Category: Los Angeles

June 11, 2019 Off

Relativity is building a 3D-printing rocket manufacturing hub in Mississippi

By Jill T Frey

The future of rocket manufacturing has touched down in Mississippi.

At NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, nestled in Hancock County, Miss., right on the border of Louisiana, the Los Angeles-based 3D-printed spacecraft manufacturer, Relativity Space, is planning a massive $59 million expansion to make a permanent manufacturing hub in this bucolic corner of the southeast.

“This agreement demonstrates again NASA’s commitment to work with our industry partners to expand commercial access to low Earth orbit,” said Dr. Rick Gilbrech, director, Stennis Space Center. “This helps NASA maintain focus on the ambitious Artemis program that will land the first female and the next male on the south pole of the Moon by 2024.”

Relativity already has four of its proprietary 3D printers running in its Los Angeles headquarters and plans to build out 12 larger units in its new Mississippi digs. The company ultimately expects to get 24 … Read the rest

May 29, 2019 Off

Delane Parnell’s plan to conquer amateur esports

By Jill T Frey

Most of the buzz about esports focuses on high-profile professional teams and audiences watching live streams of those professionals.

What gets ignored is the entire base of amateurs wanting to compete in esports below the professional tier. This is like talking about the NBA and the value of its sponsorships and broadcast rights as if that is the entirety of the basketball market in the US.

Los Angeles-based PlayVS (pronounced “play versus”) wants to become the dominant platform for amateur esports, starting at the high school level. The company raised $46 million last year—its first year operating—with the vision that owning the infrastructure for competitions and expanding it to encompass other social elements of gaming can make it the largest gaming company in the world.

I recently sat down with Founder & CEO Delane Parnell to talk about his company’s formation and growth strategy. Below is the transcript of our … Read the rest

May 25, 2019 Off

Startups Weekly: VCs are drunk on beverage startups

By Jill T Frey

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a newsletter published every Saturday that dives into the week’s most noteworthy venture deals, fundraises, M&A transactions and trends. Let’s take a quick moment to catch up. Last week, I wrote about an alternative to venture capital called revenue-based financing and before that, I jotted down some notes on one of VCs’ favorite spaces: cannabis tech. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to [email protected] or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

This week, I want to share some thoughts — questions, rather — on beverages. Just as my inbox has been full of cannabis-related pitches, it’s also been packed with descriptions of new…drinks. Perhaps the most noted so far is Liquid Death, canned water for the punk rock crowd, because why not? Liquid Death has attracted nearly $2 million in funding from angel investors like Away co-founder Jen Rubio and … Read the rest

May 23, 2019 Off

Using full-body MRIs, Ezra can now detect 11 cancers in men and 13 in women

By Jill T Frey

When Ezra first launched about six months ago, the company was using magnetic resonance imaging machines to test for prostate cancer in men.

But the company’s founder, Emi Gal, always had a larger goal.

“One of the biggest problems in cancer is that there’s no accurate, fast, painless way to scan for cancer anywhere in the body,” Gal said at the time of his company’s debut.

Now he’s several steps closer to a solution. Rather than having to do painful biopsies, which often come with significant side effects, Gal’s software can now be used to slash the cost for a full-body MRI scan designed to screen for 11 different types of cancer in men and another 13 types of cancer in women (who have more organs that are likely to develop cancer).

The scans take about an hour … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

Backed by LG, AmazeVR is hoping to resurrect virtual reality’s consumer dreams

By Jill T Frey

For more than 100 years, entrepreneurs have come to Hollywood to try their luck in the dream factory and build an empire in the business of storytelling.

Propelled by new technologies, new businessmen have been landing in Los Angeles since the invention of the nickelodeon to create a studio that would dominate popular entertainment. Over the past five years, virtual reality was the latest new thing to make or break fortunes, and the founding team behind the Korean company AmazeVR are the latest would-be dream-makers to take their turn spinning the wheel for Hollywood fortunes.

Despite billions of dollars in investment, and a sustained marketing push from some of the biggest names in the technology industry, virtual reality still doesn’t register with most regular consumers.

But technology companies keep pushing it, driven in part by a belief that maybe this time the next advancement in hardware and services will convince … Read the rest

May 20, 2019 Off

Ford CTO Ken Washington at TC Sessions: Mobility on July 10

By Jill T Frey

A conference dedicated to transportation and mobility wouldn’t be complete without hearing from Ford, the U.S. automaker with a storied 116-year history.

We’re excited to announce that Ford CTO Ken Washington will participate in TechCrunch’s inaugural TC Sessions: Mobility, a one-day event on July 10, 2019 in San Jose, Calif., that’s bringing the best and brightest minds — founders, investors and technologists — who are determined to invent a future Henry Ford might never have imagined. Or maybe he did.

If there’s a person at Ford who can provide insight into where the company is headed, it’s Washington.

As CTO and vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering, Washington leads Ford’s worldwide research organization, oversees the development and implementation of the company’s technology strategy and plans and plays a key role in its expansion into emerging mobility opportunities.

Prior to joining Ford, he was vice president of the Advanced … Read the rest

May 17, 2019 Off

As Quibi reportedly seeks another $1 billion, Fiction Riot fills the programming slate for its rival service

By Jill T Frey

Even as Quibi, the short form video platform from Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo, reportedly looks to raise another $1 billion, rival service Fiction Riot continues to steadily build out its pipeline of short form serials.

The Los Angeles-based company has already launched a beta version of its streaming service, Ficto, and yesterday announced a host of new shows that will appear on the app later this year.

Ficto is bringing to market adaptations of bestselling books and original productions which will be released with theatrical films and has plans in the pipeline for other forms of scripted and unscripted entertainment.

On the back end of its service, Fiction Riot is using blockchain-based tools to create a more transparent way to share revenue and manage payments among writers, artists and producers of new series, according to company founder and chief executive Mike Esola.

Meanwhile, Quibi is reportedly looking … Read the rest

April 22, 2019 Off

Blueland launches with a suite of eco-friendly cleaning supplies designed to reduce plastic waste

By Jill T Frey

Sarah Paiji had the idea to launch the eco-friendly refillable cleaning supply retailer Blueland after hearing about the abundance of microplastics in the water she was using to dilute her child’s baby formula.

Paiji wanted to cut back on her plastic consumption, and reduce her contribution to the overabundance of plastic waste in the environment, but felt that as a consumer she didn’t have a choice. So the former venture capital investor from the consumer startup brand studio Launch set out to create one.

The answer she came up with is Blueland, a new line of cleaning products that launches today. Blueland’s cleaners — a bathroom cleaner, glass cleaner, and multi-purpose cleaner —  are sold as tablets that customers add to the cleaning containers the company provides.

“These cleaners are mostly water,” says Paiji. “I’m paying for a plastic bottle that I don’t really need and water which I have … Read the rest