March, 2020

Private tech companies mobilize to address shortages for medical supplies, masks and sanitizer

TechCrunch LA

Startups across the nation and around the world are looking for ways to relieve shortages of much-needed personal protective equipment and sanitizers used to halt the spread of COVID-19. While some of the largest privately held technology companies, like SpaceX and Tesla , have shifted to manufacturing ventilators, smaller companies are also trying to pitch in and relieve scarcity locally.

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Funding in the Time of Coronavirus

Both Sides of the Table

I am due to speak at the SaaStr conference next week: Wednesday, March 11th at 10:45 AM. I had originally signed up to talk about the “VC Market Trends” overall but it seemed inauthentic to speak about VC funding without addressing the virus in the room. So I wrote a brand new deck outlining some Upfront views on what we may see in the funding markets ahead.


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Could you be your company’s bottleneck?


So many tasks; so little time. As a manager, you have a number of critical tasks that are general to your position as opposed to specific to your industry. These include ensuring the continued health of the organization, setting the moral compass for your stakeholders, providing for succession by training and documenting, leading the effort in compliance of regulations and safety needs, and … elimination of all possible bottlenecks that impede the efficiency of your organization.

LA’s Electric Vehicle Talent Pool Is Driving Industry Changes

L.A. Business Journal

Southern California’s demand for electric vehicle industry skilled workers will continue to grow, further pushing up salaries and filling local training classrooms, according to a new report

Can You Ask for Office Rent Relief? How to Manage Your Lease During COVID-19

Office leases are one of companies’ largest expenses, and if your whole team is working from home with no clear end in sight, you may be wondering what to do about your lease.

Feet First Entertainment Launches New Virtual Event For Remote Employees


Culver City-based Feet First Events , which runs corporate team building events, says it has launched a new "virtual game" aimed at helping businesses adapt their teams to working remotely. According to the company--which normally runs in-person, corporate team building events--its new "Cyber Sleuths" virtual game uses video and web-conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Team, Google Hangouts learn the tools to succeed working remotely for the first time.

8 Business Realities You Only Learn From Experience

Startup Professionals Musings

Every new entrepreneur who has not spent years in corporate life has the advantage of an unbiased look at business opportunities, but at the same time has the disadvantage of missing critical business experiences that can cost them dearly in their first startup venture. In my experience, building a successful business is more difficult than building an innovative solution.

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Best Tips for Working from Home Effectively


The coronavirus outbreak has many businesses urgently considering their work-from-home policies. If you're soon likely to be logging on from your living room, there are some best practices for working from home that will keep your tasks efficient and your business secure. Working from home has become standard for many professionals in recent years.

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Do you even know what questions to ask?


Great executives and managers seem to intuitively know what they don’t know. But it is not at all uncommon to not even know what questions to ask. Who would have thought about COVID 19 and public’s panic responses? Image credit: Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay. One week we all thought we had our responses dedicated to supply chain disruptions. By the next week it was protecting our associates and employees.

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Safe at Home

L.A. Business Journal

Ring is one of the most recognized brands and most widely used technologies in a smart-home market that’s expected to total $101.1 billion in 2020

Interview with David A. Smith, Croquet


For today's interview, with talked with David A. Smith , the founder of Croquet (, a new Los Angeles startup which actually has its roots at the very beginning of the modern computing era. Croquet is developing software for collaborative applications, which has applications in virtual worlds and augmented and virtual reality.

7 Ways To Hire Your Way To Failure In A New Venture

Startup Professionals Musings

Business success is all about having the best team, yet the average entrepreneur has little prior experience with hiring people and building top-notch teams. It’s no wonder that 45 percent of startups fail in the first five years, and an even smaller percentage ever see a return for their years of effort. Most new entrepreneurs assume their passion will attract and motivate the right team members. In reality, motivation and passion are necessary but not sufficient to build a business.

NASA moves forward with 17 companies as part of bid to transform urban aerial transportation

TechCrunch LA

NASA and a clutch of startup and established companies are moving forward with plans to transform mobility in urban environments through the Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge. If it’s fully implemented, the new Urban Air Mobility system could enable air transit for things like package delivery, taxi services, expanded air medical services, and cargo delivery to underserved or rural communities, the Agency said in a statement.

