Over the last decade, Los Angeles has developed one of the leading startup ecosystems in the world. Venture capital investment in the city's startups has grown dramatically, and an increasing share is coming from Asia.
Major Chinese companies including Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba and Wanda Group have invested in local startups, many of which want to gain a toehold in key Asian markets. Wavemaker Partners, which is co-headquartered in Santa Monica and Singapore, recently announced the close of its third and largest fund focused on Southeast Asia.
Will this trend continue in spite of rising political tensions and economic uncertainty fueled by the ongoing COVID-19 fallout? What does the future hold for VC-funded start-ups on both sides of the Pacific?
Join us for an wide-ranging discussion with venture capitalists Seamon Chan, co-founder and managing partner at Palm Drive Capital and an advisory board member of Asia Society Southern California; Eric Manlunas, founder and managing partner of Wavemaker Partners and Yida Gao, general partner at Struck Capital, as they explore cross-border VC investments and opportunities between Southern California and Asia. Ben Bergman, senior reporter at dot.LA, will moderate.
- LA Seed Investment is Down, But Better Than Expected - dot.LA ›
- How the WeChat Ban Could Ripple Through California Tech - dot.LA ›
- Pandemic, Strained U.S. China Relations Force Investors to Pivot - dot.LA ›
California is the world's largest legal pot market, generating nearly $3.1 billion in spending in the Golden State alone. But cannabis-related businesses in the U.S. live in a legal-limbo, operating in this strange gray area between federal laws that make marijuana illegal and states that have decriminalized its use and sale entirely. This has led to sometimes difficult choices, workarounds and issues with which the cannabis and cannabis-linked companies are forced to contend.
dot.LA dove into this tenuous landscape during a virtual panel discussion on Tuesday with experts in cannabis compliance and legal issues, asking them: Is the green rush over? The consensus seemed to be that no, it isn't, but this first wave of "reckless money," likely is.
Tuesday's conversation on the current state and future of California's marijuana marketplace capped off the conclusion of dot.LA's five-part investigative series examining the rapid rise and rapid fall of L.A.-based Genius Fund, a one-time $164 million cannabis company. Today that money is gone and their Russian oligarch investor is dead.
Hilary Bricken, Partner of Harris Bricken
Hilary Bricken, Partner of Harris Bricken<p>Since joining Harris Bricken in 2010, Hilary has earned a reputation as an exceptional and fearless business law attorney. Hilary's clients—start-ups, entrepreneurs, and companies in all stages of development—value her bold approach to business strategy. Hilary also appears before city councils and community forums, where she advocates tirelessly for her clients.</p><p>In 2017, the American Bar Association (ABA) named Hilary one of the <a href="https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2017/07/aba_young_lawyersdi/" target="_blank">top 40 young lawyers</a> nationwide and before that <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2013/12/14/newsmakers-of-2013-deal-makers.html" target="_blank">The Puget Sound Business Journal</a> named her as one of only seven deal makers of the year. She was by far the youngest and the only private practice attorney to garner this honor. Hilary was also named one of "<a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/print-edition/2015/09/11/2015-40-under-40-hilary-bricken.html" target="_blank">40 Under 40</a>" leading businesspeople by the PS Business Journal. In every year since 2014, Hilary has been chosen as a "Rising Star" lawyer by Super Lawyer's magazine.</p><p>Major media outlets like the New York Times, VICE, the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Business Insider, CNN, Rolling Stone, Forbes, MSNBC, and Bloomberg all have turned to Hilary for her on-the-ground perspective on cannabis laws. Hilary's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M4Fse1Ioaw" target="_blank">Tedx talk</a> on "big cannabis" (see below) has garnered more than 50,000 views and she also authors a weekly column for <a href="https://abovethelaw.com/tag/hilary-bricken/" target="_blank">Above the Law </a>on marijuana policy and regulation.</p>
Tanya Hoke, Managing Director of Galen Diligence
Tanya Hoke, Managing Director of Galen Diligence<p>Tanya has more than a dozen years of experience managing investigative due diligence for clients in industries ranging from pharmaceuticals and manufacturing to financial services and consulting. She has been advising investors in the cannabis industry since 2015, and focuses on issues relating to fraud, money-laundering, compliance, and corporate governance. Tanya is a Certified Fraud Examiner, a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist, and a licensed private investigator. She has served on the National Cannabis Industry Association's Banking & Financial Services Committee and the State Regulations Committee. Tanya received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College and a Master of International Business degree from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where she serves on the MIB Alumni Advisory Board.</p>
