MaC Ventures, the brainchild of Adrian Fenty and Marlon Nichols, is quietly making its first …

Fenty, the former mayor of Washington, and an early special advisor to Andreessen Horowitz seven years ago, has long been interested in the …

MaC Ventures, the new Los Angeles-based investment firm formed from the merger of Cross Culture Ventures and M Ventures, has quietly started deploying capital from its fund.

One of the firm’s first disclosed investments is Edge Delta, which announced a $3 million seed round earlier this week.

The Seattle-based company, which has a tool to predict and identify faulty code and potential security issues in software designed for mobile environments, reflects the new continuing focus on companies that reflect the changing cultural environments throughout the commercial, cultural and technological worlds.

And if anyone knows anything about downtime and application failures, it would be the two co-founders who have held positions at Microsoft, Twitter and Sumo Logic. That’s the background Ozan Unlu, a Microsoft and Sumo Logic alum, and Fatih Yildiz, who spent years at Twitter and Microsoft, will leverage as they pitch their services.

“We have reached the inflection point for centralized security analytics, SIEM products like Splunk are struggling to scale and a lack of mature SaaS offerings mean that if customers want to keep up with growth in their environments, innovation is required,” said Will Peteroy, founder and chief executive of ICEBRG (acquired in 2018) and chief technology officer for Security at Gigamon, in a statement.

That innovation is something that M Ventures and Cross Culture have tried to identify according to previous statements from both founders. And the merger between both firms was likely about growth and scale. Both firms have co-invested on a number of deals and both share the same emphasis on cultural shifts that create new opportunities.

Shared portfolio companies between the two firms include Blavity, BlocPower and Mayvenn, and each reflect a different aspect of the firms’ commitment to the transformations impacting culture and community in the twenty-first century.

BlocPower is focused on urban resiliency and health in the face of new challenges to the power grid; Blavity has become the online community for black creativity and news; and Mayvenn is leveraging the economics of community to create new entrepreneurs and enable new businesses.

For Adrian Fenty and Marlon Nichols — the two managing general partners of the new fund — and general partners Charles King and Michael Palank and partner Alyson DeNardo, MaC Ventures is a logical next step in their progression in the venture business.

Fenty, the former mayor of Washington, DC and an early special advisor to Andreessen Horowitz seven years ago, has long been interested in the intersection of technology and governance and said that politics was a great introduction to the venture world in an interview with TechCrunch when he joined Andreessen:

“As a mayor you have a lot of districts you work with, and every day is different,” Fenty said, noting that the same could be said for VCs who work with different startups. However, the pace will likely be a bit quicker in this space than it is in the political realm. “I believe that change should happen fast and in big ways, and that’s the tech industry,” he said. “Some of these entrepreneurs and CEOs, their energy and ability to come up with new ideas is infectious.”

As for Nichols, the introduction to venture capital came through work at Intel Capital before striking out with Troy Carter, a limited partner in the MaC Ventures fund, to form Cross Culture.

As the new firm finds its legs, it’s likely that some of the guiding principles that Nichols expressed when talking about Cross Culture will carry over to the new vehicle.

“This is the time to be here,” Nichols said in an interview earlier this year. “If you are going to invest in the companies of tomorrow you have to go where the world is moving to — and that’s black and brown, honestly.”

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Immersive Theater Experience Coming to LA Live

The Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live is getting a high-tech addition. In the coming weeks the complex will install the “Immersive Cinema Experience” …

The Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live is getting a high-tech addition. In the coming weeks the complex will install the “Immersive Cinema Experience” developed by the French company CGR Cinemas. The system involves adding 10 LED light panels to the sides of a theater (five on each side) that are illuminated to match the colors and tones of what is on screen; it also involves new surround-sound speakers.

The Downtown space will be the first American theater to employ the system. The technology will be installed in an L.A. Live theater with 190 seats, and will start screenings in the fall, according to Shelby Russell, senior vice president for L.A. Live marketing and L.A. Live Cinemas at Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns and operates the complex. Pricing is still to be determined, but Russell said there would be a surcharge for the enhanced experience.

In France, CGR has 32 auditoriums equipped with the technology.

RockHer’s New Diamond Provenance Feature Allows Shoppers to Easily Trace a Diamonds …

… ROSI helps RockHer customers easily find the perfect diamond for their budget through a simple user interface powered by IBM’s Watson. Founded …
Diamond Provenance

With the transparency of documented diamond provenance, you can be sure that you are not supporting conflict, child labor, or unsafe manufacturing conditions with your diamond purchase.