Digital Summit LA

SoCal Tech Calendar

Monday, March 23, 2020 -- Digital Summit LA. Come experience the most impactful offering of digital marketing tips, strategies, and best practices, while networking with over 1000+ marketing professionals just like you! See [link] (more

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Remember the FAIRNESS doctrine


Reduce the emotion; reduce the threat of lawsuit. You’ve certainly experienced the angry outburst from an associate or employee who has just learned of an event that the person took as “unfair,” no matter how rational the explanation by the decision maker. Most emotional responses to decisions in business are generated not because the person making the response feels the decision was unwise, but rather unfair. Part of the cultural fabric of your business.

Burke to Remain CEO at AECOM

L.A. Business Journal

Michael Burke, who had been expected to step down as chief executive at Century City-based engineering company AECOM at the end of March, will remain at the helm of the company for the foreseeable future

Virgin Orbit Develops Ventilator For Pandemic Response


Long Beach-based space launch company Virgin Orbit has temporarily shifted its attention from developing rockets and its satellite launch systems, and applied its engineering skills to developing a new ventilator, designed to help in the battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

8 Keys To Scaling The Business After Initial Traction

Startup Professionals Musings

A common pain of startups after an exhilarating first surge of early adopters is a long and frustrating plateau of slow growth, where it seems like nothing you do will get your business to profitability. Too many entrepreneurs don’t know what to do at this point, largely accounting for that disappointing 50 percent of startups that fail in the first five years, according to Gallup.

Uber Eats waives delivery fees for independent restaurants during COVID-19 pandemic

TechCrunch LA

Uber Eats said Monday it will waive delivery fees for all orders from independently owned restaurants on the app as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and causes cities to shutter all non-essential businesses. Restaurants throughout the U.S. are facing economic headwinds as city and state officials take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 , a disease caused by novel coronavirus.

UC San Diego Health Develops COVID-19 Test, Begins Testing Patients


The UC San Diego Health System has developed a diagnostic test that can determine whether a patient has contracted the novel coronavirus in about eight hours. Developed under guidance that the FDA published roughly two weeks ago amid the severe shortage of tests for the viral illness, COVID-19, UCSD Health developed and validated an in-house test in nine days, , according to an emailed statement distributed late Friday.

Reduce five risks: Increase your valuation


Why five risks? In the creation of a young company, there are five principal risks to be addressed by the entrepreneur. Professional investors will probe these five risk areas and make the decision to invest based upon comfort with each. So, it is important for the entrepreneur to identify, address and mitigate each of these in order to increase valuation and decrease the risk of ultimate loss of the business. First: Product risk. .

Saucey Reports a Spike in Demand

L.A. Business Journal

For Saucey Inc. Chief Executive Chris Vaughn, the signs pointing to a spike in demand for the company's alcohol delivery app came well ahead of the stay-at-home order

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HyperX Rolls Out New Mechanical Gaming Keyboards


Fountain Valley-based HyperX , the gaming division of Kingston Technology , says it has released two new gaming keyboards, the HyperX Alloy Origins and Alloy Origins Core keyboards. According to the company, the new mechanical keyboards feature a new switch, the "HyperX Aqua". The keyboards also include RGB exposed backlit keys, which are popular with gamers. HyperX said that the HyperX Allows Origin has an MSRP of $109.99, and the Alloy Origins Core an MSRP of $89.99. READ MORE>>.

10 Personal Attributes That Indicate Real Potential

Startup Professionals Musings

As a startup advisor and investor, I’ve met many aspiring entrepreneurs, and I often get asked the question, “I have a great idea for a startup – do you agree that it real potential?” They don’t know that most experts agree the person is more important than the idea, yet I’ve never been asked, “I have a great idea for a startup – do you agree that I have real potential as an entrepreneur?”

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Grindr sold by Chinese owner after US raised national security concerns

TechCrunch LA

Chinese gaming giant Beijing Kunlun has agreed to sell popular gay dating app Grindr for about $608 million, ending a tumultuous four years under Chinese ownership. Reuters reports that the Chinese company sold its 98% stake in Grindr to a U.S.-based based company, San Vicente Acquisition Partners. The app, originally developed in Los Angeles, raised national security concerns after it was acquired by Beijing Kunlun in 2016 for $93 million. That ownership was later scrutinized by a U.S.