Brad Rowe, Director of Compliance, Operations and Regulations Analyst of Rowe Policy Media
Brad Rowe, Director of Compliance, Operations and Regulations Analyst of Rowe Policy Media<p>Brad has designed, implemented and delivered a dozen public policy research projects over the last six years through his time running BOTEC Analysis, at UCLA and with Avenu/MuniServices Cannabis Compliance and Support Services and Rowe Policy + Media. Brad is Lecturer of Public Policy at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and recently started teaching Cannabis Policy and Society, the first of its kind in the country. </p><p>He serves as Advisor to the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, coordinating the Criminal and JuvenileJustice Research team and the California Cannabis Data Collection Project. He sat on the CommunityAdvisory Committee for the Los Angeles County Department of Health's impact assessment on cannabis. </p><p>In 2020 Brad has taken on the cannabis "dosing problem". To help naive and legacy consumers dose new cannabis products predictably and reliably. The HowHi App Data Project provides evidence based insights into the Quality, Duration and Amplitude of the cannabis experience. The variables are crowd-sourced via experiential self-reports on iOS and Android interfaces. </p>
Andrew Freedman, Senior Vice President at Forbes Tate Partners
Andrew Freedman, Senior Vice President at Forbes Tate Partners<p>Andrew brings vast experience from his three years as the State of Colorado's first Director of Cannabis Coordination. During this time, he developed distinctive experience effectively implementing voter-mandated legalized adult-use and medical cannabis while protecting public health, maintaining public safety, and keeping cannabis out of the hands of children.<br><br>Andrew's role in developing a successful operating model for cannabis regulation and stakeholder collaboration was identified as one of the reasons for the State of Colorado's success in implementing adult-use cannabis legalization by the Brookings Institution. Governor Hickenlooper has gone so far as to praise Andrew's work while on national television, stating, "Andrew Freedman, who came in and helped us once it was passed . . . [has] done a remarkable job of creating a regulatory framework."<br><br>Andrew has received national recognition for his leadership. Men's Health Magazine named him one of the 30 most influential health influencers of the last 30 years. He was recognized as one of Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business" in 2016. He has been featured on 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Governing Magazine, and dozens of local stories throughout the nation and internationally.</p>
Tami Abdollah, Senior Reporter at dot.LA
Tami Abdollah, Senior Reporter at dot.LA<p>Tami Abdollah is dot.LA's senior technology reporter. She was previously a national security and cybersecurity reporter for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C. She's been a reporter for the AP in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times and for L.A.'s NPR affiliate KPCC. Abdollah spent nearly a year in Iraq as a U.S. government contractor. A native Angeleno, she's traveled the world on $5 a day, taught trad climbing safety classes and is an avid mountaineer.</p>
- The Rise and Fall of Genius Fund's $164M Cannabis Empire - dot.LA ›
- Tech Companies are Getting Caught in Marijuana Regulation - dot.LA ›
- Green Rush: What Went Down in Adelanto - dot.LA ›
Kevin Demoff, the chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Rams, is confident the team can open their new $5 billion stadium in Inglewood against the Dallas Cowboys on September 13th. He said he is encouraged by what he has seen since players starting reporting to training camp on July 21st.
"We've all probably expected the worst in terms of the number of positive tests and while we've had some, I think the percentages have been much lower than those in the general population," Demoff told dot.LA on a Tuesday panel about the future of sports. "I think there's excitement that once we get going, hopefully we can keep it moving."
Demoff spoke on the panel alongside Julie Uhrman, founder and president of WFC LA (Angel City), a new professional women's soccer club that will debut in 2022. The two discussed a wide variety of topics, including the future of media rights, the impact of legalized sports betting and the challenge of operating a sports franchise in Los Angeles, where there is considerable competition for fans' attention and where many viewers already have allegiances to teams in other cities.
But the biggest challenge for the foreseeable future is pulling off a season despite the raging coronavirus. Unlike the NBA, the NFL is not using any sort of bubble, which has led to fears it may suffer the same fate as MLB, whose season seems to be teetering on the brink of cancellation after multiple outbreaks. But Demoff said NFL teams have the advantage of quickly getting in and out of cities rather having the extended stays of MLB teams.
