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By now, everyone has heard about 5G but Verizon says the wireless network technology goes far beyond faster web surfing and streaming.
Tech industry leaders and venture capitalists gathered for a final dot.LA 2021 Summer Series event at the Verizon 5G Labs in Playa Vista on Thursday to get a first-hand look at the technological promises of the new generation of wireless. The event was sponsored by Compass real estate agents Ari Afshar of Voyage Real Estate, Lauren Forbes and Jen Winston.
Luke Wang, 5G Labs lead for Verizon, moderated a speaker panel featuring Pam Allison, head of 5G Labs strategy and partnerships, Ian Nelson, senior manager of business development of Ryot, and Corey Laplante, chief operating officer of Mixhalo.
Verizon 5G Labs co-hosted the event with dot.LA.
"L.A. is at the very intersection of tech media entertainment, and 5G is completely changing the game for all kinds of use cases across the super industry," said Sam Adams, CEO of dot.LA, in his introductory remarks at the event.
Nelson, who works on technology that relies on fast wireless speeds, said 5G has been greatly beneficial in his line of work.
"I tend to think about 5G as an accelerant to degree, right? It does enable quite a bit of features and ways to interact with content and products, but it really does benefit when you tie it to other technologies," said Nelson.
Allison talked about the accessibility of 5G for people with newer phones.
"The first is nationwide 5G and that you know, if you have a 5G phone, it means you get 5G almost anywhere that you can typically get 4G," said Allison.
Laplante lauded Verizon for what the company has been doing outside of being just a mobile carrier and entering the entertainment space.
"Look at the NFL deal that they just struck two or three weeks ago. It's a 10-year deal. They're in all these stadiums, the opportunity and scale, there's like nothing we could achieve with another mobile carrier," said Laplante.
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Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.
Here’s how Jack Rolo describes his childhood: He was good at chess, and bad at spelling. He was good at math, and bad at reading. Rolo went on to study physics at Durham University in his native England—and despite often struggling in his courses, it wasn’t until after he graduated that he was diagnosed with dyslexia, a common language processing disorder that affects reading.
Rolo’s experiences informed his founding of Polygon, a Santa Monica-based diagnostics startup that emerged from stealth on Friday with $4.2 million in funding, and the goal of better diagnosing dyslexia, ADHD and other learning-related disabilities. The funding includes a $3.6 million seed round led by Spark Capital, as well as $600,000 in pre-seed funding led by Pear VC.
“It really is a product I wish I'd had access to at an earlier age myself,” Rolo told dot.LA.
After moving to California to earn his MBA degree at UC Berkeley, Rolo met his co-founder Meryll Dindin, who now serves as Polygon’s chief technology officer. Together, they’ve built a platform that aims to partner with schools to test children for a myriad of disabilities that may affect academic performance. (The startup claims it’s already teamed with schools in California, but did not disclose which.) Rolo says he envisions that these assessments become as ubiquitous as vision and hearing exams: that every student, regardless of age, background or academic performance, will be tested.
As is, testing for disorders like ADHD and dyslexia often depends on parents, teachers or pediatricians observing a child, detecting something amiss and intervening. There are problems with this method; for instance, girls are chronically underdiagnosed with ADHD because it presents itself differently than it does for boys. Teachers juggling crowded classrooms may not be able to perceive why a specific child is falling behind. And Black and Latino children are often overlooked when it comes to diagnosing disabilities.
“Common roots of referral are teachers, and typically that's flagged because they'll see the student failing,” Rolo said. “That's part of the problem—that this then becomes almost a wait-to-fail approach, when ideally you want to pick these things up proactively.”
Polygon employs full-time psychologists who evaluate students through a telehealth platform. After undergoing a range of standardized assessments and interviewing their parents and teachers, a student who is diagnosed will receive an "Individualized Education Program," a schooling curriculum tailored toward their disabilities.
Assessments start at $995, which Polygon says is up to five times cheaper than traditional disability testing alternatives. The company plans on driving that cost down further by collecting a large data sample of assessments and building machine learning technology to “pre-screen” students; those who are flagged would then undergo more extensive testing.
“Ultimately, what we're trying to move toward is a model quite similar to the optician, where everyone gets the evaluation,” Rolo said. “Yes, assessments are still not accessible for all families just yet—but this is the beginning, and we hope to drive this cost down way further over time.”
Polygon said the new funding will go toward expanding beyond California and growing its network nationally.
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Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.
