Ticket Platform Granted Launches As Live Events Emerge From Pandemic

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Granted
Image courtesy of Granted

The idea of launching a live event ticket platform during a global pandemic didn’t phase Shayma Hesari.

Hesari and Matt Ampolsky began working on the idea for an “experiential” ticket platform during the summer of 2020, when concerts and sporting events were cancelled en masse. But Hesari said they never doubted that fans would return to venues once it was safer to do so. In the meantime, they hired developers to build Granted, the Santa Monica-based ticketing platform that publicly launched Tuesday.


“There should have been a lot more concern, but I think we were just on a mission,” Hesari quipped. “Personally, I’m just a massive risk-taker when it comes to disruptive spaces.”

Granted, which soft-launched in February 2021, aims to disrupt the ticketing industry in a number of ways. Beyond selling tickets to shows, the startup offers fans VIP experiences such as meet-and-greets with artists and athletes, and hosts auctions that benefit a charity of a given talent’s choice. Granted also accepts cryptocurrency as payment and has minted NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, for athletes like NFL running back Saquon Barkley.

The company also announced Tuesday that it raised a $3 million seed investment from Ampolsky, who doubles as Granted’s co-founder and angel investor. (Ampolsky is an entertainment industry investor who also serves as CEO of Santa Monica-based events agency Confirmed360.) Among other things, the money will be used to grow the Granted’s seven-employee staff and build a marketplace where fans can resell tickets. Currently, the tickets offered on Granted are funneled from third-party companies used by ticket brokers.

Online ticket sellers were hammered during the early days of the pandemic; the industry saw a nearly 56% drop in revenue in 2020, according to market research firm IBISWorld. Yet online ticket sales showed signs of a rebound during the second half of last year, as vaccines rolled out and governments lifted restrictions. Ticketmaster, owned by Beverly Hills-based Live Nation, reported its highest-ever quarterly operating income in the third quarter of 2021, after posting a $197 million loss in the year-earlier period.

“I think [ticket retailers] will recover to the pre-pandemic levels—and probably even go higher, because people have been tied down so much,” according to Gerard Tellis, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. “But a lot depends on the intensity of COVID.”

Granted has generated nearly $500,000 in gross sales since soft-launching last year; it plans to triple that figure this year through the VIP partnerships it has lined up alone, Hesari said, including events with rapper The Kid LAROI and the actor Rotimi. Among others, Granted has previously worked with former Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal on an auction, and it offered VIP packages for last year’s boxing exhibition between retired ex-champion Floyd Mayweather and YouTuber-turned-fighter Logan Paul.

The company ultimately aims to develop a secondary ticket market that pays royalties to artists. Hesari noted that many artists make the bulk of their money through touring these days—and though many artists make a very healthy living that way, she added that the amount they collect from their events is smaller than you would think after ticketing agents and other third parties get their cut.

“It's really important for us to continue to make [artists] feel both motivated and empowered by their fans,” she said.

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Cadence

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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