Interview: Elevator Labs’ Zack Zalon on New Funding, LA’s Innovative Tech Scene

The state of the economy may be a big question mark but one thing’s for sure: L.A. tech is hot. Westwood-based Elevator Labs received $20 million in funding this week in another example of investors putting money into innovative Los Angeles-based startups (just last week Santa Monica-based BetterWorks received an $8 million investment).

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Once-Mighty Myspace Acquired for Measly $35 Million

myspace acquired by specific mediaAfter months in search of a buyer, Myspace has finally been acquired. In an email to employees late Wednesday morning, CEO Mike Jones broke the news to employees in an email late Wednesday morning, according to TechCrunch.

Specific Media will acquire the fledgling social network turned social entertainment site for $35 million according to All Things D.

“Today, we are announcing that Myspace will be acquired by Specific Media, one of the world’s leading online media and advertising platforms,” Jones wrote in the email addressed to Myspacers. “Over the next few days you will be hearing from the team at Specific, including their CEO, Tim Vanderhook, regarding their exciting plans for Myspace and how it fits in with the overall vision of their company.”

Jones indicated in the email that a significant reduction in staff was imminent, adding that he would be stepping down as CEO of Myspace after assisting with the transition to Specific Media over the next two months.

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Namesake.com Invites You to Talk About Your Passions

namesake.com invites

With Twitter becoming more and more of an echo chamber and LinkedIn lacking in conversation what it offers as a networking tool, it can be difficult to find a place on the web to provoke frank conversation, receive honest feedback, and develop professional relationships for co-creation.

Namesake, a Los Angeles-based startup, is hoping to fill that void. Founded in January 2010 by entrepreneurs Brian Norgard and Dan Gould as a place for professionals and creators to match ideas with opportunities and resources, Namesake.com is still in private beta (to get in now http://nmsk.co/gRsIvp).

Based in a small office in the Hollywood Hills, Namesake is the third startup for Norgard and Gould, who previously cofounded NewRoo, a content aggregator acquired by News Corp in 2006, and Twitter advertising tool Ad.ly.

As a Namesake user, you can build a profile with a full bio and embedded video, or choose to keep it simple. Users can follow conversations passively, participate, and initiate their own. Conversation activity on the site streams in real time on the main page.

Questions and topics recently active in conversations on the site range from the Peter Thiel-inspired “What is it about the world that you know is true that everyone else doesn’t understand?” to “…here’s my washed, dried Beef round top round steak, what shall I do with it?” and “Anyone got tips for staying active in social media… while still being productive & getting tons of stuff done?”

Namesake also features live chats, one afternoon for example, author and USC Marshall faculty member Dave Logan is leading a conversation on tribal leadership. A live chat earlier that day featured LA-based serial angel investor and BetterWorks founder Paige Craig.

Try Namesake out for yourself — get in while it’s still in beta by visiting http://nmsk.co/gRsIvp.

Originally posted May 26, 2011 at LAist.

Interview: Ooyala’s Chris Wong on Trends in Online Video and Advertising

Digital Hollywood took over the Ritz at Marina del Rey for its Spring 2011 conference, a nice change of scenery for the hundreds of studio execs, advertising and entertainment execs, online video creatives, technologists, SAG members and agents in attendance. (Members of the Dallas Mavericks, who could be spotted in and around the pool area, apparently enjoyed their stay as well).

Between absorbing the latest trends as discussed by multiple panels we managed to interview a few executives from top online media companies.

In the video below, Ooyala’s Vice President of Biz Dev, Chris Wong, explains the importance of streaming video solutions providers, why most companies require DRM (digital rights management) to control copyright, and ponders the meteoric rise of Netflix and the potential impact of its competitors.



Click here to view on YouTube.

SXSW 2011 Highlights

In an eleventh-hour decision, I cashed in some American AAdvantage miles and caught a flight to Austin for spring break — or more specifically, the 25th annual South by Southwest Conference. With all of the networking opportunities, free food, drink, music and friends – some of whom i only see once a year or so – i’m glad i took advantage and visited the great city of Austin. It was a whirlwind four days but the photos and video below provide some flavor.


See my photos from past years at SXSW

The trip began with an amazing takeoff directly into the fading sun over the Pacific. This would be the last time the sun set before Daylight Savings time kicked in. Got in to Austin and met up with Jory, provider of a fine crash pad for the duration of my stay. Then began a serious of meetups, events, and parties: All Hat III, which was a priceless opportunity to visit with many of the folks I most admire in the interactive space who happen to share a passion and commitment to do-gooding.

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