'There's a Real Energy in This City': The Chainsmokers on LA's Tech Scene

It seems everyone wants to be a VC these days, so why can't the Chainsmokers join the line-up?

Earlier this year, the electronic DJ and production duo, Alex Pall and Drew Taggart, announced the debut of their $35 million early-stage fund.

Being a DJ and a startup VC would appear to have little in common, but at a lunchtime panel on the first day of the dot.LA Summit, the pair said there are actually a number of parallels.

"We built the Chainsmokers from nothing and so we think of ourselves as founders, too," said Taggart, who added that personal chemistry is key in both music and startups. "The luckiest thing was to meet each other."


That luck has turned into a lucrative career that will be hard to top in the startup world. The Chainsmokers became the highest-earning DJ act in the world last year, earning over $46 million in a single year, according to Forbes.

Chainsmokers youtu.be

Taggart also talked about their decision to sell their entire catalog of 32 songs last year, saying they got "a great price" (which was not disclosed.) He also is not sure their music will be worth as much in years to come because he sees music tastes as increasingly fickle.

"I don't know if kids ten years from now will listen," Taggart said.

Their fund has a name, Mantis, more befitting a band. Mark Cuban, Keith Rabois, Jim Coulter Ron Conway and dot.LA Chairman Spencer Rascoff, who moderated the panel, are all investors.

One of Mantis' first investments was in the L.A. based fitness app FitOn, and Pall said he's excited about joining the city's tech scene.

"There's a real energy in this city that people are beginning to take notice of," Pall said. "We're pumped to be a part of it."

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On this week's episode of LA Venture, hear from Marcos Gonzalez, the managing partner at Vamos Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund which invests in Latino and diverse founders. Over half of L.A. County is Latino. A relatively new fund, investments are in the range of $100,000 to $500,000. Seems like a great time to be investing in this community! And, Vamos is hiring...

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El Segundo-based telemedicine technology provider Cloudbreak Health and Florida-based UpHealth Holdings, a digital healthcare provider, announced they will combine and go public via a SPAC in a deal that values the combined companies at $1.35 billion.

Named UpHealth, Inc., the new company aims to streamline online health care by becoming a single provider of four different services: telehealth, teletherapy, a health care appointment and management system and an online pharmacy.

UpHealth runs healthcare platform Thrasys Inc. and MedQuest Pharmacy, along with two other behavioral health companies. The merger with Cloudbreak, which under the pandemic expanded their interpretation services to remote medicine, will give the new company a foothold in almost 2,000 hospitals.

"What we wanted to do was form a business that could really be a digital infrastructure for health care across the continuum of care, right from home to hospital," said Jamey Edwards, the co-founder and executive director of Cloudbreak. Under the agreement, he will become the company's chief operating officer.

GigCapital2 expects the merger transaction to close at the start of Q1 2021. UpHealth will be publicly traded under the ticker "UPH" on the New York Stock Exchange. UpHealth's integrated care management platform serves over 5 million people, and is expected to reach 40 million over the next three years, according to the company.

Jamey Edwards, Cloudbreak

Jamey Edwards, co-founder and executive director of Cloudbreak

COVID-19 caused a meteoric growth in the use of telehealth services. In February, 0.1% of Medicare primary visits were provided through telehealth. In April, that number was nearly 44%, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Key stakeholders have seen and responded well to the benefits that telemedicine can bring, but they need a more comprehensive, integrated solution," said Al Gatmaitan, who has been named the co-chief executive officer of UpHealth. "This is what UpHealth focuses on, the adoption of digital health solutions well beyond the pandemic crisis."

The deal with the blank check company GigCapital2 gives the two digital health companies access to a wider network. UpHealth and its family of companies operate in 10 countries and their pharmacy has 13,000 e-prescribers in the U.S.


UpHealth will use the Cloudbreak platform as part of their global telehealth services to provide patients with round-the-clock care under a variety of specialties, including telepsychiatry and tele-urology. UpHealth also has contracts internationally, to provide country-wide care in India, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Edwards joined Cloudbreak in 2008 when it went from public to private. It has raised $35 million in venture funds, most recently in the first quarter of this year scoring $10 million from Columbia Partners Private Capital.

Ryan Edwards, the co-founder of Happier Camper, said he's asked all the time if his company leans on influencer marketing to promote their vintage-style trailers beloved by millennials.

With a waitlist six months out and demand growing from hotel-weary travelers, he said it isn't a priority yet.

"We almost don't need to," said Edwards.

That's because the $25,000 to $50,000 custom trailers have been a hit with a loyal fan base, and rising demand during the pandemic has only helped. Orders for compact trailers at the lower price end, including Happier Camper's 75-square-foot camper, are growing as newbie road trippers look for COVID-safe travels.

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