On this episode of Office Hours, host Spencer Rascoff talked with ZipRecruiter CEO and founder Ian Siegel about how he built his company, the lessons he's learned along the way and how he's seen the pandemic drastically reshape the job market—probably for good.
Siegel moved to L.A. to be a writer in Hollywood. But he quickly realized he hated it. Instead, he moved into the fledgling online division at Warner Bros., From there, he found himself working at a series of VC-backed startups that became successful. As a result, he became known in the industry as an expert in taking online businesses that had plateaued and figuring out a way to help them grow. He said he hated every minute of it.
“What you are in that situation is you're an agent of change. And what I learned is you can be good at that, but no one likes you because everybody fears change.”
Instead, Siegel worked up the courage to start his own business.
“Why do I let people pay me such a small amount of money to turn around these businesses?,” he asked himself. “If I'm so good at this, why don't I just start my own and build it right from the very beginning. And that's what ultimately gave me the conviction to go launch ZipRecruiter.”
His time working at young startups too small to have their own HR departments gave Siegel the idea. After posting the same job position across multiple websites and printing out every single resume submitted, he realized he was facing a problem technology is built to solve.
“I just wanted a magic button that I could push. And it would send a job to all job boards at once, and then all the candidates from all those different sites would go into one easy to review list. That's exactly what we built with the first version of ZipRecruiter,” said Siegel.
Over time, ZipRecruiter’s mission has changed, he said, from a company aimed at solving a single pain point to a company trying to reinvent how the labor market functions. That, he added, is orders of magnitude more difficult, because “you are retraining America or potentially the world on a new way to do something.”
“And now you are knife fighting in the jungle, you are trailblazing,” he added. “I don't worry about how anybody in the current ecosystem operates. I'm truly fundamentally trying to change the labor market in the United States right now.”
Siegel said he’s seen the job market drastically change over the past couple years, as the pandemic accelerated the move to remote work and hybrid and remote positions surged. Fewer than 2% of jobs on ZipRecruiter had the words “remote” in them before COVID-19 stuck. Now, 60% of applicants say they’re seeking remote or hybrid work, and 12% of the jobs listed on the site offer a remote option—and that number is growing.
That reality has changed how he runs his own business.
“What I've done at ZipRecruiter is accept change,” Siegel said. “We are fully embracing remote. I believe remote is not only here to stay, it's a huge benefit.”
That, he says, is because employees and employers both save time on driving and grooming. They save money on gas and parking. The office, he added, will still have a purpose, but it will probably be more for building culture, and less for work.
"It'll be a much smaller space entirely designed around fun," he said. "No one will ever go in there every day purely for the purpose of doing their job, probably ever again."
One of the lessons Siegel said he’s learned as a serial entrepreneur is to make sure the work you pick is meaningful to you.
“It turns out every business takes the same amount of time, which is all your time,” he said. “So be thoughtful about how you spend it. Pick work that's meaningful for you. Pick work that has scale opportunity to it and that you're going to be excited to go into every day,”
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Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Samson is also a proud member of the Transgender Journalists Association. Send tips or pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him
Riot Games has invested in virtual shooting range developer Statespace, accelerating the Los Angeles video game publisher’s efforts to dominate the mobile gaming space.
Riot did not disclose terms of the investment but told dot.LA it took a “minority stake” in New York-based Statespace.
Statespace’s main product is a platform called Aim Lab, a free-to-play virtual shooting range that first-person shooter gamers can use to warm up their skills before heading into a competitive match. Statespace CEO Wayne Mackey told the Washington Post that the plan is to leverage its relationship with Riot to bring Aim Lab onto mobile platforms—a transition that he said is “imminent” and could happen as soon as next month.
Riot, in turn, wants to integrate Aim Lab as part of its growing base of titles with hardcore fan bases, like its first-person shooter game “Valorant” or its multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game “League of Legends: Wild Rift.” The idea is that esports players could use Aim Lab to warm up with weapons used in the actual games, and also for a postmortem on a match that they lost by giving them a chance to review footage of their defeat and figure out how to improve, Mackey said.
“We look forward to collaborating with Statespace on developing innovative training and coaching tools for Valorant and MOBA players around the world to improve their skills at every level,” Jake Perlman-Garr, Riot’s global head of corporate development, said in a statement Thursday.
Riot has been doubling down on mobile gaming in recent years. The publisher has released three mobile games in the last two years—including “Wild Rift,” its most popular mobile title—and has invested in mobile gaming companies like Double Loop Games and Bunch. That focus has come as mobile gaming has emerged as one of the industry’s fastest-growing sectors.
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