Jojo Macaluso

Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s subscriber numbers have been a bit Upside Down lately, with the streaming giant shedding customers last quarter instead of adding them.

But one thing that’s still worked well for Netflix is “Stranger Things,” the hit sci-fi horror series that just wrapped up its fourth season. The latest installment surpassed 1 billion hours watched, making it the second-most-viewed title in Netflix history. The show dominates the cultural zeitgeist like few others, with the ability to send singer Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” near the top of the charts 37 years after its release.

So it’s no surprise that Netflix is now doubling down on “Stranger Things,” planning a spinoff series developed by the show’s creators Matt and Ross Duffer.

Building upon proven blockbusters is, of course, not a new idea in Hollywood. But the streaming wars have put the strategy on steroids. Just take a look at Disney Plus, which next month releases “Andor,” a “Star Wars” spinoff that’s a prequel to the spinoff “Rogue One,” as well as “Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation,” in which the galactic battles are put on hold for some much needed R&R. All told, Disney had planned for 10 new Star Wars series and 10 Marvel shows in the near future.

While Netflix lacks that kind of franchise firepower, “Stranger Things” is one of their biggest arsenals. It makes sense that, even as Netflix grasps at new ideas like reversing its resistance to advertising, the company is betting big on something that already works.

The streaming service needs all the help it can get: Netflix not only reported its first subscriber loss in a decade during the first quarter, but predicted that the second quarter would be even worse. That dire prediction came despite knowing that “Stranger Things 4” was set to stream this summer. It’s a sign that, for Netflix, simply adding more “Stranger Things” monsters won’t be a silver bullet.

Here’s What Happened in LA’s Entertainment Tech World This Week 🍿

Glytch wants to build 32 in-person U.S. esports arenas, starting in L.A.

E3, the gaming convention that's been on hold since the pandemic, is returning to L.A. in-person next year.

A lawsuit against TikTok takes a new tack in alleging the company responsible for the death of two children.

TikTok is dropping its plans to bring live shopping to U.S. users.

Lawmakers are pushing the FCC to investigate whether TikTok has deceived U.S. users’ about their data privacy.

Transportation 🚗

Here's where the White House intends to spend over $700 million to boost electric vehicle infrastructure.

Rocket Lab has launched a NASA crew into space on its reusable Electron rocket.

Electric vehicle startups Rivian, Xos and the unpredictable EV industry.

Venture Capital 💰

Long Beach's accelerator program welcomed its fourth cohort of startups.

In the sixth installment of his ‘How to Startup’ series, Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff looks at how to find product-market fit.

See the full list of SoCal fundraising for the week in our "Raises" round up.

🎧 Listen Up 

Hyperprice founder Anthony Katz tells the story of how he “accidentally” became an entrepreneur after meeting Kobe Bryant on this week's PCH Driven podcast.

Overture VC Co-founder Shomik Dutta talks about how his background in politics prepared him for investing in climate tech on the L.A. Venture podcast.

Melissa Hibbért, founder of SHYFT Beauty Consulting, talks about how she went from corporate life to her dream job on the Behind Her Empire podcast.

Also...

A USC program is incubating startups to aid Ukrainian refugees.

Come see dot.LA IRL at LA Tech Week 2022!

Sawtelle-based adtech startup Emotive laid off 18% of its staff.

Healthvana is offering free telehealth visits for those who test positive for COVID-19.

Snapchat hires the former director of the U.S. Secret Service.

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Image courtesy of Brella

A slew of parent-tech companies aimed at finding flexible childcare saw $1.4 billion worth of venture investments in 2021, largely to meet the demands of parents in a pandemic era who have more flexible work commutes and require more tech-enabled solutions.

The U.S. has long dealt with a crippling childcare infrastructure plagued by low wages and a labor shortage in preschools and daycares, but according to a new survey conducted by WiSTEM Los Angeles, the COVID-19 crisis made it worse. During the pandemic, women left the workforce due to the lack of childcare and caretaking resources. By 2021, women made up the lowest percentage of the workforce since 1988.

In the L.A. area, an increasing number of childcare startups are aiming to address the growing national crisis.

This week, we took a look at several such companies, including:

Marina del Rey-based WeeCare, a startup that helps people open their own childcare facilities and works with employers to provide solutions for their employees.

L.A.-based Playground, which raised $3 million in seed funding last year for its in-house platform enabling childcare providers to communicate with staff and parents, track attendance, report student behavior and provide automatic invoicing services.

Brella, which launched in 2019, raised $5 million in seed funding in January to create a tech-enabled daycare scheduling platform that could meet the demand of flexible childcare as parents navigate a hybrid work environment, and recently opened a new location in Hollywood.

Read more in our top story of the week, and explore more tech geared toward families.

Here’s What Happened in LA’s Entertainment Tech World This Week 🍿

Netflix is looking to Asia to increase subscriber growth and replicate the success it's had with “Squid Game.”

Snapchat launched a premium service, Snapchat Plus, for $3.99 a month.

