaxy’s total raised to just shy of $34 million following a $7.5 million seed round last year.


Los Angeles-based Calaxy lets creators sell their own crypto tokens to fans, who can redeem the tokens for exclusive content, video messages and other forms of access to those creators. The company has essentially attached Web3 technology to validated creator economy models like Patreon, Cameo and OnlyFans, Calaxy co-founder and CEO Solo Ceesay told dot.LA, with the idea of getting people to use crypto in a way that’s familiar.

New Calaxy CEO Solo Ceesay.

Photo courtesy of Solo Ceesay

“It's meant to be quite intuitive,” Ceesay said. “It's meant to be something that doesn't feel like you're opening a brokerage account and investing in a creators’ cryptocurrency.”

For example, the creator tokens on Calaxy are initially priced one-to-one with U.S. currency—so buying 20 of Dinwiddie’s coins on the platform would cost a user $20. Eventually, the company will allow creators to opt into dynamic pricing, “but we want to make sure that journey is walked when the creator's fan base is ready,” Ceesay noted. Calaxy operates on Hedera Hashgraph, a distributed ledger technology that is an alternative to blockchain.

Dallas Mavericks guard Dinwiddie has established himself as one of the NBA’s earliest adopters of cryptocurrency—having notably converted a $34 million contract extension with the Brooklyn Nets in 2018 into a digital investment vehicle.

After initially serving as Calaxy’s CEO, Dinwiddie has now moved into an executive chair role at the startup; Ceesay, a former investment banker who became Calaxy’s chief operating officer in 2020, is succeeding Dinwiddie as CEO.

The 15-person company’s app is expected to emerge from beta testing this summer. Calaxy says it has lined up around 200 creators, celebrities and influencers for its platform, including Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot, Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard and singer Teyana Taylor.

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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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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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Inflation Reduction Act Officially Passes the Senate, Revamping Electric Vehicle Pricing

David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

The Capitol at Sunset
Courtesy of Mike Stoll via Unsplash

Over the weekend Senate Democrats officially passed the Inflation Reduction Act in what amounts to President Biden’s biggest legislative win so far. The bill includes a host of broad-spectrum economic policy changes and completely reworks the subsidies for electric vehicle purchases. The law still has to get through the House, but this should be a much smaller hurdle.

dot.LA covered the bill in depth as it neared the goal line at the end of July, and the final iteration doesn’t change much. To recap:

1. The rebate total stays $7,500 but is broken into two $3,750 chunks tied to how much of the car and its battery are made in the US.

2. The manufacturer caps are eliminated, meaning even EV companies that have sold more than 20,000 vehicles are once again eligible.

3. Rebates will now only apply to cars priced below $55,000 and trucks/SUVs below $80,000

With the new system placing a renewed emphasis on American manufacturing and assembly, the calculus of which vehicles cost how much is still being worked out. The most comprehensive (but unofficial!) list I’ve seen has come from Reddit user u/Mad691.

In addition to the EV rebate program, the bill also includes a number of economic incentives aimed at curbing emissions and accelerating the country’s transition to electric vehicles.

There’s $20 billion earmarked for the construction of new clean vehicle manufacturing facilities and $3 billion will go help electrify the USPS delivery fleet. Another $3 billion will go to electrifying the nation’s ports. Then there’s $1 billion for zero-emission trucks and buses.

Now that the bill is about to be codified into law, VC investment in the sector might heat up in response to the new money flowing in.

“I do anticipate more climate funds standing up to invest in EV infrastructure,” says Taj Ahmad Eldridge, a partner at Include Ventures and the director at CREST an ARES Foundation initiative with JFF/WRI that aims to provide training for people in the new green economy. “However, we do see funds being a little more thoughtful on diligence and taking their time to fund the right investment.”

The sentiment seems to be shared across Southern California. ChargeNet CEO and Co-Founder Tosh Dutt says the Inflation Reduction Act “super charges” the company’s effort to build infrastructure across the country.

“This investment accelerates the transition to renewable energy and gives companies like ChargeNet Stations the confidence to expand more rapidly, especially in underserved communities,” says Dutt.

For Rivian, the bill’s passage has left would-be customers in a sort of limbo. Because many of their models will exceed the $80,000 cap for trucks and SUVs after options, customers who’ve preordered are scrambling to sign buyers’ agreements to take advantage of the current EV rebate scheme which doesn’t include price caps. As I noted in the previous article, if you buy an EV before the bill is signed, you’re eligible for the current rebate system even if the vehicle isn’t delivered until 2023. Any existing contracts under the current system will remain valid.

With the legislation seemingly on the fast track to become law, it’s unclear whether or not Rivian will expedite the purchasing process to allow customers to sign the buyers’ agreement before the new rebate program becomes the law of the land. Tick tock!

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