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Startups Weekly: VCs are drunk on beverage startups

TechCrunch LA

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.

What’s your story? Did someone else create it?


It is an old warning in the entertainment industry. Define your persona the way you want others to view you – before someone else defines you by comparing you to someone not as flattering as you would like. Sometimes you win when others define your story.

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Announcing Projector?—?A Startup I’ve Been Excited to Tell You About for Years

Both Sides of the Table

Announcing Projector?—?A A Startup I’ve Been Excited to Tell You About for Years A few years ago I spent time in prison with Trevor O’Brien , the founder of Projector. Yes, I always imagined announcing the company that way.

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Interview with David Wood, Eventene


For our interview this morning, we talked with David Wood , the Founder and CEO of Eventene (, an early stage startup, bootstrapped startup developing event management software. David--a veteran of Microsoft, having been the lead developer of Microsoft Exchange--tells us why he started his company. What does Eventene do? David Wood: We make event planning software for social organizations.

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Second US Gene Therapy, Approved for Rare Muscle Disease, to Cost $2M


The FDA today has made Zolgensma, a Novartis treatment for the rare genetic disease spinal muscular atrophy, the second approved gene therapy in the US. The news marks a milestone for SMA patients, who have only one other approved medicine available.

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

TechCrunch LA

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.

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Managing Your Startup Board?—?A Short Presentation

Both Sides of the Table

Managing Your Startup Board?—?A A Short Presentation I was invited to do a keynote presentation at the Khosla Ventures CEO Summit this week in Sausalito.

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Video interview with Alonso Vargas, Runtriz


How do small hotel chains and boutique hotels keep up with all the advancements going on in technology? Los Angeles-based Runtriz ( has developed mobile software which helps those hotels keep up with the giants in the market.

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Sebastian Thrun and Udacity Launch New Self-Driving Nanodegree


Sebastian Thrun first made his mark on autonomous vehicle development at the dawn of that industry, when he led a Stanford team whose robot car Stanley won the $2 million DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005 by racing driverless through the Mojave Desert for 132 miles.

Fika Ventures raises $76M to fund the growing LA tech ecosystem

TechCrunch LA

The Los Angeles ecosystem is $76 million stronger today as Fika Ventures , a seed-stage venture capital firm, announces its sophomore investment fund.

Preccelerator Workshop: Startup Leadership and Culture 101 with Janine Davis

SoCal Tech Calendar

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 --.

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

TechCrunch LA

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.

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

TechCrunch LA

For over 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.

Boring Co. Selected For Las Vegas Tunnel


Los Angeles-based Boring Co. , the tunnel-and-transportation startup led by tech billionaire Elon Musk, has been selected to build a small transportation system using Boring Co.'s s technology, which will span the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) announced the selection of The Boring Company on Wednesday, saying it hopes to have the tunnel built and transportation system running by the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2021.

Semtech Joins Smart Home Group


Camarillo-based semiconductor maker Semtech has just joined an organization focused on advancing "smart home" technology, as it looks to push its low powered wireless technology (LoRa) into the smart home market. According to Semtech, it has joined the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) , an international non-profit industry association for the advancement of smart home and building technologies.

Viasat Wins USAF Contract


Carlsbad-based Viasat , which develops satellites communications equipment, reported a win this week with the U.S. Air Force. According to Viasat, it has been contracted to deliver a "Link 16" capable Low Earth Orbit (LEO) spacecraft for the USAF, which will be used to prototype and test space-based Link 16 capabilities. Link 16 is being used by the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Special Operations forces for communications.

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XPRIZE Foundation Dangles $25,000 For Referrals


Los Angeles-based XPRIZE , the organization which launches prize-based competitions to spur the development of advancements in technology, says it is trying something new in its prize efforts--a new, $25,000 prize open to any individual who refers someone who ultimately goes on to win a grand prize in an XPRIZE competition. According to the foundation, its new "Find a Winner" program is open to the public.

BiasSync Launches Tool for Unconscious Bias Assessment


A new, Los Angeles-based startup, BiasSync , has launched a tool aimed at helping corporations and government agencies measure unconscious bias in the workplace, in an attempt to help foster a "more fair and respectful workplace". According to BiasSync, the company was co-founded by former broadcast journalist and entrepreneur Michele Ruiz, former Tinder VP of Technology Dan Gould, and serial tech entrepreneur Robin Richards.

