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While some skeptics argue that crypto is a trend, venture investors like Chapter One are betting that it’s here to stay.
After raising a $40 million fund in December to back early-stage Web3 startups, the Los Angeles-based venture capital firm has launched a crypto-focused incubator called Chapter One Studios, TechCrunch reported Wednesday. The six-month program starts in April and will provide three startups with a $1 million investment and the option to work out of Chapter One’s L.A. office; in exchange, the venture firm will take a 15% stake in each of the companies.
Founded in 2017 by former Tinder product chief Jeff Morris Jr., Chapter One has invested over 50 companies in its investment portfolio, including crypto payment platform Moonpay and crypto exchange FTX.
Morris told TechCrunch that one goal of the program is to give crypto startup founders the resources to reach product-market fit, without having to worry about the stresses of fundraising.
“While there are a lot of funds that participate in things like governance or liquidity or market-making, there wasn’t a fund that was entirely focused on usability and making crypto more accessible,” Morris said.
Representatives for Chapter One did not return a request for comment.
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TikTok is launching an incubator program, "TikTok for Black Creatives," to support 100 Black creators and music artists as it competes for audience among social media sites.
"Black creators on TikTok have been a driving force for our community, from starting trends to fostering connection to introducing new ways to entertain and inspire others, and we're committed to continuing to elevate and amplify their voices," the company said in an announcing the incubator this week.
TikTok made a splash last year when it announced that it will give out nearly $2 billion to creators over the coming years and it's gained some serious competition. Los Angeles-based competitor Snap has paid out millions of dollars to creators as the race for user-generated content heats up, The New York Times reported. And YouTube launched a Black influencer program in October called the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund.
Over three months, program participants will take part in motivational town halls with successful Black entrepreneurs and celebrities, along with community-building forums and educational events with TikTok executives.
For the incubator, the company has partnered with MACRO, a multiplatform media company founded by CEO Charles D. King and known for representing people of color, on a grant for a select group of creators and music artists to be used for educational resources, production equipment and other tools to create content.
"We are thrilled to partner with TikTok to identify, uplift and support Black creators," said Stacey Walker King, chief brand officer for MACRO. "The Black creator community on TikTok is at the forefront of driving culture and sparking trends, and MACRO is proud to help amplify and showcase their immense talent."
TikTok is accepting applications through Jan. 27. Applicants can submit a video up to 60 seconds long showcasing their skills. Finalists will be named in February.
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LA Tech Updates: Apple Podcast Vet Joins QCODE, Amazon Reportedly in Talks to Buy Wondery, Pharrell's New Black Ambition Incubator
- Apple Podcast Veteran Steve Wilson Joins Startup QCODE
- Amazon in Exclusive Talks to Buy Podcast Studio Wondery, Wall Street Journal Reports
- Pharrell Launches Black Ambition Incubator
Apple Podcast Veteran Joins Startup QCODEwww.sonos.com
QCODE, a Los Angeles podcast startup run by a former Creative Artists Agency talent agent, snagged longtime Apple podcast executive Steve Wilson. The 15-year veteran will become QCODE's chief strategy officer.
QCODE, which last month raised $6.4 million in a Series A round led by Sono, is positioning itself as a funnel for Hollywood.
Founded by Rob Herting, a former agent who had represented largely writers and filmmakers, the company has produced eight shows since 2019. Several have been auctioned for film and television, including "Dirty Diana." Amazon picked up the 6-part erotic drama for a TV series.Wilson, who most recently ran marketing for Apple Podcasts, brings insights from the behemoth platform as the industry sees revenues soar. Advertising brought in near $1 billion this year, according to Interactive Advertising Bureau's podcast report prepared by PwC.
Amazon Reportedly in Exclusive Talks to Buy WonderyHernan Lopez started Wondery with the belief that in-depth, narrative audio stories were poised to bloom.
Amazon is in "exclusive talks" to buy podcast company Wondery and subsume its 30 hit shows and over 8 million monthly listeners into its empire, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The talks reportedly value Wondery above $300 million, in line with previous estimates from analysts, when Apple and Sony were said to have expressed interest.
Wondery has produced dozens of original series including "Dr. Death" and "Business Wars," and has 19 shows currently in development to become television series.
The company does not publicly disclose its financials, but chief executive Hernan Lopez has previously said the company is profitable. About three-quarters of Wondery's revenue comes from advertising, but Lopez has said the company's revenue share from content licensing is growing (Wondery owns the intellectual property for all of its originals). It also launched a subscription service, Wondery Plus, in June and is currently looking to expand its international footprint.
Wondery, the West Hollywood-based company with the largest audience of any independent podcast producer, has been the subject of swirling rumors that several suitors are interested in acquiring it.
After a pandemic-induced decline that struck much of the podcasting industry, Wondery's audience has surpassed its pre-COVID levels. Its Q3 revenue was about double year-on-year and its Q4 performance has been strong, Lopez previously told dot.LA.
Podcasting overall now attracts over 100 million monthly listeners, according to Edison Research. The Interactive Advertising Bureau projects podcasting revenues to exceed $1 billion by 2021.
That growth has spurred somewhat of an arms race, most evident in Spotify's spending spree, which also has helped that company diversify from its reliance on streaming. Amazon Music is one of Spotify's biggest competitors along with Apple Music, and recently expanded into podcasts as well.
Acquiring Wondery would give Amazon more content to slide into Amazon Music, a scaled-down version of which is free for Amazon Prime subscribers. Combining that content with its Alexa smart speaker also could empower the company to capture more eyes and ears in the increasingly competitive attention economy.
The talks are reportedly ongoing and no deal has been confirmed.
Rapper and producer Pharrell Williams released "Entrepreneur" with Jay-Z earlier this summer, a song that became an anthem for Black ambition. Now, Williams is launching an incubator to put money behind his message.
Called Black Ambition, the nonprofit aims to invest in Black and Latino startup founders, and it's beginning by creating two prize competitions set to close in July 2021. The effort backed by Adidas, Chanel and philanthropic organizations including The Rockefeller Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation. Silicon Valley startup investor Ron Conway and Buzzfeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti also contributed.
The first competition will award up to $250,000 to current students or recent alumni from a historically Black college developing or in the seed stage of a company. Smaller prizes will be awarded to at least nine additional teams.
The second competition, called the Black Ambition Prize, will give $1 million in seed money to an early-stage company focused on tech, design, healthcare or consumer products and services. Another nine teams will get smaller prizes. Finalists will be connected with and mentored by a network venture capitalists and angel investors.
"Because we don't have enough of the market share, our kids end up having issues with disproportionate access to healthcare, disproportionate access to education and as a culture, we have disproportionate access as it pertains to legislation and representation," Williams said in a video announcing the news.
Williams was inspired to pool talent from historically Black colleges and universities and build a new pipeline of investment and resources to young people.
"We want to lift our HBCUs. They lift so many of us. They deserve to be in lights," Williams said. "We think it's high time that we own more companies.
In August, Williams published a piece in Time Magazine that accompanied a cover spread on "The New American Revolution." It coincided with his release of "Entrepreneur," the song and music video he produced with Jay-Z as a tribute to Black founders across the nation.
"Recent events and tragedies have illustrated the always existent stark divisions in the American experience, and while entrepreneurship has long been a tenet of the American dream, marginalized people have faced long-standing barriers to success," Williams said in a statement.
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