As Thanksgiving approached, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti implored residents to stay home and halt all nonessential travel as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed.

But on Thanksgiving Day, Peter Pham, one of L.A.'s most prominent early-stage investors and the co-founder of Science Inc, a Santa Monica startup studio and early-stage venture fund that manages over $100 million and recently launched a $310.5 million SPAC, posted a selfie of himself atop Las Vegas' High Roller ferris wheel.

He was clutching a can of Liquid Death, the bad boy-themed canned water brand that has improbably become Science's buzziest startup. Pham guzzles six cans a day, because he says he does not trust municipal tap water.

"I'm not afraid of dying," Pham told me recently. "There's risk for everything and COVID is a risk that I feel very confident in my ability to deal with. I could be wrong and that's OK. I am OK if I fucked up and I die from it."

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Every venture capital fund likes to insist that they are unique even though they usually all operate from the same playbook. The Fund, which quietly launched in Los Angeles earlier this year — two years after starting in New York — is actually different.

It is a venture fund for those who eschew venture funds. No professional investors are allowed, there is no full-time staff, and it charges a reduced management fee.

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Retina, a Santa Monica startup that provides e-commerce companies like Dollar Shave Club and Madison Reed predictions of consumer behavior based on algorithms, announced on Wednesday that it has raised $2.5 million in funding led by Crosscut Ventures.

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