Now we are excited to take the next step and empower our customers to trace the journey of specific diamonds. They can know the whole story of a diamond before they buy.

LOS ANGELES (PRWEB)July 31, 2019

Luxury jeweler RockHer has introduced diamond provenance, allowing shoppers to easily trace diamonds from mine to market while shopping at RockHer.com. With the transparency of documented diamond provenance, you can be sure that you are not supporting conflict, child labor, or unsafe manufacturing conditions with your diamond purchase.

RockHer is a direct to consumer e-commerce retailer in Los Angeles dedicated to creating a better way to shop for high-end engagement rings online. RockHer was the first jeweler to introduce AI-powered diamond search. The company’s revolutionary digital gemologist ROSI helps RockHer customers easily find the perfect diamond for their budget through a simple user interface powered by IBM’s Watson.

Founded by CEO Jim Vernon, a family jeweler with over 30 years of experience in the industry, RockHer employs the industry’s best designers, craftsmen, and diamond experts to skillfully create brilliant custom-made engagement rings.

“At RockHer we always make sure that the diamonds we sell have been responsibly sourced but we’ve always wanted to do more to make the journey of each gem even more transparent,” Vernon said. “Now we are excited to take the next step and empower our customers to trace the journey of specific diamonds. They can know the whole story of a diamond before they buy.”

With the new diamond provenance technology, RockHer joins Tiffany & Co and Brilliant Earth in setting the standard for responsible diamond sourcing. The provenance program is launching with a selection of 4,000 diamonds in popular engagement sizes and qualities. The provenance program will include more of RockHer’s selection of 60,000 diamonds every month.

The diamond provenance documentation includes the original weight and origin of the diamond rough, the initial color grade, the cutting plan, the laser sawing details and resulting weight, the faceting and polishing, and the results of the final diamond grade from the Gemological Institute of America.

In addition to providing provenance for center diamonds, RockHer has also focused on responsible sourcing for the small diamonds in its engagement rings, partnering with Lipari, which operates the Braúna mine in Brazil, a showcase for responsible mining principles, to provide traceable small diamonds.

“We want to make sure every aspect of your ring is responsibly sourced and crafted,” Vernon said. “That doesn’t stop with the center diamond, it means the ring itself is made with care completely from responsibly sourced metal and gems. We know we can be proud of the way RockHer rings are made to last from responsibly sourced materials because we do it ourselves.”

Through RockHer’s engagement ring builder, customers can select from over 5,000 engagement ring settings and 60,000 ROSI evaluated diamonds, giving them more than 300,000,000 custom engagement ring options. RockHer then makes every engagement ring to order in its Los Angeles workshop with responsibly sourced diamonds and recycled precious metals.

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Social Network, IMVU and ArtCenter College of Design Partnership Explores Game Design and …

… to push forward the cutting edge and help millions more feel a greater sense of belonging,” adds Shawn Carolan, partner at Menlo Ventures.

Students Develop Experiences that Foster Connection and Friendship

LOS ANGELES, July 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — IMVU, the world’s largest avatar-based 3D social network, and ArtCenter College of Design, one of the world’s premier art and design schools located in Pasadena, California, recently launched a studio partnership to give students the opportunity to design 3D experiences that promote social connections. Students enrolled in “Online Avatars & Digital Landscapes” course are designing solutions to business challenges associated with motivating communication in a mixed-reality world.

IMVU, the #1 avatar-based social network.IMVU, the #1 avatar-based social network.

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IMVU, the #1 avatar-based social network.

“IMVU seeks to help our global community build real-life connections in virtual environments,” said Victor Zaud, SVP of marketing at IMVU and an ArtCenter alumnus. “We provide an interactive space where millions of users experience 3D creations and connect with one another on a deeper level than just chat. As society increasingly relies on online environments to connect, we’re dedicated to partnering with the young innovators who are designing the communication platforms of the future.”

“ArtCenter has a long history of bringing students and brands together to create valuable immersive learning experiences,” said Maggie Hendrie, chair of Interaction Design at ArtCenter. “Year after year, companies like Adidas, Jaguar and Google collaborate with our students and faculty in order to stay relevant and competitive.”

During the 14-week ArtCenter IMVU course, upper term students are learning about the history of human communication and understanding the necessary elements needed for people to socialize. Through a series of research assignments, investigative field trips, and making workshops, students are proposing interactive experiences that help the IMVU community to converse in new ways.

