LA Tech Updates: Triller Threatens Legal Action; XSET Gaming Partners with GHOST

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

LA Tech Updates: Triller Threatens Legal Action; XSET Gaming Partners with GHOST
Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Here are the latest updates on news affecting Los Angeles' startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for more.

Today:

  • Triller Threatens Legal Action Over Metrics Estimates
  • XSET Gaming Crew Gets Its First Partnership Deal

    Triller Threatens Legal Action Over Metrics Estimates

    The Case for Triller: The TikTok Competitor Approaching Unicorn Status, And Getting Big Breaks

    TikTok competitor Triller has threatened to sue an analytics firm over its report that suggests Triller inflated its app-download figures.

    As the Chinese-owned TikTok faces a ban, Triller has positioned itself as the company's successor. Earlier this month the company issued a statement boasting it had been downloaded 250 million times and seen a 20x increase in the last week of July. But Apptopia pegged the number of downloads to 52 million. Sensor Tower, another third-party analytics firm, estimated 45.6 million.

    "We would have welcomed Apptopia with open arms had they just reached out to us, and helped them understand our numbers, and now they have just made themselves part of our TikTok litigation," Triller chief executive Mike Lu wrote to TechCrunch. "We will be pursuing a claim against them for spreading harmful, false and knowingly damaging information."

    Lu is referring to Triller's recently filed lawsuit against TikTok parent company ByteDance, claiming that the Chinese firm infringed on Triller's patent for syncing music and video.

    He went on to say that Apptopia, "clearly have allowed themselves to become a pawn of these giant conglomerates, especially those like TikTok."

    Triller executive chairman Bobby Sarnevesht told dot.LA late last month that tailwinds have inspired the company to pursue a $250 million fundraising round that would value Triller at $1.25 billion. India's ban on TikTok has helped boost Triller's performance in that country, Sarnevesht said.

    Influencers have reportedly been increasingly migrating from TikTok in the wake of President Trump's executive order that would effectively ban the app in the U.S. The president has created a Triller account of his own.

    XSET Gaming Crew Gets Its First Partnership Deal

    A month after FaZe Clan executives left to launch their own esports company, Boston-based XSET, they sealed their first large partnership with lifestyle nutrition brand GHOST.

    The two-year deal gives XSET's roster of streamers, gamers and celebrities access to beverages, supplements and protein. GHOST will also provide sponsorship of XSET's jerseys and esports events, and will develop branded products ranging from limited-edition beverage flavors to original content.

    XSET's CEO Greg Selkoe is trying to build a brand more inclusive and diverse than FaZe and its Southern California peers just as the nation is grappling with racial inequities. The company purposely went to the East Coast and its partnership with Chicago-based GHOST is reminiscent of FaZe Clan's business blueprint of building on top esports with merchandise, brand sponsorships and content development. That strategy has helped FaZe garner a $250 million valuation and 215 million social media followers.

    The deal comes after an earlier score for XSET, when the company signed 14-year-old female professional skateboarder Minna Stess. At the time, XSET co-founder and chief operating officer Marco Mereu described the move as "the embodiment of the kind of talent we want."

    Mereu's three other co-founders are chief executive Greg Selkoe, chief of merchandising and licensing Wil Eddins, and chief business development officer Clinton Sparks. Those three all previously worked at FaZe Clan, where they respectively served as President, VP of Apparel and VP of Business Development.

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    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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