Catch Up On This Week's Top 5 Stories With Our Video Recap

Kelly O'Grady
Kelly O'Grady is dot.LA's chief host & correspondent. Kelly serves as dot.LA's on-air talent, and is responsible for designing and executing all video efforts. A former management consultant for McKinsey, and TV reporter for NESN, she also served on Disney's Corporate Strategy team, focusing on M&A and the company's direct-to-consumer streaming efforts. Kelly holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. A Boston native, Kelly spent a year as Miss Massachusetts USA, and can be found supporting her beloved Patriots every Sunday come football season.
Catch Up On This Week's Top 5 Stories With Our Video Recap

L.A.'s tech and startup community was active as ever this week. dot.LA chief host and correspondent Kelly O'Grady takes you through the key points of the top five headlines:

  • TikTok Plans IPO, Considers Instagram Co-Founder as CEO
  • 'LinkedIn. Is. Not. A. Dating. Site': Should People Be Trying to Find Love on LinkedIn?
  • Zwift Takes on Peloton with $450M Investment
  • Flush with $87 Million, Boosted Commerce Prepares for Massive Amazon Shopping Spree
  • An Early Peek at First Look's Showcase of Cutting-Edge Science Startups


    Weekly Recap: TikTok may be banned, LinkedIn is being used for dating and Zwift raises fundswww.youtube.com


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      🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
      Image Source: Paramount

      Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

      🔦 Spotlight

      Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

      Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

      The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


      🤝 Venture Deals

      LA Companies

      • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

      LA Venture Funds


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      😊🚘 Rivian's $5 Billion Lifeline

      🔦 Spotlight

      Volkswagen announced on Tuesday a significant investment of up to $5 billion in Rivian, a struggling electric truck manufacturer known for its vehicles' distinctive smiley-face design reminiscent of Volkswagen's iconic Beetle. This partnership marks a unique collaboration between the world's second-largest automaker and a startup grappling with profitability challenges akin to those faced by Tesla. Volkswagen's infusion of $1 billion initially, potentially rising to $5 billion pending regulatory approval, underscores its strategic pivot towards enhancing its electric vehicle (EV) software capabilities, an area where analysts believe the company has lagged.

      For Rivian, which has received acclaim for its electric trucks and SUVs but struggles with production ramp-up and financial losses, the investment offers crucial financial backing. The company plans to utilize Volkswagen's expertise in manufacturing, leveraging the German automaker's annual production of nearly 10 million vehicles. This alliance aims to bolster Rivian's efforts to launch new models like the R2 midsize SUV and complete its Georgia factory, paused earlier this year to conserve funds. Rivian's stock surged upwards of 40% following the announcement, reflecting investor optimism in the company's future prospects.

      Despite their differing corporate cultures—Volkswagen's traditional, structured approach contrasted with Rivian's agile tech startup ethos—the CEOs of both companies expressed mutual admiration and shared goals during the partnership announcement. The collaboration is expected to yield EV software solutions benefiting Volkswagen's various brands, potentially including Audi and Porsche, while allowing Rivian to maintain its brand identity and separate vehicle marketing strategies. This strategic partnership between Volkswagen and Rivian not only promises to revolutionize the electric vehicle market but also highlights the potential for collaboration between established automakers and innovative startups in Southern California, where Rivian is based. Here’s to hoping these smiling cars will balance out some of the inevitable LA road rage.

      🤝 Venture Deals

      LA Companies

      • HeyGen, a startup that allows users to generate videos with AI-created avatars that can lip-sync to provided audio, making it easier for businesses to create engaging video content, raised a $60M Funding Round at a $500M post-money valuation. The deal was led by Benchmark, with Conviction, Thrive Capital, and Bond Capital also stepping up. - learn more
      • Pomerium, a startup that provides a secure access platform that dynamically verifies user identities to ensure authorized access to applications and services, raised a $13.8M Series A round led by Benchmark and including previous investors Bain Capital, Haystack, and SNR. - learn more
      • Etched, a maker of transformer-specialized AI chips, raised a $120M Funding Round. - learn more
      • Rocketlane, a customer onboarding platform, raised a $24M Series B co-led by 8VC, Matrix Partners India, and Nexus Venture Partners. - learn more
      • Sift, a developer of unified observability solutions for hardware sensor data, raised a $17.5M Series A led by GV. - learn more
      • LOST iN, a travel media brand, raised a $4M Seed Round led by MaC Venture Capital. - learn more

      LA Venture Funds


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