🔦 Spotlight

Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in a groundbreaking deal that marks the first time in over 75 years a major Hollywood studio will own a movie theater chain. This acquisition signals a potential shift towards vertical integration in the film industry, with Sony gaining more control over the distribution and exhibition of its films.

The deal allows Sony to expand its presence in experiential entertainment, aligning with its vision of engaging audiences outside the home through unique offerings. Alamo Drafthouse's innovative dine-in movie experience, devoted fanbase, and curated programming like Fantastic Fest make it an appealing acquisition target. Sony stressed that Alamo will continue operating its 35 locations under CEO Michael Kustermann, who will head the new Sony Pictures Experiences division.

While the move provides financial backing for Alamo after its bankruptcy struggles, questions remain about whether the chain can maintain its independent spirit and personality under Sony's ownership. Alamo is renowned for creative programming like themed events, interactive screenings, and a strict no-talking policy that has cultivated a passionate community of moviegoers. Balancing this distinct identity with Sony's corporate interests will be a key challenge moving forward.

From a technological standpoint, this move opens up possibilities for Sony to enhance the moviegoing experience at Alamo Drafthouse locations through integration of advanced audiovisual systems, immersive technologies, and projection/sound solutions. In addition, Sony could create a more seamless and connected experience for moviegoers, such as through integrated ticketing platforms, mobile apps, and personalization driven by data analytics. While specific technological plans are not detailed, the combination of Sony's resources and Alamo Drafthouse's innovative approach could foster synergies and drive the development of new technologies to differentiate the theatrical experience further.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • Apex, a satellite bus maker, raised a $95M funding round co-led by XYZ VC and CRV joined by Upfront Ventures, 8VC, Toyota Ventures, Point72 Ventures and others. - learn more
  • Regard, a developer of AI tools to help medical providers synthesize patient data, raised a $30M Series B led by Oak HC/FT at a $350M valuation. - learn more
  • Daisy, a small business tech installation startup, raised an $11M Series A co-led by Goldcrest and Bungalow. - learn more
  • Pyte, a startup that allows companies in highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare to perform computations on encrypted data without ever decrypting it, raised a $5M Funding Round led by Myriad Venture Partners. - learn more

LA Venture Funds

LA Exits

Last week’s Milken Institute Global Conference, held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, focused on “Shaping a Shared Future,” addressing major issues and the role of technology in solving challenges such as climate change. A significant theme throughout the event was the impact of artificial intelligence (AI), particularly its potential to transform industries by automating tasks that do not add real value, thus allowing individuals to focus on higher-level activities. Panels and discussions highlighted how AI is already being utilized in various sectors, including asset management, customer service, and medicine development, with contributions from notable figures such as executives from OpenAI and Elon Musk.

The conference, attracting thousands of professionals, was the largest since returning to in-person events post-pandemic. High-profile attendees included Elon Musk, who spoke to a packed auditorium and attended exclusive gatherings with investment heavyweights like Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, CEO of Eldridge Industries Todd Boehly, and former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Events hosted by celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Leonard Green founder Jonathan Sokoloff, featuring David Beckham, highlighted the conference's prestige. Delegates sought partnerships and funding, predicting a dealmaking resurgence in 2024 and 2025. The event also saw increased participation from Middle Eastern investors and cautious discussions about opportunities in China, underscoring its global significance and dynamic networking environment.

Despite its reputation for Hollywood glamor and an unmatched sound bath per capita ratio, Los Angeles ranks 5th for tech community in Cloudwards' list of top tech cities in the US, highlighting a vibrant tech scene that should not be underestimated. This ranking reflects the number of tech events and conferences the city hosts, including the annual Milken Institute Global Conference discussed above. Looking ahead, here are some other significant LA tech events to anticipate in the next couple of weeks.

🗓️ Upcoming LA Tech Events

Monday, May 20, 2024

Nucleate Los Angeles: Demo Day 2024 - Join Nucleate for their annual showcase of their 2024 Activator Cohort for all biotech enthusiasts from the student to industry levels. Seven teams spanning across the greater LA area will present their startup decks to a live audience, including a panel of VC judges. Food will be provided to attendants and an open networking session will follow the presentations.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

BUILDFest LA 2024 - Check out #BUILDFest LA 2024 on Tuesday, May 21, at Loyola Marymount to support the next generation of innovative and resilient youth through entrepreneurship! Three local high school finalist teams will present their business solutions to judges and BUILD community members, competing for cash prizes and bragging rights. The event features a fantastic panel of community and business leaders, including Principal Amen Rahh, AnnMaria De Mars, Mark Genovese, Tony Safoian, and Shannon Willet. Join and celebrate a quarter century of impact and witness the brilliance of today's student entrepreneurs as they shape the future.

First Look SoCal Innovation Showcase 2024 - The First Look SoCal Innovation Showcase is an annual celebration of the best early-stage teams commercializing deep tech and life science breakthroughs from the top research institutions in Southern California. This is the premiere gathering that celebrates research-based spinouts and connects them with top-tier investors and successful serial entrepreneurs with expertise to help them leap from the lab to market. This event will feature a pair of keynote presentations followed by a full program of 24 quick-pitch presentations with investor-led Q&A. Stay for the networking reception to (re)connect with the community!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

AWS Summit - Hosted by Amazon, AWS Summit Los Angeles 2024 will be an action-packed day where the latest in cloud innovation comes to life. Explore how cutting-edge technologies, from generative AI to analytics, are revolutionizing industries and empowering businesses to lead in the digital era.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Browsertech LA - Hosted by Upfront Partner Kevin Zhang, and Jamsocket co-founder Paul Butler, join them in Santa Monica, for an evening dedicated to exploring modern browser technology with plenty of chances to network and connect with industry peers. There will be lightning talks that will delve into topics like WebAssembly, WebRTC, WebGL, WebGPU, WebSockets, WebCodecs, WebTransport, and everything in between, followed by a sunset happy hour.

Thursday, June 6, 2024 - Sunday, June 9, 2024

Cine Gear Expo LA - Cine Gear Expo, debuting in 1996, has become the premier event for the technology, entertainment, and media sectors, annually attracting over 16,000 professionals from 60+ countries to Hollywood, California. Known for its unique approach, the expo offers a platform for exploring content capture hardware, workflow software, support equipment, and cutting-edge production services. Attendees benefit from hands-on training, insights from global technology leaders, and networking opportunities in a professional studio setting. The four-day event includes exhibits, seminars, a film festival, new product announcements, technical awards, and special screenings. The 2023 edition drew over 12,600 attendees, 260 exhibitors, and 20+ seminars, with expectations for further growth in 2024, solidifying its role as an industry cornerstone.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 - Thursday, June 20, 2024

Augmented World Expo (AWE) - AWE is the world's largest spatial computing event and is the place to be for all things augmented reality, virtual reality, and XR community. This year, AWE is located in Long Beach and is celebrating its 15th anniversary. At this event you can try the latest spatial computing tech from 350+ exhibitors, learn from hundreds of spatial computing product leaders, and network with more than 6,500 spatial peers.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.