With an ambitious goal to building the Youtube of audio, Los Angeles-based Vurbl announced Monday it has closed its $1.3 million pre-seed round with lead investor AlphaEdison with participation from Halogen Ventures and Ten13. The funds will be used to launch a platform later this year with millions of pieces of audio and podcasts.

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Halogen Ventures, the Los Angeles early-stage firm that focuses on female-led consumer tech startups, announced it is launching a fellowship to focus on gender dynamics and address the lack of equity and diversity in the overwhelmingly white, male world of venture capital.

Ten fellows have been selected from across the country for the virtual fellowships, from schools that include UCLA, Harvard and Notre Dame. The program includes introductory coursework on all aspects of venture capital, including guest lectures from top employees at Silicon Valley Bank and Amazon Web Services.

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In these pandemic times, people are more isolated than they've been in our lifetimes and more dependent on technology for everything from work to entertainment to food. So you'd think that L.A. company Shipsi Inc., which is dedicated to connecting businesses across 700 cities to its last-mile delivery networks of one million drivers, would be experiencing a boom.

Spoiler alert: It's not.

In fact, the roughly 40-person company founded in 2017 has laid off half its staff as a "cautionary measure" after non-essential company closures, with Shipsi's remaining 20 or so employees now taking everything from partial to full furloughs to limit the bleeding. The company has also refined its technology to help make operations more automated and cut back on customers that require significant support or resources.

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