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

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

'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.


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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Aisha Counts is a business reporter covering the technology industry. She has written extensively about tech giants, emerging technologies, startups and venture capital. Before becoming a journalist she spent several years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
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