On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, sit down with Daniel Leff, the founder and managing partner of Luminari Capital, as well as the co-founder and managing partner of his latest fund, Waverley Capital.
Leff has spent 22 years investing in media space. Both Waverley Capital and Luminari Capital are focused on investing in digital media disruptors and innovators.
In this conversation, Leff shared some insights on his work with Waverley co-founder Edgar Bronfman Jr., the CEO of Warner Music Group and former CEO of Universal Studios.
Leff says he and Bronfman see their fund's mission as "trying to find invest in and help build what we call category defining media companies."
Leff has devoted his career to this mission; he was the second institutional investor in Roku. Today, his portfolio includes Headspace, Wondery, FuboTV, Matterport and The Athletic.
He says media is a unique industry, especially in L.A.
"In the media industry, it's a different path to be disruptive," he says. "Business is done differently. It's almost never that a very young person can come into the market and rail against the establishment and expect to be successful."
He argues it's important for both startups and enterprise companies to not "chase the past" and to recognize that you cannot "put Disney out of business. You can't put Comcast out of business. You can't put Viacom out of business… but you can disrupt them."
In the rest of this episode, Daniel shared about how he got established in media, his connection with Roku founder Anthony Wood and his plans for moving forward.
Daniel Leff is the the founder and managing partner of Luminari Capital, and the co-founder and managing partner of Waverley Capital.
"People say content wants to be free. No it doesn't. Great content requires a lot of investment."—Daniel Leff
dot.LA Engagement Intern Colleen Tufts contributed to this post.
This week, I sat down with Jamila Souffrant, the founder and CEO of Journey to Launch.
Journey to Launch started as a blog to document Souffrant's journey to financial independence. Now, she also produces a podcast by the same name that has a regular feature in Forbes and has over 2 million downloads. Her podcast has also been featured in Money Magazine and Business Insider.
Souffrant started her career in real estate investing, commuting from New Jersey to Brooklyn for work. The inspiration for her company came to her one day when it took her three hours to get home. That's when she decided "I don't want to do this for the rest of my life."
She began to research how to become financially independent, using podcasts for inspiration and education. In all her research, she said she found common threads on how people were investing, budgeting and creating financial plans. Eventually, after cushioning her savings account and having three children, she left her corporate job.
Souffrant says starting to work as an entrepreneur allowed her the flexibility and freedom she felt she needed. She said it also changed her entire relationship with money because it opened up so many different kinds of income streams from her creative work.
She created her podcast because she wanted to help people tune-in to their relationship with finance, and because she understood her perspective was needed in that space.
In this episode you'll hear about Souffrant's upbringing, how she pivoted to entrepreneurship and her advice on avoiding common financial pitfalls.
"You can't compare your beginning to someone's middle or end, and you don't even know how long ago they started." — Jamila Souffrant
Jamila Souffrant is the founder, host and CEO of Journey to Launch.
dot.LA Engagement Intern Colleen Tufts contributed to this post.
Spotify is now matching your music taste to podcasts. The new predictive algorithm is one of a host of new products the Swedish company announced Monday.
It also unveiled a new premium service called HiFi with improved sound and a Snapchat-like feature for artists to share video clips.
The moves are part of Spotify's ongoing effort to expand beyond music and become the primary platform for all audio creators and consumers.
The company has been on an acquisition spree over the past several years, which has included podcast content studios The Ringer, Parcast and Gimlet and podcast creation services like Anchor and Megaphone.
And it's about to release more original podcasts as it expands partnerships, including "Batman Unburied," created with Warner Bros. and DC; a new project from Ava Duvernay and a program featuring Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.
"The creative economy is exploding," said chief executive officer Daniel Ek. "So far, that explosion has been largely taking shape across video, with companies of all sizes focused there, and new ones entering the market all the time…(But) rather than focusing where everyone else is, we decided to go all-in on audio."
Monday raised the stakes on that bet. Here's a rundown of some of the more notable announcements:
Stream On: The power of HiFi - Billie Eilish & Finneas
New Subscription Tier: Spotify HiFi will provide subscribers a more refined, "high-end" audio experience. The new tier will roll out in select markets later this year, and will ostensibly compete with other premium streaming services like Tidal and Amazon Music HD.
Spotify Clips: Building on the company's incremental incorporation of video onto its platform, Spotify announced the launch of "Clips," a new feature for artists to share short videos. Described by Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff as a way to "give many of our most popular artists a new way to connect with their fans," Spotify Clips looks similar to the Stories feature that Snap pioneered and which subsequently became a staple of Instagram.
New Artist Marketing Tools: Over 1 million artists use Spotify's suite of artist marketing and data analytics tools each month, said Head of Marketplace Charlie Hellman. "Spotify for Artists" will be made available in 25 additional languages. Among those tools is Canvas, which allows artists to upload visual material to complement their music. Described by music star Halsey as the modern form of album art, Canvas will now be available to all artists following a limited run. Marquee, another artist tool that allows musicians and their teams to sponsor music recommendations, will also be expanding later this year.
More Personalized Playlists: Spotify's chief R&D officer Gustav Söderström underscored the abundance of content on the platform by noting that if someone wanted to listen to the over-50,000 hours of music and podcasts uploaded to Spotify every single day, it would take them over five years. To help users navigate this ocean and discover new music, the company has invested into algorithms that use a combination of machine learning and human curation to build playlists. More of these are coming, with Söderström highlighting that soon the platform's "Daily Mix" franchise, which offers playlists tied to topics like specific genres and decades, will be updated daily.
Renegades: Born in the USA | A Spotify Original Podcast | From Higher Ground
WordPress Partnership: Podcast creators using Spotify's Anchor platform will now be able to "quickly and easily turn written content directly into podcasts," said Sara Lerner, Spotify's head of strategy for podcast formats. "We think this is going to empower a whole new group of creators, people who have historically been more focused on the written word."
Interactive Podcasts: Podcasters will be able to incorporate polls and Q&As in real time to interact with their listeners.
New Podcast Content: Spotify announced a variety of new podcast series, including "Renegades: Born in the USA" hosted by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, "Batman Unburied" in partnership with Warner Bros. and DC, and a new project from Ava Duvernay.
Podcast Discovery: Spotify will soon be unleashing its recommendation algorithms to power podcast discovery. This will include using predictive algorithms to recommend podcasts based on users' musical tastes and allowing users to search for podcasts by theme and topic, based on a machine-learning analysis of episode content.
Growing Podcast Monetization: Spotify's big bet on podcasts comes with an expectation that the still small podcasting market will grow. Ostroff pointed out that although the terrestrial and satellite radio market is about $30 billion, it remains plagued by limited data for advertisers to target listeners with precision. That murky data has carried over into podcasts but, she said, Spotify has been able to change the game here by switching the mode of podcast access from downloads to streaming. To build on that and help marketers reach podcast listeners with targeted ads, Spotify will be launching Spotify Audience Network, a new marketplace for advertisers to buy ads on podcasts. The company also announced that Ad Studio, another channel for marketers, will begin being beta-tested for podcasts. Finally, the company is going to begin testing letting podcasters charge for paid subscriptions.
Eighty-five new markets, 36 new languages: Already available in 93 markets, where it reaches 345 million users and hosts content from over 8 million creators, Spotify will be expanding over the next few days into new markets across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America. This, Ek said, will make Spotify accessible to over 1 billion new potential customers. The company will also nearly double the number of languages in which it's available, to over 60.
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