A weekly roundup of must-read L.A. tech investments and acquisitions.


$7.1 Million

Type: Equity

Location: Venice

Investors: Series A round was led by Pelion Venture Partners, with participation from KEC Ventures, Blockchain Capital, Digital Currency Group and RRE Ventures.

Description: Gem’s technology promises to make using bitcoin, and its underlying infrastructure called blockchain, easier by simplifying the cryptocurrency’s integration into mobile apps and websites. The company has developed a plug-in that allows app developers to use bitcoin without expertise in cryptography or bitcoin protocols. Founded in 2014, Gem had previously raised $4.9 million in seed funding.

Related: Bitcoin Development Platform Gem Raises $7.1 Million


$5.5 Million

Type: Equity

Location: Santa Monica

Investors: Two undisclosed investors

Description: Equity crowdfunding platform StartEngine of Santa Monica has raised $5.5 million from two investors, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. StartEngine, founded by former Activision Executive Chairman Howard Marks, launched as a tech startup accelerator in 2011. In June, the company re-invented itself as an equity crowdfunding platform that helps startups raise money from nonaccredited investors in exchange for shares. StartEngine’s first offering, a $25 million share sale for automotive startup Elio Motors of Phoenix, Ariz., was initiated last month and is ongoing.

Related: StartEngine Raises $5.5 Million

Activision Blizzard Inc.

$46 Million

Type: Purchase

Location: Santa Monica

Bought: Major League Gaming

Description: Activision Blizzard Inc. of Santa Monica has purchased most of the assets of e-sports league Major League Gaming for $46 million. MLG’s e-sports broadcasting platform and professional e-sports tournaments will now operate as part of Activision Blizzard Media Networks, which was launched in October as part of the company’s continued push into the e-sports sector. Activision Chief Executive Robert Kotick said the company “plans to create the ESPN of e-sports.”

Related: Activision Buys Major League Gaming Assets

Chernin Group


Type: Acquisition

Location: Santa Monica

Bought: Barstool Sports

Description: Peter Chernin’s tech investment firm Chernin Group of Santa Monica has taken a 51 percent stake in raunchy men’s website Barstool Sports. Chernin is planning on investing further into Barstool of Milton, Mass, hiring additional staff, increasing content production and adding a production studio in New York. Barstool Sports is a comedy, sports and lifestyle website launched in 2004. The site’s content includes sports gossip and photo galleries of scantily clad women. It seeks to emulate the vulgar sports conversations that male fans have among themselves at home, in stadiums and at bars.

Related: Chernin Group Invests in Raunchy Barstool Sports

Technology reporter Garrett Reim can be reached at greim@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @garrettreim for the latest in L.A. tech news.

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