An FCC Commissioner urged Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores.

Live performance app Encore wants to allow musicians to host virtual concerts anywhere and bring them to fans' smartphones.

Activision bought Boston-based game studio Proletariat to expand its ‘World of Warcraft’ team.

Content creators who use their platform to boost crypto-related products could quickly lose up to a quarter of their audience, according to a new survey.

A look at how language-learning app Heypal, like a growing number of startups, uses social media influencers to promote its product.

TikTok parent company ByteDance announced it's brought in over $1 billion in mobile game sales.

A group of TikTok content moderators said they'e faced emotional distress after reviewing hours of disturbing videos on the platform.

Here's a rundown of how Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter are reacting to concerns about privacy on their platforms as some states look to crack down on abortions.

Venture Capital & Finance 💰

MaC Venture Capital surpassed its $200 million goal for its second fund.

Inspectiv raised $8.6 million for a cyber crime-fighting A.I.

Regard raised $15 million to relieve physicians of administrative busywork.

Braid Theory, an accelerator focused on port-centric technology, is accepting applications for its next cohort.

SoCal-based startups raised over $245 million this week. Read about them all in our weekly roundup.

Space 🚀

Virgin Orbit embarked on its first nighttime rocket launch on Thursday, a key step stone to attracting more NASA support.

Relativity Space has now secured over $1.2 billion in launch contracts.

🎧 Listen Up 

Bling Capital’s Kyle Lui talks about how his venture firm aims to support young founders.

Goop Executive VP Noora Raj Brown shares lessons on overcoming self-doubt and burnout while remaining creative.

JC2 Ventures founder and CEO Mark Chambers discusses how investors and executvies should approach an economic downturn.

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The creator economy is the bedrock of this week’s VidCon convention, which drew creators, companies, investors and fans to Anaheim to discuss the booming creator landscape and how it's affecting industries and advertisers.

This growth stems from a surge in the number of creators , many of whom found themselves reconsidering their careers during the pandemic. Since then, their influence on consumers and viewers has dramatically shifted and advertising budgets have bent in their direction. Content creation has emerged as a legitimate professional route.

“As an older person, I thought this was the downfall of Western civilization,” Investcorp Managing Director Anand Radhakrishnan, a panelist at a discussion titled “Betting Big on the Creator Economy,” said.

The drift toward short-form content from both consumers and advertisers suggests more investment dollars will be redirected away from longer-form shows and film.

“At the end of the day, I think it reflects that this is real—and as an investor, we’re looking at ways to invest in the next great economies,” Radhakrishnan added.

Even as the global economy is threatened with another disruption in the form of an increasingly likely recession, panelists said they're optimistic about the creator economy’s prospects, especially given how versatile creators have proven themselves to be during the past downturn and how dependent advertisers have become on influencers.

“It is almost winter-agnostic,” Team8 Fintech Managing Partner Yuval Tal said. “The shift [toward the creator economy] is so massive that no [economic] winter can slow it down.”

Here’s What Happened in LA’s Entertainment Tech World This Week 🍿

As expected, Netflix laid off an additional 300 employees on Thursday.

Many high-profile TikTokers skipped out on this year's creator Mecca, VidCon.

Youtube Shorts is extremely popular in India — where TikTok, its main competitor, is banned. The Google-owned company is now looking at how it might dethrone TikTok in the U.S.

Engineers in China were able to see TikTok users' data, right down to birthdays and phone numbers, according to a recent report.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel wants to make Snapchat a "super app," much as its rival, Twitter's, new owner hopes to do.

Creator monetization tool Jellysmack is expanding to help TikTokers find new ways to grow their audience and profits.

Transportation 🚗

West Hollywood-based e-bike startup Wheels is merging with micromobility operator Helbiz, which went public via a SPAC last year.

Santa Monica-based micromobility startup Veo makes inroads in Los Angeles.

Venture Capital & Finance 💰

Launch House, an L.A. based live-in accelerator program, unveiled three more virtual residency programs.

Vamstar, which runs AI-enabled sourcing for medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, raised $9.5 million.

Three L.A. startups are part of this year’s Snap Yellow Accelerator program this year.

Snapchat is launching a program to give 25 emerging Black creators $10,000 a month for one year.

Greenwood acquired L.A.-based Valence, a networking platform for Black professionals.

As part of his series on "how to startup," Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff looked at how to build a minimum viable product

L.A. startups raised over $209 million this week. Read about them all in our weekly roundup.

🎧 Listen Up 

Outlander VC founder Paige Craig talks about how he invested early in major companies and the people who built them.

Camille Styles opens up about burnout, risk-taking and how she turned her passion for blogging into a thriving business.

Also...

Disney is developing “robotic Sherpas” that will help carry guests belongings around its parks.

Raytheon is looking to hire 1,000 more employees in Southern California to tackle new government contracts.

Wheelhouse DNA and DISQO are among tech companies that had new hires this week. See them all in our weekly round up.

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