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Sotera Wireless Names COO


San Diego-based Sotera Wireless , which develops vital signs monitoring products for the healthcare industry, has named Younes Achkire, PhD, as its new Chief Operating Officer (COO). Achkire was most recently Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Foxconn Health Technology Business Group, and also was co-founder, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Zap Surgical Systems.

Locana Finds $55M For Gene Therapy


San Diego-based Locana , a developer of RNA-targeting gene therapy technology, announced Wednesday morning that it has raised $55M in a Series A funding round. The funding was led by ARCH Venture Partners, and also included Temasek and Lightstone Ventures, along with new investors UCB Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures).

Precellerator Opens Up Applications For New Class


The Precellerator , the Santa Monica-based startup incubation and accelerator effort with ties to local technology law firm Stubbs, Alderton, and Markiles LLP, has opened up applications for its next class of startups, the accelerator said on Tuesday. According to the Precellerator, deadlines for applications for its next class, the 13th class, is July 15th. The new class starts on September 3rd.

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DTS Gets Win In ASUS ZenFone 6


Calabasas-based DTS , which is a subsidiary of Xperi Corporation, reported a design win, in the new ASUS ZenFone 6 Android smartphone. According to DTS, its DTS:X Ultra audio technology has been incorporated into the new Android smartphone, offering up an immersive audio experience for music, movies, and gaming. The DTS audio technology provides 5:1 and 7:1 multi-channel audio, shaping those sounds to create an immersive audio experience.

KB Home Goes High Tech At New Irvine Development


New home developer KB Home says it is offering a huge set of new, smart home and "personal wellness" technology at a new development in Irvine. According to KB Home, homebuyers as its new development, Genoa at Orchard Hills in Irvine will be able to select from a menu of smart home and personal wellness technologies, which it is showcasing at a concept home called the KB Home ProjeKt: Where Tomorrow Lives.

Virgin Hyperloop One Raises $172.2M


Los Angeles-based Virgin Hyperloop One , the developer of futuristic transportation technology, has raised $172.2M in a funding round, part of an ongoing $224.7M funding, according to a regulatory filing by the firm. Details on the funding have not yet been announced by the company. According to the filing, the funding included 80 investors, and it received the first funds in this new round on April 29th.

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Veritone Names New Board Member


Costa Mesa-based artificial intelligence software developer Veritone said on Thursday afternoon that it has named a new member to its board of directors. Veritone said that Richard H. Rick) Taketa has joined its board, replacing Nate Checketts, the CEO of Rhone Apparel.

Esri Signs Customer In Qatar


Redlands-based geographical information systems (GIS) developer Esri has signed up a new customer in Qatar, the company reported this week, with the The Centre for Geographic Information Systems (CGIS) - Ministry of Municipality & Environment, Qatar. According to Esri, the Qatar Centre is updating its national data capture and mapping technologies, and will use Esri to enhance its national mapping capabilities. Financial impact of the customer win was not announced. READ MORE>>.

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SpaceX Successfully Delivers 60 Starlink Satellites Into Orbit


Hawthorne-based SpaceX successfully delivered 60, Starlink communications satellites into orbit last night, the first of what is planned to be thousands of low earth orbit satellites designed to provide Internet communications anywhere in the world. SpaceX launched its satellites into space from Cape Canaveral, and also succesfully landed the Falcon 9 on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship.

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Report: Snapchat Employees Abused Tool To Spy On Users


Employees of Venice-based Snap , the parent company of Snapchat , have been abusing access to a tool--SnapLion--that allows them to retrieve user data, including saved Snaps, location information, phone numbers, and email addresses, according to a report. The report--from Vice's Motherboard--claims that Snapchat employees have abused that data access to spy on users. READ MORE>>. snap snapchat spying snaplion cybersecurity security privacy

PeerStreet Names New VP


Los Angeles-based PeerStreet , which runs a marketplace for investing in real estate backed loans, says that it has named Deepa Salastekar as its Vice President of Institutional Sales. According to PeerStreet, Salastekar will lead the strategy and communications for the growing number of financial institutions seeking to invest in fractional or whole loans on PeerStreet.

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Riot Games Creates College, High School Sports Body


Los Angeles-based videogame publisher Riot Games has created a brand new organization to govern college esports, called the Riot Scholastic Association of America (RSAA). According to Riot Games, the new organization will be the governing body for Riot's college and high school esports activity. Riot said the new organization will have a board of advisors that includes Mark Deppe, the Director of Esports, University of California, Irvine and Commissioner, NASEF; A.J.