L.A.'s 10 Hottest Start-ups
L.A.'s start-up scene is booming. Just consider some of these stats recently released by Built in LA , an online start-up community. In the first half of 2013, 94 new companies launched, more than $500 million total in capital went to 92 companies, and eight companies exited for a collective $153 million. Here's a look at the top 10 start-ups in the area, based on the size of their most recent transactions.--Em Maier
The smiling ghost application that sends vanishing images, videos, and texts is booming with over 8 million U.S. users. Based in Venice Beach, the company is rumored to have a valuation between $500 million and $1 billion. Snapchat has raised $74 million to date, including a $60 million Series B round in June.
"We hoped the rest of the world would love it too. The response has been absolutely mind blowing," the team wrote on its blog last month.
The two-year-old global YouTube network recently raised around $30 million from The Chernin Group with participation from Comcast Ventures and WPP Digital. Wise license negotiations and strategic relationships with investors have helped the company grow: Fullscreen's clients now include NBCUniversal and FOX, it runs more than 15,000 YouTube channels, and it reaches 200 million subscribers, according to SpinMedia.
Why has it struck a chord with customers? "As a creator today, you’re expected to be your own media company," Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos, a past YouTube and Google executive, told TechCrunch. And that's exactly what his company helps brands do.
Led by former MySpace CEO Mike Jones, the incubator nurtures new start-ups and helps established Internet companies grow. Science's mission is to form companies that reach at least a $100 million valuation. Hearst Ventures recently invested around $30 million to help further that goal.
“Over the past 10 years I’ve done a lot of early-stage investing in L.A., and I wanted to set up an operational company whose job was to build companies and create levered assets across the network," Jones said to Forbes. You might recognize some of the companies in Science's portfolio, including Dollar Shave Club and DogVacay.
OpenX is an online advertising platform that conducts 250 billion monthly transactions and counts among its customers Newsweek, Samsung, and eHarmony. Incorporated in 2008, the Pasadena company has raised over $75 million, with its 2013 Series E funding bringing in $25 million.
Spearheaded by CEO David Geller, the company is building a mobile platform for fantasy sports and social gaming. TopLine Game Labs received $25 million in June from Cantor Ventures, and plans to launch a weekly fantasy football game during the real season. Geller, former Global Head of Fantasy Sports at Yahoo! Sports, wants TopLine to venture into into a variety of topics, including reality shows and Wall Street stocks.
IBISWorld analyst Dale Schmidt said its mobile focus is part of what makes TopLine so hot. "It is a fast-growing industry that’s attracting a lot of companies with good reason," he said in the LA Times.
In 2005, Wes Nichols and Jon Vein founded the analytics company to arm marketers with much-needed data. (MarketShare recently completed an in-depth analysis of the efficacy of video and mobile ads. Check it out here ). The company has raised over $41 million, most recently with a $38 million round in April.
"The writing is on the wall: Marketing is rapidly becoming a war of knowledge, insight, and asymmetric advantage gained through analytics 2.0. Companies that don’t adopt next-generation analytics will be overtaken by those that do," Nichols wrote in the Harvard Business Review.
Launched publicly in May with $17 million, the company runs a video submission and management platform that lets brands find and use videos created by their customers or fans. Companies can send out a call to its fans via different social media sites and then SendUs handles the logistics. Brands such as Singapore Airlines and Peugeot have tried it.
"Consumers and brands alike care about co-creation and one-dimensional brand messages are no longer impactful. ‘Likes’ and retweets are hardly real engagement," executive chairman George Crowley told VentureBeat.
The company, once known as Buzz Media owns or represents over 40 pop-culture sites. In March, it raised over $15 million and in April, it bought an old friend: Vibe, an R&B and hip-hop magazine with whom SpinMedia had been part of the same company (Vibe/Spin Ventures) more than a decade ago. The company's latest project has integrated social media, advertising, and Chartbeat into a platform it calls "Lucid."
Founded in 2009, DAQRI creates augmented reality experiences for companies. With $15 million in VC funding, DAQRI's technology turns static images (viewed through a smartphone or tablet camera) into interactive experiences: a skeleton appears above an anatomy textbook; a Maxim cover morphs into a behind-the-scenes video. The company says the technology will come to Google Glass.
“We’re at the forefront of a technology revolution that will change the way people see the world,” founder Brian Mullins told TheNextWeb.
Barely a year old, the video game console has raised over $23 million, $15 million of which it closed in May from Shasta Ventures. OUYA lets any developer create new games. The company currently offers 252 games, all of which have a free-to-play aspect, allowing consumers to try out the game before purchasing.
When OUYA launched last July on Kickstarter, it reached its fundraising goal within eight hours, establishing the record for best first-day performance on the crowdfunding platform.