Four years ago, I moved back to Los Angeles, my hometown. I'd spent the previous 15 years running a startup in Seattle (Zillow) and the five years before that at my prior startup in San Francisco (Hotwire). After almost 20 years away, it was time to come home.
Both San Francisco and Seattle have well-deserved, global reputations for innovation. Their tech scenes are robust, and I was proud to have played an active role in each of them as a founder, angel investor, mentor to other startups, and tech exec. But L.A.?
When I came back to L.A. in 2016, I was blown away by all the innovation that was happening here. We had great companies here: Snap, Tinder, Bird, Cloud Kitchens, and many more. But the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit was much more widespread than I suspected. After I moved back, I reconnected with many old friends and started to plug into the tech and startup scene. I advised entrepreneurs, met with VCs and invested in some companies, which gave me incredible insight to the diversity of companies being started here, and the spirit of the people innovating here.
I found that L.A. has all the ingredients necessary for a vibrant tech and startup ecosystem: angel investors, early- and late-stage VCs, private equity, unicorns, big exits, public companies, and great universities. In short, there was much more going on in L.A. tech than I expected.
The tech and startup scene in L.A. is geographically spread out (from Venice and Santa Monica to the west, to downtown L.A. and Silver Lake to the east; from the north San Fernando Valley to El Segundo to the South), and is spread across so many industries (aerospace, gaming, ecommerce, AdTech, FoodTech, media, and more). Because of its breadth and diversity, no one seemed to have a good handle on the size and scope of the overall L.A. tech scene. There was no town crier to unify the community and to shine a light on it. In short, the missing ingredient was journalism.
That's where dot.LA comes in. We are a news and events company with a mission of shining a light on the innovation in the L.A. startup and tech community.
We're inspired by Geekwire in Seattle and TechCrunch in the Bay Area -- both fantastic sources of journalism and essential parts of their communities. We're also inspired by the great outlets that cover the entertainment industry. In fact, our editor-in-chief comes to dot.LA from Variety.
I can't think of a better time to launch dot.LA. The 2020s are going to be an explosive decade for our city and its business community. I predict that in 2030, we'll look back and say the 20s were to L.A. as the '00s were to San Francisco: a decade that changed everything, and redefined how people across the world look at our city. We are already home to companies operating at the fascinating intersections of tech, fashion, entertainment, pop culture and media. That's distinctly L.A., and it's only going to grow. One of the first tasks of the editorial team at dot.LA was to conduct a census of the size and scope of the tech scene here, and we were impressed by what we found. We identified over hundreds of tech companies and startups covering dozens of subsectors of tech, with hundreds of thousands of employees across Los Angeles. As I said, there's more here than most people realize!
dot.LA will be here to chronicle it all. Our newsroom is already staffed with 7 incredible reporters from places like The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and NPR. With more reporters dedicated to covering Los Angeles startups and entrepreneurship than any other news outlet, dot.LA's reporting team will tell the stories of great L.A. startups and tech companies.
I hope dot.LA can play another important role as we enter this new decade. At this moment, L.A. has a distinct advantage. We can go into this decade with our eyes wide open, and we can make intentional decisions about our values. We can create a shared culture that will see us through and beyond that explosive growth. We can learn from the other start-ups hubs that came before us, and ensure we don't make the same mistakes. We can -- and should -- prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion at the beginning of our growth, when it can become ingrained into how we run our businesses.
L.A. is hungry for dot.LA. When my co-founder and dot.LA CEO Sam Adams started to fundraise for the project, the interest was immediate. Around 100 people and companies in the L.A. tech scene have invested in our $4 million seed round. We have funding from traditional VCs, but also from a diverse base of companies and individuals. The L.A. Dodgers and Snap, Inc., are investors, as are entrepreneurs and executives from dozens of leading L.A. tech companies. You can see a full list here.
We are at the beginning of an incredible story. I'm happy that dot.LA will be here to cover it.
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