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  • 🌴 The Power of Community: 2023 Recap of Emerging LA

🌴 The Power of Community: 2023 Recap of Emerging LA

Emerging LA tech highlights of 2023. Top events, news, posts, rankings, and deals. PledgeLA, LA Tech Week, NVIDIA at SIGGRAPH, LAVA, Business Insider Rising Stars, Forbes 30 Under 30, 2023 Venture report, SpaceX $180B, Scopely acquired for $5B, SPILL’s pre-seed

As someone who was once more comfortable in the shadows, leading the charge at Emerging LA has been both a personal and professional triumph.

2023 has been a landmark year for Emerging LA - a journey from introverted beginnings to creating a bustling tech community!

20 years ago, in high school, I was literally voted 'Most Shy'.

I confess… I am an introvert.

Always have been and always will be.

But how am I hosting events, and why am I fostering a thriving community? 🤔

This is a testament to the power of stepping out of one's comfort zone!

It's about embracing the unexpected and finding strength in what once seemed challenging.

It is also about the power of community.

I deeply believe that community can transform lives.

I can speak firsthand about how different communities have had different impacts on my life.

Emerging LA came into existence in 2023 organically around amazing people in the LA ecosystem who expressed a need for community.

And I want to sincerely thank you all for showing up, because I have been blessed to get to know so many of you and found the community I had been looking for!

2023 achievements for Emerging LA community

Last year's achievements:

  • 🚀 Total Events: 13 transformative gatherings

  • 🌟 Total Attendees: 324 vibrant minds and innovators

  • 🤝 Total Subscribers: 1,458 signed up to join the community

  • 💡 Diverse Topics: e.g. Frontier Tech, BIPOC Founders, Emerging GPs/LPs

As we look ahead, let's make 2024 a year of even more inspiring connections and groundbreaking events.

Together, we're not just building networks; we're nurturing the future of LA's tech scene.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many of you! 🙏 (Special shout-outs at the end)

For those who don’t yet know me (yet), hello! 👋

I'm Brandon Hoffman. By day, I am a General Partner of Sunset Ventures; night & weekends, I am the founder & host of Emerging LA.

I grew up in Southern California, and after stints in New York and Silicon Valley, I was excited to return in 2019 and settle in Los Angeles.

My vision for Emerging LA is to be an IRL-focused community that brings founders, investors, and operators together to unlock the full potential of LA’s emerging tech ecosystem.

In this recap edition, you'll find the top 3 highlights for Emerging LA 2023 related to events, news, posts, members, and deals.


📆 Top 3 Events of 2023

Emerging LA leads the way in energizing LA's tech scene with great in-person events, bringing together the brightest minds in the room.

Here’s a snapshot of the top 3 events:

Event #1: Brex Supper Club at Brandon’s House

Supper Club with Sunset Ventures & Brex at Brandon Hoffman’s Residence

This event was the first that officially kicked off Emerging LA in the summer of 2023, on 7/10/23.

It was designed to be an intimate dinner, given that it was hosted at Brandon Hoffman’s home! This was an effective way to foster genuine connections among attendees. 

Support for this event came from Sunset Ventures as part of the Brex Supper Club series in LA.

(See our post for comments & photos)

Event #2: Hiking + Brunch Wharton Alumni & BIPOC friends

Hiking & Brunch with Wharton Alumni and LA’s BIPOC community

The Emerging LA weekend event featured a scenic hike and delightful brunch, bringing together families and friends of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. 

The hike started at Inspiration Loop in the Pacific Palisades and ended with brunch at the Black-owned Good People Café in Santa Monica on 11/11/23

Attendees came from alumni groups of Wharton, Harvard, and Stanford; fellows from Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) and Toigo Foundation; and members of the broader LA tech community.

Support for this event came from Wharton SoCal Alumni, Sunset Ventures, and Diverse Angels.

(See our post for comments & photos)

Event #3: Gaming LA Founders and Friends

Gaming LA Founders and Friends at Sherman Oaks

This gaming meetup was the largest Emerging LA event ever! 

