Wednesday, June 11, 2014
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Aerovironment Gets First Commercial Drone Flight Okay
Monrovia, California-based unmanned aircraft manufacturer Aerovironment has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, to conduct the first, commercial unmanned aircraft flights over land, the FAA announced Tuesday. According to the FAA, energy company BP and Aerovironment will be allowed to use the Puma AE for aerial surveys in Alaska, related to oil pipeline, road, and equipment tracking. The FAA said the approval is a step towards broader, commercial use of unmanned aircraft. (More info...)

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Expresscoin Launches Bitcoin Exchange Service
Santa Monica-based Expresscoin said Wednesday that it has launched a new service to buy and sell Bitcoin, as well as other alternative currencies, such as Dogecoin. The startup--formerly known as Cash Into Coins--said it is looking to bring Bitcoin to the masses with its service, helping average customers to buy and sell bitcoin without needing access to a brokerage firm. The company was co-founded by Will Wheeler and Joseph Hsieh. The company claims to have had $15M in USD transactions in its f (More info...)

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Qualcomm's Jacobs Sees The Light With New Investment
Qualcomm's Executive Chairman, Paul Jacobs, is one of the major investors in stealthy digital photography startup Light, which revealed last night that it has raised a $9.7M funding round for its efforts to re-invent photography. The company--led by Dave Grannan--said the funding came from Bessemer Venture Partners, Charles River Ventures, Paul Jacobs, as well as Sanjay Jha of Motorola Mobility. Jacobs joins the company's board as part of the funding. Light was co-founded by Dr. Rajiv Laroia, wh (More info...)

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Ambrx Sets IPO Pricing Range
La Jolla-based biopharmaceuticals developer Ambrx has set its initial estimated pricing range for its IPO, saying in a filing this morning that it expects to price its IPO at between $12.00 and $14.00 per share. The offering will raise around $86.94M for the company. Ambrx has applied to list on the NASDAQ Global Market as AMBX. The company is venture backed by Tavistock, Maverick Capital, Apposite Healthcare, Versant Ventures, 5AM VEntures, Roche, and Merck, among others. Ambrx is developing op (More info...)

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Happy Hour Pal Targets San Diego With Restaurant, Bar Deals
Happy Hour Pal, a developer of mobile apps to connect consumers with happy hour deals and offers, said this week that it has launched into San Diego, beyond its roots in Hawaii. The startup--based in Honolulu--said it has begun listing happy hours pecials on its app for San Diego consumers, letting them find those specials based on specific types of food, drink, time, and location. The company said it will be partnering with Hard Rock Cafe and Uber for its San Diego launch. The company current (More info...)

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Kite Pharma Sets IPO Range
Los Angeles-based biopharmaceuticals developer Kite Pharma has set an initial offering range for its IPO, saying in a filing this morning that it expects to sell 6 million shares of its common stock at between $12.00 and $14.00 per share. The company has applied to list on the NASDAQ Global Market as KITE. The company is venture backed by Pontifax, Alta Partners, and Commercial Street Capital, as well as David Bonderman. Kite Pharma is developing treatments for cancer.

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Procore Raises $15M
Carpinteria-based Procore, a developer of construction management software, has raised $15M in a funding round from Bessemer Venture Partners, the company disclosed today. The startup is led by Tooey Courtemanch and Steve Zahm. The company--which recently moved into a new, 13,000 square foot headquarters on the Carpinteria bluffs--develops software used by construction teams to manage communications, blueprints, projects, and much more. Bessemer said that Procore now has over 600 customers and m (More info...)

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Oculus VR Snags Naughty Dog Co-Founder As Exec
Irvine-based virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR is continuing to build out its team, and has snagged one of the co-founders of game maker Naughty Dog--Jason Rubin--as head of worldwide studios. Oculus VR said that Rubin will head up first-party content initiatives in Seattle, San Francisco, Menlo Park, Dallas and Irvine for the company. Rubin is best known for his role in shaping Naughty Dog's Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter series.

posted on Wednesday, June 11, 2014(Full story)

j2 Global Raising $300M In Convertible Notes For Acquisitions, Growth
Los Angeles-based j2 Global said late Tuesday that it is raising $300M via an issue of convertible senior notes, which will be due in 2029. The publicly held company--which owns a significant number of Internet services, in addition to publisher Ziff Davis--said it will use that debt funding for general corporate purposes, including acquisitions. j2 Global did not say how much of that capital would go towards acquisitions, however, the company has been a ravenous acquirer of companies across the (More info...)

posted on Wednesday, June 11, 2014(Full story)

NantHealth Gets $25M From Celgene
Los Angeles-based healthcare IT company NantHealth, which is led by billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, said Tuesday that it has raised $25M in a funding round from Celgene, which brings its total raised to more than $100M in strategic investments. Celgene had already invested $75M in another company related to NantHealth, NantBioscience. NantHealth is focusing on developing clinican information technology systems to help medical researchers, initially with a focus oncancer detection, preventio (More info...)

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RuiYi Gets $4M In Venture Loan
La Jolla- and Shanghai-based RuiYi, a biopharmaceuticals firm developing treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, said yesterday that it has raised $4M in a venture debt funding, from Silicon Valley Bank. The company said it will use the funds to advance a pipeline of novel monoclonal antibodies (mAb) targeting G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). RuiYi, which is led by Paul Grayson, has its operations split between the San Diego area and Shanghai.

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Los Angeles Venture Association 30th Anniversary - July 15th
Come celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Venture Association!

30 years; 500+ events; 1000s of speakers/panelists; dozens of presentations from industry and technology leaders including: 3 presidential candidates, future mayors of LA and San Francisco, a future CA governor, a NFL Rookie of the year, a future athletic director, regulators, press and community leaders; and, of course, attended by 10,000s of entrepreneurs, financiers, service providers and thought leaders who are the core of our entrepreneurial community.

July 15th, 7:00 AM at the Skirball Center

Register today at

Safire Partners Executive Search
Safire Partners has completed 500+ retained executive searches since 2006 working with emerging businesses in Southern California. Please visit our website to see an updated list of our clients and searches completed at We are always interested in meeting new candidates and potential clients, so feel free to email our Managing Partner, Todd Gitlin at

Key Information Systems
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