By examining how IMVU users guide their digital characters and interact with others in the community, student teams are assembling an initial hypothesis to eliminate friction, improve conversation and foster common bonds. Students are building tools, environments, avatars, and associated creative elements such as fashion pieces or room décor, to test their assumptions. Guided by expert faculty, students are testing and iterating their designs, in real-time, within IMVU’s live platform.

“The IMVU studio is an empowering educational experience because it expands student design skills by allowing them to immediately build and test concepts with millions of people in a live, 3D social environment,” said Jenny Rodenhouse, assistant professor, director of the Immersion Lab at ArtCenter and faculty of the IMVU studio class. Ming Tai, associate professor, faculty director of Graphics Design and Illustration, and faculty of the IMVU studio class, added, “The student teams learn to ideate, design, release, and repeat, iterating on new scenarios that have received real-time feedback. Students are learning how their work can actually facilitate digital socializing within IMVU, not hypothetically.”

“IMVU has been working to spread the power of friendship for over 15 years. It’s not easy to create the warmth of a friend’s smile or the visceral excitement of a concert in a digital world but they’ve made great progress as the world’s leading avatar-centric social network. I’m excited to see them partner with premiere institutions like ArtCenter to push forward the cutting edge and help millions more feel a greater sense of belonging,” adds Shawn Carolan, partner at Menlo Ventures.

For more information about partnerships like the one with IMVU and ArtCenter, visit: bit.ly/IMVUandArtCenter

About IMVU:

IMVU (imm-view) is a global 3D avatar-based social community where 200+ million registered users customize their characters, navigate immersive environments and make new friends. IMVU’s environment is tailored to support deep and meaningful connections in a competition-free environment. The multi-platform social network features self-organized social play that takes place in thousands of user-created spaces. It is the home of a robust digital economy featuring a catalog of 40 million virtual goods made by over 50,000 creators.

The app is rated 17+ for mature themes, is a top 10 social media network app on both Android and iOS and is also accessible on desktop and mobile web. Founded in 2004, IMVU hosts 200+ employees at their Redwood City, CA headquarters, is currently profitable and is supported by major investments from Menlo Ventures, Best Buy Capital, AllegisCyber Capital, and various other notable venture capital firms.

About ArtCenter College of Design:

Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status with the United Nations. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

Contacts:

Nicole Jordan

Radix Collective for IMVU

nicole@radixcollective.com

O 310-750-9556

Teri Bond

ArtCenter College of Design

teri.bond@artcenter.edu

O 626 396-2385

M 310 738-2077

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Co-living spaces: How millennials, Gen Z create affordable rent situations in big cities

In fact, 25% of all Americans have lived with someone they didn’t have a prior relationship with, according to a new Credit Karma survey, but what’s …
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Lightning Society Lofts in Bushwick, Brooklyn is a “collaborative living project” that sees 17 adults under one roof. Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

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After years of living alone and a six-month-long apartment hunt in New York City, 27-year-old Jade X found what she called the “holy grail” of living situations – roommates.

For two years, the hotel manager had been renting a $1,200-a-month one-bedroom apartment in a residential section of the Bronx, where she says she didn’t have any friends, felt little sense of community and “there was literally nothing to do.”

“I didn’t feel safe, and it really didn’t fit my vibe,” the free-spirited fashion design enthusiast said. “I liked the price of the apartment, but then again, you get what you pay for.”

After a friend recommended that she look into one of the metro area’s many communal living companies, Jade, who legally changed her last name to X, did some digging and quickly applied. Two weeks later, she moved into her new shared apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn, that is operated by Venn, a network of shared homes and spaces in the neighborhood.

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“Everyone who moves around New York City has their horror stories; but for the first time in my life, this was not one of them,” Jade said about moving into the two-story duplex. “After everything I’ve been through in New York, it was worth finding this in the end.”

With millennials carrying more student debt than ever before, earning less than their parents and dealing with unaffordable high rent prices in big cities, experts say “communal living” spaces in today’s sharing economy are both convenient and necessary.

Compared with traditional home buying or apartment renting, today’s cohabitation market is friendlier to lower credit scores, laxer with security deposits and offers greater flexibility than traditional leases with multiple roommates.

The lifestyle is often compared to adult dorms, with the communities formed intentionally for residential transplants. Hot spots span from L.A. to New York City, with budding hubs in metro areas nationwide.

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Jade’s apartment is run by Venn, an Israeli startup that leases and renovates properties before renting many of them as shared spaces. The 5-year-old company says it invests revenue back into the neighborhood by funding local businesses and programs to minimize displacement.

As a member of Venn, Jade and her roommates split the $3,900 rent among the three of them, however, some of the company’s residents are only responsible for their own room – a practice that’s common among cohabitation startups. Venn has more than 75 residents in NYC.

