weekly recap

This week in L.A. tech and startup news: Fintech Dave announced plans to go public via a SPAC. LegalZoom filed for an IPO. Lightspeed bought SoCal retail sites Ecwid and NuORDER, and startups Dispo, StoryFile, ImaginAb and Relativity Space raised funding.

LA's EV Incentives Explained

Southern California residents — especially those living in L.A. — are well positioned to take advantage of rebates and incentives for electric vehicles. In addition to the $1,500 California Clean Fuel Reward and $7,500 maximum federal EV tax credit, L.A. residents can get a $500 rebate toward the purchase of home chargers through the the LADWP.

Techstars' New Space Startups

Techstars' Space Accelerator took off this week with its third class of space-related companies. They make everything from AI-powered smart cameras to technology that can anticipate celestial collisions. Get to know them here.

BallerTV's Plan to Let High School Athletes Earn

Should high school athletes be able to make money from endorsements? Youth sports streaming platform BallerTV is creating NFTs for student athletes. The organization that writes the rules for high school sports says it will "completely disrupt the high school environment."

A New Marketplace for Creative Educators

Encantos, the L.A.-based children's book publisher-turned-edtech startup, plans to include a creator platform on its learning app that will roll out this fall. "Where Roblox as a creator platform connects gamers and developers, we're going to be connecting creators and kids," its CEO says.

Fisker's Climate Neutral Car

Henrik Fisker announced plans for what could be the world's first "climate neutral" vehicle, a car that will be built with the lowest-possible effect on the environment — from how the parts are sourced and assembled to the way it's charged and recycled. "We will prioritize partners with stated pledges to achieve climate neutrality," Fisker said.

How NFTs Are Changing Gaming

What if in-game purchases were also an investment for gamers? Los Angeles-based Mythical Games is bringing NFTs into the gaming world, raising concerns for some that game developers will focus more on the investment opportunity and less on the quality of gameplay.

Vaccination Proof (Not 'Passports')

As L.A. reopens, businesses will have to choose how (or whether) to verify their customers are vaccinated. The county has partnered with Healthvana to offer Angelenos digital cards they can use to share their vaccination record without losing or damaging the physical copy.

Talking to the Past Using AI

Los Angeles startup StoryFile creates interactive videos that archive personal stories and parse them using artificial intelligence, allowing future audiences to ask subjects questions about their lives — including, most recently, the two living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

This week: Songtradr acquired MassiveMusic. Venice-based Trueface was acquired by Pangiam. L.A. startups Red 6, e-gree and Ready, Set, Food! raised funding.

LA's Founders of Color

Founders of color are leading the new wave of L.A. tech startups. Who stands out? We asked the region's top VCs to weigh in. The list includes a young CEO who grew up without internet access who's now building an esports empire as well as a music industry veteran using artificial intelligence to predict what songs will become breakout hits.

Quincy Jones' Guilt-Free NFT Platform for Artists

Legendary musician Quincy Jones has embraced an environmentally friendly non-fungible token (NFT) platform geared toward musicians and their fans. So far, it's raised $63 million to launch.

Your Face = Your Boarding Pass

Your face could soon serve as your passport, boarding pass and health check. Airport security provider Pangiam acquired Santa Monica-based Trueface and their facial recognition tech, as more airports embrace biometrics to screen passengers.

Grieving Parents March on Snap's HQ

Would allowing third-party parental monitoring apps on Snapchat make for fewer instances of drug sales and cyberbullying? Parents who've lost loved ones to such incidents protested outside the app's headquarters Friday, calling for new solutions.

TikTok's Dark Money Influencers

A recent report from Mozilla finds TikTok has been allowing users to post sponsored political content funded by PACs, despite claims that it bans political ads from its platform.

Ready for a Return to Office Awkwardness?

Is your employer planning to resume in-office work? We talked to L.A. startups and tech giants about their remote work policies and whether and how they're preparing to bring back workers safely:

As Live Events Reset, Fanimal Takes on Ticketing

Fanimal's co-founders pitched their new live-events company to investors in the middle of a pandemic, promising that it would have a leg up on rivals hampered by lockdowns. As live events return, it's now showtime for the startup.

This week: Amazon bought MGM. Ziprecruiter and Figs went public and Fifth Wall's latest SPAC debuted on the New York Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, L.A. startups Whatnot, iLife Park Place Payments and Topia raised funding.

A Big Week for SoCal IPOs

In what is partly a reflection of the area's red-hot tech scene and also this year's sizzling IPO market, FIGS, seller of fashionable scrubs, became the latest Southern California company to do what is very much in fashion these days: go public. It was joined earlier in the week by Santa Monica-based ZipRecruiter and Fifth Wall, which debuted its new SPAC on the NYSE.

LA's Head of IT Wants City Workers to Continue Working Remotely 

L.A. Chief Information Officer Ted Ross would like city employees to continue working remotely, at least a couple days a week — potentially permanently. That idea isn't sitting well with some of his bosses. We also talked with him about how tech is being used by the city in a new post-pandemic era.

Disney CEO: Fans Want Flexibility

Disney CEO Bob Chapek told a conference hosted by J.P. Morgan that consumers want flexibility and options when it comes to streaming new original content, and aren't likely to return to a model in which they wait 45 days to see a movie at home. He also suggested viewers could see more sports on Disney Plus soon.

A Brave New World For Better Entertainment?

Paul Zak spent over two decades developing the science beneath his company, Immersion. The software measures and predicts how people respond to music, movies and other experiences by tracking their brain activity and Oxytocin levels. Critics say it goes too far.

Using 'TikTok' Videos to Help Prep For Tests

Emile is a subscription service that preps students for AP tests using short-form video. The startup features lessons from Ivy League professors and charges $27.99 per month. It's the latest to join the edtech boom on which investors have spent $6.39 billion during this year alone.

Will Virtual Concert Audiences Disappear?

"Everyone I know who did it and did it well was like, 'I made more than I've ever made in a single night.'" As music venues open up again, musicians, platforms and promoters are wondering whether their investments in livestreaming concerts will continue to boom, or go bust.

Lead image courtesy of Geekwire.