Top 3 Government Network Security Setups

Southern California Edison Blog

Government agencies send sensitive data via their networks on a daily basis to perform tasks including conducting surveillance, transferring military communications, and providing municipal broadband. The wrong network setup can spell disaster in the event of a malicious attack or data leak. Government organizations require reliable networks to prevent downtimes which can have lasting impacts on jobs, citizens, and the economy.

How San Diego Biotech Leaders Are Adapting to Coronavirus Concerns


Three hundred Takeda employees from the Japanese pharma giant’s California research center have been working from home for 10 days straight. Neurocrine Biosciences, one of the few commercial-stage biotechs in town, is working to ensure the animals housed in its vivarium are appropriately minded. Ciara Kennedy, CEO of clinical-stage antifungal therapy developer Amplyx, is facing a slowdown in trial enrollment as hospitals focus on handling the influx of pandemic patients.

RCT Studio Raises $10 Million

L.A. Business Journal

RCT Studio, a Burbank-based developer of interactive games, announced it has raised $10 million in Series A funding

AristaMD Finds $18M In Series B Funding


San Diego-based AristaMD , a developer of telehealth software, which allows primary care providers to conduct and document electronic medical consultations, has raised $18M in a Series B funding round. The funding was led by Cigna Ventures and MemorialCare Innovation Fund (MCIF), and also included Avalon Ventures, CU Healthcare Innovation Fund and Stanford Health Care. The company said the funding will go to towards accelerating expansion of its platform across the country.

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7 Ways To Maximize Team Motivation And Productivity

Startup Professionals Musings

I was shocked to read an old Gallup study that indicates only 13 percent of employees worldwide are actively engaged at work, and more recent data shows only a small change in the right direction. In my own experience as a startup advisor and mentor, I find that entrepreneurs who can’t attract and maintain a highly motivated team rarely even get off the ground.

Bird launches Scoot Mopeds in Austin ahead of SXSW

TechCrunch LA

The Scoot Moped — an electric moped born out of Bird’s acquisition of Scoot — will launch in Austin five months after unveiling the shared micromobility vehicle. The new moped is the latest effort by Bird to diversify its product offerings to capture more customers.

Monzo: What do you need to know?


In June 2019, banking start-up Monzo announced its plans to launch in the US. The UK finance company has garnered a lot of attention, both online and in real life, thanks to its distinctive coral-colored cards, and its intention to make the banking process easier. But what is Monzo, exactly? And what do its plans to grow its offering in the US look like, and potentially mean, for US consumers? What is Monzo?

Roche Trial of Ionis Huntington’s Disease Drug Halted After Side Effects


A 20-patient Phase 1 study of an RNA drug discovered by Ionis Pharmaceuticals that is being tested as a treatment for Huntington’s disease by Roche was suspended after two reports of infections related to a device used to take samples of cerebral spinal fluid during the trial. The suspension doesn’t appear to be related to the drug, tominersen, and no other trials of the investigational treatment were impacted—including an ongoing global Phase 3 study due to read out in 2022.

VR Firm Raises $15M to Add Content

L.A. Business Journal

Culver City-based virtual reality company Talespin announced $15 million in series B funding led by Cornerstone OnDemand Inc., a provider of cloud-based learning software

Robin Games Gets $7M In Seed Funding For Women's Games


Venice, California-based Robin Games , a startup that is developing mobile games aimed at women, has raised $7M in a seed funding round, the company said on Thursday. The funding was led by LVP, and also included 1Up Ventures, Alpha Edison, Everblue Management, firstminute Capital, Greycroft Tracker Fund, Hearst Ventures and Third Kind Venture Capital. The startup, led by Jill Wilson, says it is developing "lifestyle gaming" titles, which run on such platforms as Apple's iOS and Google Android.

5 Steps To Get You From Your First Idea To A Business

Startup Professionals Musings

One thing I have learned the hard way in business is that implementing new ideas is usually much more difficult than conceiving the idea in the first place. That’s why I caution my aspiring entrepreneur clients against proclaiming to investors that they are a great “idea” person. The bridge from thinking and talking, to doing, is a long and difficult one for many to get over. For example, I have a friend with a Ph.D.

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500 Startups moves to rolling admissions instead of cohorts

TechCrunch LA

500 Startups is scrapping its cohort model for accelerating companies and moving to a rolling admissions process, the accelerator said during its latest demo day. One of the progenitors of the accelerator model in the US along with Techstars and Y Combinator , 500 has been a cornerstone of the early-stage company building platform.