April, 2020

Energica CEO plots her Italian EV company’s reboot from lockdown

TechCrunch LA

There could be more demand for electric vehicles post COVID-19 crisis, believes Energica founder Livia Cevolini. The CEO of the high-performance Italian motorcycle manufacturer offered that point of optimism, as her Modena based EV company remains closed by government decree.

Three questions to answer about your COVID response


Most of us are affected by this current crisis. Many businesses threatened with closure forever. Small businesses are the most vulnerable, even though most have furloughed employees. Rent and other fixed costs continue, even when revenues have dried up – a fatal combination.

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How to Make Sense of the PPP Loan Program for VC-Backed Startups

Both Sides of the Table

There is so much confusion and misinformation out there about the government sponsored “payroll protection plan” loans to companies that the heads of every small business CEO in the country must be spinning.

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Virgin Orbit to Make Ventilators for Covid-19 Patients

L.A. Business Journal

Virgin Orbit will start making a "bridge ventilator" for partially recovered Covid-19 patients at its Long Beach manufacturing facility

10 Keys To Enabling Your Startup For Unicorn Growth

Startup Professionals Musings

Investors will tell you that they love to put money into startups that are scalable, and ready to become the next unicorn. But what does that really mean? Simply stated, it means that your business has the potential to multiply revenue with minimal incremental cost.

How One Co-Working Space is Dealing with the Pandemic


The current Covid-19 pandemic has had an epochal effect on businesses, and even the humble office space has taken a blow, with millions of us now working from home.

An LA-led, public-private partnership pitches a $150B green infrastructure package to Congress

TechCrunch LA

Representatives from the government and the utility managing the power of Los Angeles are proposing a sweeping infrastructure package worth roughly $150 billion centered on the broad electrification of transportation and industry.

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My Thoughts on the Current Market: on 20-Minute VC

Both Sides of the Table

Several years ago I made an appearance in a burgeoning new podcast called “20 Minute VC,” which by now needs no introduction. Harry was gracious enough to invite me back so this past week we recorded an episode discussing the current market environment.

Oil Price Drop Hits Businesses

L.A. Business Journal

The sudden collapse in oil prices has roiled the local oil industry, prompting producers to start shutting down wells, oil well service companies to lay off staff and refineries to reduce operations

10 Stumbling Blocks To Innovative Business Thinking

Startup Professionals Musings

Successful entrepreneurs are the ones who think the most creatively, not only in their initial product or service, but more importantly all through the stages of growth from startup to maturity.

Amazon Quietly Slashes Affiliate Rewards


Amazon has discreetly made massive changes to its affiliate rewards scheme, with huge implications for sites that have come to depend on monetizing this way.

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Electric charging gets more juice as Soros Fund Management makes a bet on Amply Power

TechCrunch LA

Even as oil companies are getting crushed by the collapse of demand for energy in the wake of international shutdowns responding to the global pandemic, investors representing one of the world’s savviest financiers are placing a small bet on electric charging as the future of transportation.

Have you fallen into the buggy whip trap?


Surely, you’ve heard the buggy whip analogy. A business making those necessary items ignored the signs of progress and found itself without a market. Perhaps that happened to sword smiths upon the invention of the rifle, and certainly to the makers of cassette tapes upon the dawn of the CD.

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Hard Decisions Require Empathy

Both Sides of the Table

In the past two weeks we have entered perhaps to most surreal experience in any of our lives. I think intuitively many of us believe it may be a more lasting impact than just “60 days at home,” which is why we almost have a nervous laughter when we call (Zoom!) somebody we haven’t spoken to since before the crisis and acknowledge how bizarre we all feel right now.

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Miso Seeking $30M Round

L.A. Business Journal

Miso Robotics Inc., a Pasadena-based robotics and artificial intelligence company, is seeking to raise a $30 million Series C through crowdfunding on the SeedInvest platform

6 Reasons Why More Is Not Better In Your Next Startup

Startup Professionals Musings

Many passionate entrepreneurs fight to add more features into their new products and services, assuming that more function will make the solution more appealing to more customers. In reality, more features will more likely make the product confusing and less usable to all.

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Wix Announces Half Price Flash Sale


Wix has announced a limited-time half price sale on its website builder plans, with a 50% off deal beginning today and ending on Wednesday. The half price sale is open to new users and anyone currently using Wix's free plan.

Curative received FDA emergency use authorization for its novel COVID-19 tests

TechCrunch LA

The diagnostics startup Curative has received an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its novel test to determine COVID-19 infection.

Especially now: Play nice!


To survive this nasty Covid 19 surge facing businesses of all types, leaders must make decisions that hurt but are necessary. Keep the employees for the SBA PPP requirements regarding loan forgiveness, or furlough or let good employees go, so they can file unemployment claims?