It had 124 attendees at a gaming tech meetup at The One Up in Sherman Oaks, exceeding capacity fourfold on 12/14/23.

The meetup featured games, drinks, food, and spontaneous live demos, with enthusiastic feedback highlighting the community's appreciation for tech gatherings in The Valley. 

Support for this event came from Fractal, GOAT Capital, and Sunset Ventures.

(See our post for comments & photos)


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📰 Top 3 News Stories of 2023

In this edition of our newsletter, we delve into three pivotal developments that are shaping the tech landscape in Los Angeles:

Story #1: PledgeLA & M13 Support Underrepresented Founders

PledgeLA and M13 partner Anna Barber announce the goal of “50 in 5.” 

This calls for 50% of LA venture capital investment dollars to go to underrepresented founders by 2028 (over the next five years).

Story #2: LA Tech Week, hosted by Andreessen Horowitz, returns in 2023 and is more polished

Pictures from LA Tech Week 2023

Tech Week, mostly free and open to the public, has expanded from Los Angeles to San Francisco and New York City in its second year. 

The event featured 300 activities, involvement from 150 venture firms, and over 30,000 signups. Notably, Andreessen Horowitz, a leading venture firm, participated, underscoring the event's significance in the tech industry.

Some of the LA Tech Week events that I enjoyed: 

  • A private screening of Spider-Man on the Sony Pictures lot

  • Andrew Chen’s (from a16z) fireside chat on marketplaces

  • Live podcast recording of Gaming Founders at Upfront Ventures HQ

  • Hosting a group of founders from our Sunset Ventures portfolio

Story #3: NVIDIA CEO’s Keynote on AI at SIGGRAPH

At the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles, NVIDIA's CEO delivered a pivotal keynote, unveiling the company's future AI roadmap. 

This presentation highlighted NVIDIA's innovative direction in AI technology, showcasing new strategies and advancements. 

Here is a short video clip of me recapping the main takeaways of the conference and keynote.

Brandon Hoffman at the SIGGRAPH Conference in L.A

📣 Top 3 Posts of 2023

Below are the top 3 insightful posts in the LA startup and VC community:

Post #1: LA Venture Association Annual “State of VC”

L.A Venture Association’s 2023 Meeting

I attended the Los Angeles Venture Association's 2023 meeting to discuss the state of VC with Darren Eng and a panel of local LPs.

Despite the tough environment, I found myself walking away from another LAVA event energized to be a VC here in my hometown of LA! 

Darren said it best—he believes "the next five years will be explosive growth for LA Venture!!" I couldn't agree more!

Here are a few significant insights that the panel of LPs shared:

  • Venture over the next 3 years will differ significantly from last decade

  • Sector expertise and access to the best deals is what will matter

  • LA’s unique position in various sectors (tech, media, space, gaming) indicates high potential exits

Post #2: LA is 5th most active VC community in the US 

Source: Carta Insights

California's venture market is leading the US, with six of the top 15 counties in terms of invested capital during 4Q22 and 1Q23 and four counties deploying over $1 billion.

As highlighted in this post, the data from Carta Insights shows: 

  • Los Angeles ranks as the 5th most active U.S. county in venture capital (VC) investments, strongly focusing on the gaming industry.

  • San Diego emerges as a key player, with the biotech sector contributing 47% to this field and closely trailing Boston, a renowned biotech hub

  • San Francisco takes the lead in fintech, accounting for 9% of the sector's activity, the highest among U.S. counties, with over $1 billion in VC investment

  • Santa Clara stands out for its significant role in hardware and Software as a Service (SaaS), commanding 19% and 56% in these sectors, respectively. 

The state's diverse ecosystem, from SoCal to the Bay Area, is ripe for early-stage trends and unicorn dynamics, particularly in sectors like gaming, biotech, fintech, and hardware & SaaS.

Post #3: 2023 Venture Capital Wrapped up in 203 Slides

Source: Big Book of Venture Capital report 2023

2023 marked a return to stability in the tech sector after tumultuous changes!

The VC 2023 report comprehensively reviews the venture capital industry, encapsulating significant shifts and surprises.

