Virtual Reality
The latest news about virtual reality and VR startups in Southern California from dot.LA.

A combination of Zoom, Minecraft, Twitch and Wordpress with the spirit of Burning Man. That's how Daniel Liebeskind describes Topia, the browser-based social world-building platform he built to bring genuine interactivity to virtual conferences and events.

On Wednesday, his West Hollywood-based startup announced it's raised $5 million in seed investment, led by Seven Seven Six, the venture fund led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Bonfire Ventures also participated in the round.

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Once the home of Frank Sinatra's vinyl recordings, Warner Music Group has ventured into the virtual entertainment world. The company announced it will partner with a virtual concert provider and invest in a tech company that plans to develop avatars and create NFTs for the label's artists.

Monday's announcement that Warner will enter into a content and investment partnership with Los Angeles-based Wave followed a similar announcement Friday that the venerable music label will partner with Genies, a tech company that will help develop a virtual presence for Warner artists and NFTs for their artwork and music.

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  • L.A.-based Genies is expanding beyond creating and managing avatars for celebrities; consumers can now create their own avatars on partner platforms that use Genies' software development kit.
  • Initial partners are Gucci and Giphy, with more expected in the coming months.
  • Genies' pivot is an effort to capitalize on the 'digital goods economy' and the ascendance of the metaverse.

Justin Bieber made Crocs cool again earlier this month, when he partnered with the footwear company, known more for function than fashion, to release a limited edition pair that reportedly sold out in 90 minutes.

Imagine now that those shoes were meant to be worn not on human feet, but on the pixels of a consumer's digital avatar.

This is the vision of L.A.-based Genies, which announced Tuesday it is now integrating its avatar-creation technology into other companies' digital platforms via an updated software development kit (SDK).

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