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Jared Leto, Scooter Braun and Troy Carter are backing Moment House, a startup recreating live events… digitally

A pitch to offer artists a way to give geo-fenced, live events to fans around the world has brought the new Los Angeles startup Moment House $1.5 million in seed funding.

The money came from heavy hitters in the Los Angeles entertainment and investment scene including Scooter Braun, Troy Carter, Kygo’s Palm Tree Crew and Jared Leto. Patreon chief executive Jack Conte and Sequoia Capital partner Jess Lee also participated in the round.

Forerunner Ventures led the deal and the investment was made by Kirsten Green, the firm’s famous founder and managing partner. Kevin Mayer, the former chief executive of TikTok; GV chief David Krane; Aaron Levie from Box; the tech media and entertainment guru, Matthew Ball; and product maestro Eugene Wei all participated in the round as well.

Founded by Arjun Mehta, Shray Bansal, and Nigel Egrari, the company grew out of work the three men did while attending USC and the USC Jimmy Iovine & Dr. Dre Academy for the Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. 

The company touts itself as the simplest way for artists to create online events for their fans.

For its first foray into live entertainment, Moment House is going to host a geo-fenced, location-specific tour for the musician Yungblud. Other ticketed events from Kygo, blackbear, Kaytranada, Denzel Curry and Ruel will follow, the company said.

For musicians, the company’s pitch of ticketing security, merchandise integrations global payments support, must have been music to their ears — because all of those features add up to one thing… cash.

And performers on the platform take all of the ticket revenues, with Moment House earning money by charging fans a small fee.

In a statement, company co-founder Arjun Mehta said that the company’s technology and service wasn’t a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but rather a way to amplify the concert going experience with an online approximation.

“Moment House is empowering artists to deliver digital experiences that feel authentic and compelling,” said Leto, in a statement. “I was drawn to the unique design-driven approach because that’s what is needed to create a new category here.”

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Edtech is the new SaaS

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

The whole crew was back, with Natasha Mascarenhas and Danny Crichton and myself chattering with Chris Gates behind the scenes making it all work. An extra shoutout to Natasha this week as we spent a lot of time talking about edtech, a category that she spearheads for us and has brought to the show. It’s a big deal!

We’re on YouTube now, don’t forget, and with that, let’s get into the news:

And with that, we are nearly at the weekend which is a long one thanks to a holiday, so expect Equity Monday to be, in fact, Equity Tuesday next week. Hugs and good vibes from the Equity Crew!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

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Media Roundup: Patreon joins unicorn club, Facebook could ban news in Australia, more

Welcome to the very first edition of Extra Crunch’s Media Roundup. Over the past few months, we’ve launched features like Decrypted, Deep Science and The Exchange, which aggregate and analyze the latest news in a given sector, so it seemed overdue to do something similar for media.

The goal is to provide a regular update on what entrepreneurs in the content or advertising business should be thinking about. That doesn’t just mean startup funding — we’ll track the broader landscape, including platform policies that could affect everyone — which is just as important as knowing who’s getting checks.

If you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see included in future roundups, please let me know in the comments below.

Let’s get started.

Facebook may ban news sharing in Australia

This is part of an ongoing dispute between Facebook and the Australian government, which has created a plan that would require Facebook and Google to share revenue with Australian news publishers whose content appears on their services. Both companies have a complicated relationship with the news business, with many publishers both relying on large platforms for traffic while also resenting the fact that those platforms take the vast majority of digital ad revenue.

In an attempt to improve that relationship, Google and Facebook have committed in recent years to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in journalism — and while those efforts are commendable, it’s worth asking whether publishers should be entitled to more by law, not just as a gift.

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Shadows’ Dylan Flinn and Kombo’s Kevin Gould on the business of ‘virtual influencers’

In films, TV shows and books — and even in video games where characters are designed to respond to user behavior — we don’t perceive characters as beings with whom we can establish two-way relationships. But that’s poised to change, at least in some use cases.

Interactive characters — fictional, virtual personas capable of personalized interactions — are defining new territory in entertainment. In my guide to the concept of “virtual beings,” I outlined two categories of these characters:

  • virtual influencers: fictional characters with real-world social media accounts who build and engage with a mass following of fans.
  • virtual companions: AIs oriented toward one-to-one relationships, much like the tech depicted in the films “Her” and “Ex Machina.” They are personalized enough to engage us in entertaining discussions and respond to our behavior (in the physical world or within games) like a human would.

Part 2 of 3: the business of virtual influencers

Today’s discussion focuses on virtual influencers: fictional characters that build and engage followings of real people over social media. To explore the topic, I spoke with two experienced entrepreneurs:

  • Dylan Flinn is CEO of Shadows, an LA-based animation studio that’s building a roster of interactive characters for social media audiences. Dylan started his career in VC, funding companies such as Robinhood, Patreon and Bustle, and also spent two years as an agent at CAA.
  • Kevin Gould is CEO of Kombo Ventures, a talent management and brand incubation firm that has guided the careers of top influencers like Jake Paul and SSSniperWolf. He is the co-founder of three direct-to-consumer brands — Insert Name Here, Wakeheart and Glamnetic — and is an angel investor in companies like Clutter, Beautycon and DraftKings.

Source: TechCrunch