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Elon Musk Goes Off Rails On Earnings Call


Elon Musk , the founder of Hawthorne-based SpaceX , in addition to Tesla , appeared to go off script and off the rails on the Tesla earnings call on Wednesday. Musk--while answering questions about when Tesla might resume production in the Bay Area--suddenly called the Bay Area's "shelter in place" order "fascist" and said that is "not why people came to America or pulled this country--what the f**k?".

Riot Games Acquires Hypixel Studios

L.A. Business Journal

Riot Games acquires Canadian video game developer Hypixel Studios

6 Habits to Become a More Empathetic Business Leader

Startup Professionals Musings

In my experience as a business and entrepreneur advisor over many years, I’m convinced that the days of the “ command and control ” business leader are gone. Your employees have higher expectations of you than just defining their job – they want inspiration, motivation, and purpose.

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AlchemyLeads Helps Businesses Increase Both Traffic And Web Conversions


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) increases both the quantity and quality of traffic to a website. It provides businesses with the visibility they need to attract customers.

Manufacturing startup Divergent 3D reduces staff by one-third

TechCrunch LA

Divergent, the Los Angeles-based startup aiming to revolutionize vehicle manufacturing, has cut about one-third of its staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has upended startups and major corporations alike.

Cash control during these strange times


And these are indeed strange times, especially if you haven’t lived through 2000-2002 and 2007-2008 recessions and difficulty in finding money from banks and investors. The simple economic truth. Here is a simple economic truth. Fixed overhead continues to eat into your cash month after month.

HyperX Adds Fortnite Streamer As Brand Ambassador


Fountain Valley-based HyperX is jumping into the world of Fortnite, saying this morning that it has signed up Fortnited streamer Soleil "Ewok" Wheeler as one of its brand ambassadors. According to HyperX, Ewok will use HyperX gaming keyboards, mice, mousepads, SSDs, and memory modules while streaming as part of the sponsorship deal. Other details on financial arrangements for the sponsorship were not announced.


Pray.com Answers Call for the Digital Faithful

L.A. Business Journal

Pray is among a fortunate handful of companies whose businesses have actually benefited from the statewide shutdown. The platform's monthly active users grew 50% from February to March

10 Keys To Results With Social-Local-Mobile Marketing

Startup Professionals Musings

The world of marketing is changing faster than technology these days. Winning entrepreneurs have long since supplemented conventional print and video “push” marketing with digital online interactive “pull” marketing, and a while back added social-local-mobile ( SoLoMo ) to the mix.

Flagship Adds $1.1B for New Meds, More AI, & “Health Security”


Flagship Pioneering founder and CEO Noubar Afeyan didn’t know a global pandemic was in the cards for 2020 when he and his team laid out three new thematic areas of focus for the company last fall.

GM exits car-sharing business and shuts down Maven

TechCrunch LA

GM’s experiment with car sharing is over. The automaker Tuesday said its Maven car-sharing service, which launched in 2016, will shut down for good. Maven had paused service due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

App development shop V/One is giving away 50,000 free mobile app builds to budding LA mobile businesses

TechCrunch VR

The Los Angeles-based app development shop, V/One , is giving away 50,000 free mobile app builds through the rest of April as the company officially launches its platform for would-be, LA-based mobile app moguls.

Q-CTRL Connects With Investment From In-Q-Tel


Los Angeles-based Q-CTRL , a company that is developing quantum computing and control technology, has received a strategic investment from In-Q-Tel (IQT), the investment arm of the U.S. intelligence community. Size of the funding was not announced. According to Q-CTRL, the new funding will go towards accelerating quantum technology for national security applications. Size of the funding was not announced.

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Snap Planning $750 Million Offering

L.A. Business Journal

Snap Inc. announced a $750 million debt offering the day after reporting a jump in first-quarter earnings and daily active users

5 Keys to Results in the Current Marketing Revolution

Startup Professionals Musings

Most small businesses I advise still rely on traditional advertising models, assuming they can create enough media “noise” to get customers attention and sway them.

Why 2020 Is Pivotal for Microbiome Drug R&D (Or Maybe 2021, Given COVID-19)


The start of a potentially big biomedical breakthrough is blooming within all of us. Drug research aiming to turn bacteria into microbiome therapies now spans programs aiming to address gut disorders, autism, cancer, and more.

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Los Angeles-based Frame launches mental health gateway for a pandemic-stricken generation

TechCrunch LA

The story behind Frame, the startup aiming to be the nation’s gateway into the world of therapy and mental wellness, seems like a tailor-made story of American entrepreneurial success.

Top 3 Government Network Security Setups

Southern California Edison Blog

Network speeds are closely tied to an organization’s ability to stay productive and remain competitive and profitable at all times.