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Beverly Hills-based Regeneration.VC said it aims to invest in “circular economy” consumer startups developing regenerative materials—an area it described as a “$4.5 trillion opportunity to ensure the prosperity of our species and planet” in a press release.
The circular economy involves reusing materials at the end of their life cycle to produce new goods, ideally eliminating waste and harmful emissions in the process. The fund’s portfolio companies include VitroLabs, which makes lab-grown leather, and Pangaia, a fashion brand that repurposes discarded textiles.
Regeneration.VC is co-led by general partners Dan Fishman, the former president of Los Angeles ice cream brand Coolhaus, and Michael Smith, a former touring DJ and co-founder of the L.A. real estate firm Creative Space. Alongside DiCaprio and Tribe Capital, the firm’s limited partners include Maryland-based investor ImpactAssets, Twist Bioscience co-founder Bill Peck and Depeche Mode guitarist Martin Gore.
“We need forward-thinking approaches that perform measurably better for our planet,” DiCaprio, who will also serve as a strategic advisor to the fund, said in a statement. “It’s time for people to feel good about their purchases and for businesses to meet that challenge—every bite of food, every t-shirt, every product counts.”
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The family of a former Activision Blizzard employee who died by suicide in 2017 is suing the video game publisher, alleging that the company failed to prevent workplace sexual harassment that contributed to her death.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Paul and Janet Moynihan, the parents of Kerri Moynihan. The former Activision finance manager was 32 years old when she was found dead in a Disneyland hotel room during a company retreat in April 2017.
According to the Washington Post, which first reported the news of the lawsuit on Friday, the Moynihans are claiming that the sexual harassment their daughter experienced while working at Activision was a “significant factor” in her death.
“We at Activision Blizzard were, and continue to be, deeply saddened by the tragic death of Ms. Moynihan, who was a valued member of the company,” an Activision spokesperson told dot.LA in a statement. “We will address the complaint through the legal process as appropriate, and out of respect for the family we have no further comment at this time.”
Jeff Isaacs and Adam Kargman of Downtown L.A.-based law firm Isaacs Friedberg are representing the Moynihan family in the wrongful death suit. The attorneys declined to comment.
Kerri Moynihan’s experiences with sexual harassment were referenced in an ongoing lawsuit filed against Activision by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing last July, though she wasn’t mentioned by name. The state’s complaint alleged that at an Activision holiday party in December 2016, male co-workers had passed around a picture of Moynihan’s vagina. State investigators have recently widened their investigation into workplace misconduct at Activision, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.
According to the Washington Post, the Moynihan family’s lawsuit also alleges that Kerri Moynihan’s boss, former Activision senior finance director Greg Restituito, lied to police detectives investigating Moynihan’s death by concealing his sexual relationship with Moynihan. Restituito currently serves as vice president of finance at L.A.-based fintech startup Aspiration, according to his LinkedIn page, and did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Moynihan lawsuit is the latest in a growing stack of litigation against Activision, which is in the midst of being acquired by Microsoft for $69 billion. Last fall, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick faced calls for resignation from employees and shareholders after the Wall Street Journal reported that Kotick knew of alleged sexual assaults at the company but failed to inform Activision’s board.
The “Call of Duty” developer is also facing a Securities and Exchange Commision investigation into alleged workplace sexual misconduct, as well as lawsuits from shareholders seeking to block the Microsoft merger. Earlier this week, the Communications Workers of America labor union—which is seeking to unionize Activision employees—and 14 other groups sent the Federal Trade Commission a letter asking it to investigate the Microsoft deal for “anticompetitive effects'' on the gaming market.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at (800) 273-8255 or by texting HELLO to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
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L.A. fintech firm Aspiration, which offers an eco-friendly digital spin on consumer banking, has purchased Carbon Insights, a Denver-based startup that uses APIs to help financial institutions track carbon footprints.
The acquisition is Marina del Rey-based Aspiration’s first-ever since it launched in 2015. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. As part of the acquisition, Carbon Insights co-founders Chad Hunter and Ally Kadel have joined Aspiration.
Aspiration will deploy Carbon Insights’ technology to enhance its scoring system for tracking the sustainability impact of its customers’ spending habits, Aspiration co-founder and CEO Andrei Cherny told dot.LA. Carbon Insights relies on a combination of business attributes and operational data—like energy consumption and corporate expenditures—to estimate a company’s carbon footprint, Cherny explained.
Aspiration co-founder and CEO Andrei Cherny
The technology will allow Aspiration to better provide “a sustainability score for our customers based on where they are shopping and spending,” Cherny explained.
Aspiration is currently in the process of becoming a publicly traded company and is eying an initial public offering by the end of March. The neo-bank is expected to be valued at $2.3 billion after it merges with InterPrivate III Financial Partners Inc., a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.
SPAC mergers have become an increasingly common way for companies to go public. Local companies to recently pursue the route include West Hollywood-based neo-bank Dave, Culver City-based clinical research firm Science 37, and Santa Monica-based fitness brand The Beachbody Company.
The Carbon Insights purchase could be the first in a string of possible mergers and acquisitions that offer “sustainable solutions” for Aspiration, according to Cherny. He declined to identify potential targets.
“I wouldn’t speculate on the timing, in terms of whether it will be before or after we go public,” Cherny said. “But there certainly is more M&A down the road for us.”
Last month, the fintech startup received $315 million in financing from Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and Downtown-based private equity giant Oaktree Capital Management in advance of the SPAC deal. Oaktree initially began talks to invest in Aspiration in early 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the global economy and threw talks off course, Cherny said. Aspiration also sealed a 23-year, $300 million sponsorship deal with Ballmer’s Clippers last fall.
Including the financing from Oaktree and Ballmer’s affiliates, Aspiration is poised to have more than $700 million in proceeds after it goes public.
Aspiration has sought to tackle climate change through its services, which offer its nearly 2 million customers a range of tools to prioritize sustainability through their spending and investing. Its “Plant Your Change” feature, for instance, allows consumers to round up credit or debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and directs the spare change toward planting trees.
Aspiration counts actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr., and Orlando Bloom, as well as Canadian rapper Drake, among its celebrity investors. (Disclosure: dot.LA co-founder and chairman Spencer Rascoff is an Aspiration investor.)
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