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What should be the relationship between every startup and their investor?
Last week, dot.LA hosted a Summer Series event that featured a discussion with Justice Tention, chief operating officer at Clash App, and Travis Mason, an operating partner at Alexis Ohanian's Seven Seven Six.
The event was hosted by STAY OPEN, a Venice-based firm transforming unused commercial space into affordable, socially engaging POD hotels and co-living properties, and it was attended by an exclusive list of investors, startup founders and technologists.
Mason says that the relationship between an investor and a startup starts with the rudimentary questions of what drives passion.
"Why do you want to spend the next 10 years of your life building X thing?" said Mason. "The answer to that question can tell you a lot about someone can tell you a lot about their leadership, and tell you a lot about why they're doing what they're doing. So diligence for us is really taking a test on on the founder their skills and the team skills."
Tention adds that the creator space has changed dramatically, moving from a place where everybody is attached to a platform to where now large audiences follow creators to other platforms.
"We think it's really important to build a team that understands the lived experience of the users," Tention said about what every investor looks for in a startup.
Stay tuned for this and other events from dot.LA.
The Los Angeles-based disposable camera app Dispo, whose co-founder stepped down after one of his crew members was accused of sexual assault, confirmed it closed a Series A.
The boost for an undisclosed amount is a comeback for the startup marred by the scandal. Alexis Ohanian's Seven Seven Six, Unshackled Ventures, Endeavor, 35 Ventures and F9 Strategies led the round.
Absent from the round is Spark Capital, which said in March that it would "sever all ties" with the startup following an investigation from Business Insider about a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by a former content creator in Dobrik's vlog crew.
Dobrik also cut ties with the company in March and issued a YouTube apology for his behavior.
After the report, Seven Seven Six tweeted that it would "donate any profits from our investment in Dispo to an organization working with survivors of sexual assault," but added that it would continue to support the company. The firm did not immediately respond for comment.
Among the company's new backers are celebrities Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Cara Delevigne and Sofia Vergara — plus photographers Annie Leibovitz and Raven B. Varona, who "will hold us to a higher standard of photographic excellence," Dispo's CEO David Liss said in a blog post announcing the raise.
The app works like a plastic disposable camera, releasing a user's photos 24 hours after taking them. An updated version, which launched in February, introduced social functions like "Rolls" for users to scroll through each other's pictures.
Like the founders of new L.A. photo app Poparazzi, Dispo's team is pushing for a social media experience that feels less orchestrated and curated. In Tuesday's blog post, Liss pointed to big tech's reach on "body dysmorphia and mental health."
"Imagine a world where Dispo is the social network of choice for every teen and college student in the world," he wrote. "How different a world would that be?"
"Our resolves are strengthened. With our product, team, and community we have a chance to build differently, creating a company on our terms and our values. Hope springs eternal, and Dispo is ready."
- David Dobrik, the Dispo Meltdown and Investor Responsibility - dot.LA ›
- Spark Capital Severs Ties with David Dobrik's Dispo - dot.LA ›
- Will the Dispo Disaster Change How VCs Operate? ›
- David Dobrik's Dispo App Intros Retro Camera Waiting Periods - dot ... ›
As the influencer economy grows, creators are looking for more ways to make money.
The Los Angeles-based Pearpop hopes to help them do just that. On Thursday, it got a $16 million boost to grow its influencer monetization platform.
Pearpop launched in October 2020. Currently integrated into TikTok only, the startup helps social media creators make money by collaborating with other creators, through making a shared video, leaving a comment or incorporating someone's sound clip into a post.
The investment was split between two rounds. One, a $10 million Series A, was led by Alexis Ohanian's Seven Seven Six venture firm with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners. The other was a prior $6 million seed round co-led by Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary's Sound Ventures and Slow Ventures, with participation from Atelier Ventures and Chapter One Ventures.
Numerous celebrities have also invested, including Snoop Dogg, Mark Cuban, Kevin Durant, The Chainsmokers, Amy Schumer, MrBeast and Kevin Hart.
Pearpop co-founders Cole Mason (left) and Spencer Markel.Courtesy Pairpop
Pearpop was founded by Cole Mason, who joined the tech industry after a run as a male model.
"The initial concept came out of an obvious gap within the space: no marketplace existed for creators of all sizes to monetize through simple, authentic collaborations that are mutually beneficial," Mason said in a statement.
Pearpop says it has attracted 10,000 creators to the platform, including Snoop Dogg, Tony Hawk and Heidi Klum.
Employing a similar business model as Cameo, payments are negotiated between the two parties, with Pearpop taking a percentage of the transaction. Prices vary depending on the particular request. Snoop Dogg asks $5,000 for a duet and $1,500 for using another creator's sound recording.
Several influencer talent agencies have added their rosters to Pearpop, including TalentX, Get Engaged, Next Step Talent and The Fuel Injector, according to the company's statement.
Along with Pearpop, other startups in L.A. working to grow the influencer economy's financial infrastructure include Promotely, Social Native, and a host of marketing agencies. Snapchat has been paying $1 million a day to users posting videos onto its Spotlight platform and TikTok has set aside a $2 billion fund to pay creators over the next two and a half years.
Add it all up and the many young people who dream of making it big as a social media star may have some cause for optimism.