"Seemingly it's coming from teams that are traveling on the road and I think that's something that we can all study to understand how we tighten up those restrictions when we travel," Demoff said. "We can't create our own bubble, but you can create a fairly effective system to find anybody who might be asymptomatic and spreading the virus and make sure you quarantine them quickly and then isolate those who are in contact."
Demoff said the Rams are making multiple contingency plans for how SoFi Stadium will look this season, depending on the course of the virus.
"We have formats for no fans. We have formats for 15,000 fans – which seems the most likely right now. We're making plans for 50% full and then ultimately we've always planned for 100%," Demoff said.
The National Women's Soccer League was the first league to return to competition in the United States in June and pulled off a successful season and playoff, though teams were sequestered in a bubble.
"They created an environment where there were no positive COVID test since everyone got into the bubble," Uhrman said. "The other thing that was really miraculous is they brought on board additional sponsors throughout."
Uhrman said L.A.'s newest team has the benefit of not playing until 2022. She was tight-lipped on what stadium the team will call home.
"We're looking for a world class, professional venue," Uhrman said. "We are in conversations as we speak and we'll announce before the end of the year where we're playing."
Copy of dot.LA Strategy Session || The Future of Sports www.youtube.com
About This Event
On Tuesday, August 4th, dot.LA hosted a Strategy Session on "The Future of Sports."
The Rams and Chargers are set to play in a brand new $5.5 billion stadium in Inglewood this season that is being billed as the most technologically advanced in the world. Meanwhile, Dodger Stadium just completed a $100 million update. L.A.'s new pro women's soccer team, Angel City, will start play in 2022, backed by high profile VCs and celebrities.
The problem is, no one knows how the season will look or, in some cases, if there will even be a season as the number of coronavirus cases continue to surpass records in the U.S. What does the future of sports hold during and after the coronavirus pandemic?
dot.LA Senior Reporter Ben Bergman hosts Julie Uhrman, founder and president at WFC LA (Angel City), and Kevin Demoff, chief operating officer at Los Angeles Rams, for a virtual roundtable discussion. Watch the discussion above.
Julie Uhrman, Founder and President at WFC LA (Angel City)
Julie Uhrman, Founder and President at WFC LA (Angel City)
Founder and president of Angel City, the consortium who received the rights from the NWSL to officially bring a women's soccer team to Los Angeles in 2022.
Uhrman was named head of media at Playboy in 2018 after serving as Lionsgate's GM of over-the-top ventures, overseeing the company's Tribeca Shortlist, Comic-Con HQ, Laugh Out Loud in partnership with Kevin Hart and Pantaya.
Prior to joining Lionsgate, Uhrman worked at VR vendor Jaunt as head of platform business development. She was the founder and CEO of OUYA, an Android-based game console for living room, which raised $8.6 million through Kickstarter and then went on to secure venture funding from Kleiner Perkins and Alibaba before the company was acquired by Razer in 2015. Previously Uhrman held executive roles in digital and game companies including IGN Entertainment and Vivendi Universal.
Kevin Demoff, Chief Operating Officer at Los Angeles Rams
Kevin Demoff, Chief Operating Officer at Los Angeles Rams
Kevin Demoff is in his 11th year as chief operating officer with the Rams. In this capacity, Demoff serves as the team's top front office executive and liaison to owner and chairman, Stan Kroenke, on all organizational matters.
Demoff was recognized by the Sports Business Journal as one of its "Forty under 40" class members of 2016 and in 2010 he was named one of the "NFL's 10 Future Power Brokers" by Sports Illustrated.
Prior to joining the Rams, Demoff spent the previous four seasons (2005-08) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he served as a consultant before being named senior assistant in 2006. In this capacity, Demoff assisted General Manager Bruce Allen in contract negotiations, salary cap management, strategic planning and both college and pro scouting. During his tenure with the Buccaneers, the team captured NFC South titles in 2005 and 2007 while posting a winning record in three of his four seasons.
Ben Bergman, Senior Reporter at dot.LA
Ben Bergman, Senior Reporter at dot.LA
Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior reporter, covering venture capital. Previously he was a senior reporter/host at KPCC, a producer at Gimlet Media and NPR and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times. Bergman was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. He enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.
- Kobe Bryant Remembered as Venture Capitalist in L.A. - dot.LA ›
- More Sports Video App Aims to Bring NBA to China - dot.LA ›