The report has 203 slides (find it here), with compiled articles, charts, and insights from Carta, CB Insights, TechCrunch, AngelList, and PitchBook.

I enjoyed getting a chance to contribute to this collective effort! 

It was spearheaded by Rohit Yadav and a group of investors & industry experts worldwide.

🌟 Top 3 Member Spotlights of 2023

We're thrilled to spotlight LA's remarkable talents profiled in top industry rankings for technology, business, and venture capital. 

In future issues, we’ll look at the individual journeys of members of the community. They come from venture funds such as Lightspeed Venture Partners, Griffin Gaming, Techstars, Red Beard Ventures, and Sunset Ventures.

We will also discuss their achievements and unique contributions to their industries and our vibrant city. Stay tuned!

Spotlight List #1: LA’s Most Important Venture Capitalists

Business Insider's article profiles the top 32 venture capitalists in Los Angeles, identified by their industry peers.

The list showcases VCs known for their substantial impact on the LA tech sector through key investments and leadership, which include Spencer Rascoff of 75 & Sunny, Adriana Saman of Clocktower Technology Ventures, Sara Zayani of Global Founders Capital, and Brett Brewer of Crosscut Ventures.

Featured VCs are recognized for introducing innovative practices in the venture capital field.

It serves as a key resource for understanding the dynamics of the LA venture capital scene.

Spotlight List #2: Business Insider’s “Rising Stars of VC” in LA

There were 66 US investors featured in Business Insider's "Rising Stars of Venture Capital" list. 

These investors shook up the venture capital industry in 2023!

Business Insider compiled this esteemed list by asking the most significant VCs in the US to name the most promising VCs in their respective cities.

From the list of 66, only 5 are based in LA: Faraz Fatemi at Lightspeed, Elena Dickman at Red Beard Ventures, Boyoung Kim at Griffin Gaming Partners, Ahmed Mirza at Techstars, and Brandon Hoffman at Sunset Ventures.

Spotlight #3: Forbes 30 Under 30’s Local List for LA

The Forbes "30 Under 30 Local 2023" list for Los Angeles features outstanding young professionals and entrepreneurs who have significantly impacted their respective fields. 

Among the notable figures on the list are Eric Chi at eBay Ventures, Elena Dickman at Red Beard Ventures, and Sarah Figueroa at Geojam.

🤝 Top 3 Deals of 2023

Deal #1: SpaceX's valuation climbs to $180B

CNBC reports SpaceX's valuation at $180 billion during its current secondary share sale.

Discussions are underway to sell the stock at $97 per share, primarily involving insider shares.

This new valuation places SpaceX higher than major U.S. defense contractors and top telecom companies in market value.

Deal #2: Savvy Games Buys Gaming Firm Scopely for $4.9B

Saudi Arabia's Savvy Games Group is acquiring mobile game studio Scopely for $4.9 billion.

Scopely, known for popular mobile games and a $3.3 billion valuation in 2020, will continue to operate autonomously within Savvy.

The acquisition aligns with Saudi Arabia's $38 billion investment to become a video game industry hub and marks the sixth-largest deal in history.

Deal #3: LA-based SPILL Raises to Revolutionize Social Media

SPILL aims to transform social media by emphasizing culture, rewarding creators, and using new tech for a safer platform. It is founded by Alphonzo Terrell and DeVaris Brown.

Investment in SPILL's $2M+ pre-seed round came from influential LA-based investor Marlon C. Nichols (MaC Ventures), Mitch Kapor (Kapor Capital), and Sunset Ventures.

Thanks to all the co-hosts & supporters: Antonio, Manisha, Joanna, Grace, Scott, Frank, Louis, Brent, Aaron, Nonya, Robin, Maiwenn, Jonathan, Jeanine, Conchita, Gerome, Art, Rob, and Jason. 

Thanks to all the partner sponsors: SVB, Sydecar, Brex, Sunset Ventures, Samsung Next, GOAT Capital, Fractal, Ziff Recruiting, Wharton, Toigo Foundation, and MLT.