August 19, 2022
Photoillustration: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol; New Line/WireImage
Good morning! LA showed off its tech chops this week, and we were there chatting with founders and investors to give you an inside look. And speaking of Hollywood, Embracer Group just bought the rights to “Lord of the Rings," but the reality is a little more complicated than it first sounds.
After a week of wandering the streets of LA’s Westside, chatting up founders and investors at bars, house parties and beaches, it became clear to me that Los Angeles is a tech hub like no other.
Business comes after the party in LA. Unlike other industry meetups, people at LA Tech Week seemed to mingle first, do business second.
The FOMO is also very real. If you weren’t on the list, you were likely turned away at the door.
But LA tech is about more than Hollywood moments. While investors and founders said that LA has long been a hub for consumer-facing businesses, influenced by the city’s red carpet roots, that's beginning to change.
And there’s a wealth of young talent there. As the city’s tech scene grows, grads from top universities like Caltech, USC and UCLA are sticking around instead of departing for Silicon Valley, said Eva Ho, the co-founder and a managing partner at Fika Ventures.
Anyway, if you find yourself with an invitation to next year’s Tech Week, I have some advice: Make sure you pack your yoga clothes. And because it’s Los Angeles, your sharpest outfits, too.
— Nat Rubio-Licht
Swedish gaming giant Embracer Group has entered the complex licensing web of “The Lord of the Rings,” and the firm’s landmark deal has further complicated the already messy media empire surrounding J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic.
Embracer purchased Middle-earth Enterprises, the name of a holding company belonging to production firm The Saul Zaentz Company, which purchased film and other media rights to LOTR back in 1976.
So who owns “The Lord of the Rings”? The answer is … a lot of different companies, with different media licensing rights being shared or sold among the various parties and even sometimes aggressively litigated over.
But Embracer now has a lot of opportunities. “Rings of Power'' is just one example of the kind of big-budget media product the gaming giant can now help produce.
— Nick Statt
DataRobot's AI Cloud for Financial Services Unlocks the Art of the Possible: DataRobot continues to attract clients in financial services who want to de-risk their AI investments and rapidly scale AI to almost every part of their operations, resulting in improved productivity and higher customer satisfaction.
General Motors’ Kristen Siemen said the company is making big strides in EV charging:
Google employees wrote a letter to management asking for equal access to abortion benefits:
Irana Wasti and Sofya Pogreb joined Bill.comas CPO and COO, respectively. Wasti recently worked at Typeform, and Pogreb's from NEXT Insurance.
Steve Park is leaving Meta for Roblox, where he'll serve as the first Asia-Pacific head of public policy. Park was Meta's government relations head for South Korea and Japan for years.
Sue Quackenbush and Nicole Fitzpatrick joined Dynatrace as chief people officer and general counsel, respectively. Quackenbush is from Vonage, and Fitzpatrick is from Akamai.
Victoria Godfrey is Indigo’s new CMO. Godfrey was most recently the SVP at DentaQuest.
Darcie Henry is Flexport’s first CHRO. Henry was previously at Snap and worked for over two decades at Amazon before that.
Jason Holmes and Amy Kilpatrick joined Contentful as president of revenue and field operations and CMO, respectively. Holmes is from Showpad, and Kilpatrick’s a former Mailchimp leader.
Why wasn't tech more concerned about the corporate minimum tax rate in the Inflation Reduction Act? The deal may have come together so fast that companies didn't have time to react.
Dan Price's public persona hid his abuse and hostility that dozens of people described to The New York Times. The now-former CEO of Gravity Payments used social media to keep his image intact, while he used that notoriety to pursue women who said he hurt them emotionally and physically, NYT reported.
Qualcomm may be getting back into the server chip game. The company’s reportedly building a new server chip within its Nuvia unit and talking with AWS as a potential client.
Crypto.com quietly laid off hundreds more employees after initially laying off 260, sources told The Verge, but CEO Kris Marsalek won’t tell workers the exact number.
Nintendo is looking into claims of sexual harassment against female contractors, which were brought to light in a recent report by Kotaku.
Snap’s scrapping plans for Pixy, its flying selfie camera, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company just launched the product publicly four months ago.
Yes, people do use Apple Pay. It took some time, but the number of people using the service has skyrocketed over the past couple years.
Your data point of the day: Streaming represented a 34.8% share of total TV consumption among American TV households, ahead of cable and broadcast for the first time.
You're not the only one feeling guilty about the amount of time you spend online. According to a survey by Online Tech Tips, a little less than half of respondents think they spend too much time online, and over half of them would rather give up their phone for a year than have their browsing history published. Here are some other highlights from the survey:
DataRobot's AI Cloud for Financial Services Unlocks the Art of the Possible: Banks need to secure a competitive advantage in an increasingly tight race to harness best-in-breed technology. Decision makers need to not just plan a future-ready strategy, but also recognize the value of AI that could boost not just their performance in-house but also their reputation among their global customers.
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