Tech roundup: LA Business Journal awards tech companies, ex-Hulu exec launches LA-centric VC and more

November 30, 2017
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Former Hulu exec launches VC fund focused on LA tech startups

Noah Heller, a former Hulu exec who helped spearhead the company’s VR strategy, announced the launch of a brand new venture firm, 3Rodeo. The fund will primarily focus its efforts on locally-grown startups. Heller will be joined by Picasa executive Lars Perkins and RYOT Studio — which was acquired by AOL [now known as Oath] — co-founder Molly DeWolf Swenson. According to TechCrunch, the firm’s investments will be between $250,000 and $500,000. [Variety]

 

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LA Business Journal’s Patrick Soon-Shiong Innovation Awards announced

At a gala hosted recently at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles Business Journal released its winners for the Patrick Soon-Shiong Innovation Awards, bestowing a handful of local tech companies trophies in the name of the prolific LA-based surgeon, entrepreneur and founder of the NantHealth umbrella of companies, all headquartered in LA. Just a few days after one of its co-founders was named to Forbes' annual 30 under 30, Van Nuys-based VNTANA was awarded for its work with augmented reality and advertising tech. Santa Monica-based adtech startup Klickly, founded by actress Cooper Harris after discovering a passion for hackathons, also took home an award. Additional award recipients included drone tech startup AirMap, as well as VR companies ObEN and Jaunt. [LABJ]

 

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LA Cleantech Incubator’s Energize California welcomes its first cohort of clean energy startups

Energize California, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s California Energy Commission-backed initiative to strengthen the clean energy economy in LA County, announced its first cohort of startups recently. In addition to a handful of hardware companies, LA-based Envoy Technologies, which has created an electric vehicle sharing platform aimed at adding mobile car-sharing programs for apartment buildings, offices and hotels. Joining Envoy were PingThings, a grid management technology that uses artificial intelligence to make storage and management of grid information simpler, and Volitant AI, a startup that uses AI to optimize energy systems. [LACI]
 

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Report: 2017’s Cyber Monday the most successful yet

Adobe released its 2017 projection for sales made on Cyber Monday, expecting the day will become the most successful one to date with $6.59 billion in sales. Somewhat surprisingly, it appears that Cyber Monday also eclipsed the much talked about Black Friday ($5.03 billion) by $1.5 billion. [Adobe]
 

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Tuition.io announces new hires, including Washio co-founder and CTO

Tuition.io, a startup that helps businesses offer student loan repayment as a perk for their employees, continued its rapid growth trajectory by adding senior-level hires this week. The new hires for the Santa Monica startup include Mark Irvine as CRO, and in the role of VP of engineering is LA tech veteran Bob Wall, formerly the co-founder and CTO of on-demand laundry startup Washio, which experienced rapid growth before shuttering a year ago. [Press Release]

 

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Bridg adds CTO

LA-based startup Bridg announced the addition of a new CTO this week, bringing former Bizrate Insights Inc. VP of engineering Rony Sawdayi to the position of chief technology officer. Sawdayi will report directly to the company’s CEO, Amit Jain. [Press Release]
 

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Disney Accelerator acts as matchmaker in deal between two alumni companies

Pundit, a sticker technology platform that graduated from the Disney Accelerator in 2015, announced its partnership with Epic Games, a 2017 graduate, to launch an inaugural messaging sticker pack based on the blockbuster Epic Games’ Infinity Blade franchise. Representatives of the two startups became acquainted at an accelerator-sponsored event this past summer, and the rest is history. [Pundit]

 

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Fundings of the week

SpaceX, $100 million

The sun rises in the east, sets in the west and SpaceX raises another giant round of funding. That’s how it goes, right? Based on recent patterns, that is how it would appear. Earlier this week, the Torrance-based company, which was named as the number one employer in LA/OC tech by Built In LA just last month, followed up its $350 million funding in July — at a $21 billion valuation — with $100 million more this month, according to a regulatory filing. [SEC]

HopSkipDrive, $7.4 million

Investors: Student Transportation Inc. (STI), FirstMark Capital, Upfront Ventures, Skyview Capital and Halogen Ventures

Pasadena-based HopSkipDrive, a ridesharing service that delivers kids to wherever they need to be, announced a $7.4 million funding recently. The company said that it plans to use the funding to accelerate growth in new and existing markets.  [LABJ]

ENJOIUS, $1.4 million

ENJOIUS, an online marketplace for personalized event design services, announced a $1.4 million seed round coming from a handful of LA luminaries on Wednesday. Nancy Tellem (Eko Studios, formerly of CBS Network Television Group), Daniel Murray (Dollar Shave Club), Angela Mathes (formerly of ABC Daytime TV) and Kent Wakeford (KSV esports) all contributed to the round, which will be used to invest in product development and marketing. [Enjoius]