Utilities are included in the rent price along with access to local events, co-working spaces and yoga.

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“I think that the idea is about creating a certain lifestyle where people live, and it’s more like a hotel with amenities than what you would think of as a traditional apartment complex,” said Dana Bull, an real estate agent with Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty who has experience working with millennial clients.

“The rent prices are staggering, and it’s one of the only ways people can live in an area they want to live.”

The trend of living with strangers isn’t a new concept at all.

In fact, 25% of all Americans have lived with someone they didn’t have a prior relationship with, according to a new Credit Karma survey, but what’s different is the significant expansion and investment in the burgeoning housing model.

Expanding market

Co-living company Common has 27 buildings in six markets in the U.S. and announced last month that it is expanding into Canada. Other companies like WeWork’s WeLive, Ollie, and Quarters are also expanding their communal living options. In the next few years, the number of co-living spaces in the U.S. is expected to triple, according to a 2019 report by real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Urban co-habitats allow residents, often referred to as members, to share the living and kitchen areas of pre-furnished apartments. The living arrangement gives tenants access to amenities that would otherwise only be available at luxury properties, such as expansive rooftop decks with pools and open workspaces for people who work from home.

And millennials and Generation Z are at the center. Forty-three percent of Gen Z say they’ve lived with roommates they didn’t know compared to 31% of Millennials, Credit Karma, a personal finance company, found. Seventeen percent of millennials said they were somewhat-to-very likely to move in with roommates they didn’t know in the future, compared to 30​% of Gen Z respondents.

Where elder populations may find living with multiple strangers after a certain age strange, almost half of Gen Zers think four or more people could be reasonably housed in a two-bedroom apartment.

“We see this generation getting more creative to live how or where they want to live,” said Dana Marineau, Brand VP of Credit Karma which has more than 85 million members in the United States and Canada, including almost half of all U.S. millennials.

“College students today use AirBnB as a verb, they say they are going to AirBnB that spare room. They really are willing to get creative, live with strangers and they think to themselves, ‘I want to live in this particular area, what are the things I’m willing to do in order to do that.’”

Solution to isolation

Real community is a key component of many co-housing models, with residents being encouraged to interact and work with one another. That was the main selling point for 27-year-old Carlos Gordian whose first-year-lease is soon ending on a bedroom he rents in downtown Miami.

The modern 49-story communal living tower dubbed “X Miami” gave him an opportunity to “meet people and be part of something that’s new,” the engineer of a medical device company said. He had just moved to Miami from North Carolina and liked only being liable for his “unit” or bedroom under the semi-flexible lease.

“The policy is that you have up to two switches if you have a roommate you don’t like,” Gordian said. He was paired with two strangers he got along with. Now that he’s settled into the city, he plans on moving out of shared apartment situation in favor of lower rent elsewhere in Miami. Rents at X Miami range from about $1,400 to $1,900.

The shared space philosophy is also being adopted by older adults.

“The average age of our household is 33 years old, and we intentionally have a diverse age and income range,” said Joseph Tandle who, along with his partner Timothy Phillips started a co-living community called Lightning Society Lofts. “We’re not looking for a feedback loop of young adults. These aren’t just college kids.”

What began as a “community-oriented event space” in 2016 quickly evolved into a massive 12,000-square-feet apartment sliced into bedrooms and airy communal areas. The roommates range from ages 22 to 55, and the loft is shared by “members” who are civil rights attorneys, filmmakers and artists from varying professions.

Friction points

After intentionally eliminating co-living pain points like privacy issues and chore schedules, Tandle says the community feels more like a family.

“We intentionally took away all of the friction points of living together,” Tandle said. Tasks like cleaning the toilet, cleaning the shower and floors are done by maids so people don’t have to fight over who doesn’t clean up after themselves.

For members who aren’t in the mood to talk or engage with roommates, they use the word dip”to let others in the space know, “nothing against you, but I’m just going from point A to point B,” Tandle said. Residents sign year-long leases.

Smaller rooms go for $1,200 a month, and larger rooms are $1,700.

While these rents for a bedroom may seem extremely overpriced in most parts of the country, in Los Angeles the average one-bedroom apartment costs around $1,400 a month, and in NYC one bedrooms easily double that.

“We just recommend never living beyond your means,” Marineau of Credit Karma said. “So, if you want to live in an expensive area or you put more of your income toward rent than perhaps you should, we just want to make you’re making good choices in other areas of your life. ­”

Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown.

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