Hollywood is giving tech start
Japanese technology entrepreneur Ken Fukazawa was in San Francisco in March when his geeky friends told him about something awesome coming up in Los Angeles.
Walt Disney Co. was opening its doors to selected start ups for a summer of intensive mentoring. Fukazawa couldn't think of anything better to help his company grow than the brand that he had fallen in love with as a child. His three person company, Tyffon, moved into Disney offices in June, ready to improve a suite of apps that add spooky animations to photos.
Funding, ideas and workers are flowing into the Southland at record levels real pandora bracelet as thousands of entrepreneurs across a broad range of industries leverage the Internet to reshape how people shop, chat, watch and play.
But over the last three years, Hollywood's embrace of start ups such as Tyffon has become the most powerful magnet attracting technology entrepreneurs to set up in the Southland. In fact, Southern California is now the nation's fastest growing hub for start ups. The entertainment industry, with its mad rush into digital distribution and its reservoirs of cash, creative talent and glamour, is the key driver. and others upended how content makers do business, and now entertainment industry leaders are turning to start ups to help them ride the waves of change.
"Anyone in a traditional business is getting a wake up call," said Michael Yanover, head of business development at talent manager Creative Artists Agency. "You better lean in to the latest technology trend or you're going to be dead in the water."
The tension in Hollywood is driving demand, showering money and fostering confidence in Silicon Beach and other geographical start up centers in the region.
After the crash course at Disney, Fukazawa can no longer imagine moving Tyffon back to Tokyo. Los Angeles' balance of highly skilled programmers and content creators is perfect for Tyffon, which has seen 30 million downloads of its apps in two years.
"Gaming, entertainment, film, agencies it's all here," said Fukazawa, who received advice from Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger and other top brass. "It's best for us to do business here."
Companies focused on online video, virtual reality, crowdfunding, gaming and online marketing or shopping are among those finding Los Angeles attractive because of the access to entertainment, advertising and fashion expertise. region in the first half of 2014, according to data collected from AngelList by Upfront Ventures, the region's most active venture capital buy cheap pandora charms australia firm with more than $100 million invested in the last three years.
Combined, Los Angeles and Orange counties are on pace this year to receive $2.15 billion their most since 2001, according to the National Venture Capital Assn.
Venture capitalists in Los Angeles give their better funded counterparts in Silicon Valley credit for the recent growth. More than $500 million has flowed to Los Angeles from Silicon Valley investors in the last 2 1/2 years, according to Thomson Reuters data provided by the association. was a lot of talk and maybe not a lot of walk, but there's been some real successes lately," said Brent Weinstein, who manages United Talent Agency's start up investment arm.
Content sharing app, for example, has received hundreds of millions of dollars in investment from Silicon Valley hotshots on its way to a reported worth of $10 billion. Auto shopping website TrueCar Inc. had a $70 million initial public offering in May, and its stock has doubled since. Overall, the median value of a Los Angeles start up's acquisition or IPO has reached a post recession record of $87 million so far in 2014 and topped the $75 million San Francisco Bay Area median, according to tracking firm PitchBook.
Speaking at Rand Corp. this month, Chief Executive Evan Spiegel pointed to three Los Angeles advantages: Most hires are new to Los Angeles, so employees exploring the city together creates culture. Distance from Silicon Valley gives a different point of view that he said was "important." Being in the center of arts and entertainment surrounds with "energy," he said.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told The Times recently that it's hard to predict how big Southland tech will become, but that there's reason for optimism with companies like and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. building global brands.
"If you look at the benefit of Caltech and USC and UCLA and the quality of the programs they have, they are producing the people that are needed to produce the local winners," Schmidt said.
The data driven and stock rich Silicon Valley has begun to fuse with Southern California's content fueled, cash hungry culture to build a brand for tech in Los Angeles.
Hollywood's interest in experimenting has led Northern California companies such as Netflix, YouTube, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. to build larger presences in Los Angeles County. And an untold number of app makers pandora jewelry for sale are following suit, finding it essential to be close to the content makers who could be crucial in making their products popular.
The endorsement of technology start ups has flowed deep into the entertainment industry. Shows such as NBC's "The Blacklist" and ABC's "Modern Family" now use a mobile app called Sync OnSet to store photos of props, costumes and sets that production managers had once stashed into three ring binders. As its customer base grew to more than 100 productions, Wymsee Inc. moved some of its staff from Boston to the WeWork shared workspace in Hollywood because this remains "home base for entertainment," co founder Alex LoVerde said.
A few years ago, a Wymsee or Tyffon would have found itself stonewalled in Hollywood. Kevin Yorn, an entertainment attorney whose clients include Ellen DeGeneres and Matthew McConaughey, remembers his firm holding a 2007 gathering of about 40 celebrities, media executives, Silicon Valley venture capitalists and technologists.
Marc Andreessen, a deep pocketed investor from the Silicon Valley, declared that Hollywood had to shape up and give in to what upstarts wanted, Yorn recalled. Miffed, the entertainment industry sat back until its peers in technology realized "people in Hollywood have secret ingredients storytelling and large social bases that can help propel a start up," Yorn said.
Transportation service Uber probably would have ridden to success without ferrying celebrities to red carpet events. And someone other than Jessica Alba may have been able to start lifestyle and cleaning products brand Honest Co. and turn it into a near $1 billion company. But the stars elevated the brands in the minds of consumers and the media and accelerated their progress, according to investors.
It's also possible that if Honest Co. were to go public, it could raise Alba's net worth more than any movie has. The economics of tech have become "real," Yorn said. Entertainers who once spurned offers to advise or advertise start ups are now pleading with managers to let them become investors or launch their own.
One of Yorn's clients, "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker, has worked with several companies experimenting with new ways to distribute content. Zuiker's latest project is with Fanlala, a children focused media start up in Santa Monica. Zuiker, who invested in Fanlala, plans to use the website soon to launch a show that children will be able to interact with like a video game.
"We need to push very safe Hollywood into the gutsy tech space," Zuiker said. "We see the beginnings, and it's very exciting."
Economists and investors point out that start ups in Los Angeles aren't just taking on entertainment related businesses.
Aerospace, finance and health are also popular. Likewise, the new technology investors from Los Angeles' most well known industry say where to get pandora bracelet charms their connections go beyond the stars to major companies, politicians and international audiences.
For CAA, the daily debates on which entrepreneurs deserve the money and guidance that could lift them into stardom are just a reflection of the zeitgeist.
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