Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Los Angeles-based Factual raises $35 million in Series B funding

Factual CEO Gil Elbaz
Los Angeles -based Factual raised $35 million from a group of investors including Michael Ovitz, Andreessen Horowitz, Altpoint Ventures, Data Collective, Haystack Partners, Heritage Group, Index Ventures, Miramar Ventures, Tamarisk Global, and others. In addition to Factual, the investment group has funded other data companies such as Palantir, Planet Labs, and The Climate Corporation.

Factual embeds its software into popular mobile applications to keep tabs on a user's location, determining their interests and demographics based on the places they’ve been, allowing ad technology companies to "target specific segments of the population, such as empty-nesters or college kids".  It currently follows around 600 million people.  "Its Geopulse Audience product helps build defined audience segments, spanning demographic, geographic, behavioral, and brand affinities; while its Geopulse Proximity tool enables advertisers to use popular location-based targeting techniques - such as geofencing and ‘geoconquesting’ - to deliver ads to mobile users based on where they currently are."  Factual follows about 600 million people. It’s now working on prediction software to figure out where people will go and personalize software to automatically tailor apps to individual tastes.

"In 2008 when I founded Factual, the need for a neutral data company whose only business is enabling others to build great products was crystal clear," said Gil Elbaz, CEO & founder of Factual. "Since then, the need has only grown as there has been a demonstrated trend among large platforms to limit or shut down 3rd party access to their data in favor of their own products. Access to data is as critical for innovation as access to computing power or talent. I'm incredibly proud of the progress we've made to date and I am looking forward to the next phase of the company. As we forge ahead, we will continue to make data accessible, accelerating innovation and improving our daily lives."

Read the entire L.A. Times article, Data startups, Riot Games data and more among week's L.A. tech highlights
Visit the Factual website:

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Broad Contemporary Art Museum Celebrates Opening with Gala

Michael Ovitz - The Broad Art Museum opens in Downtown L.A.
The Broad opens in Downtown L.A.
Michael Ovitz attended last night's opening night of The Broad, the Eli and Edythe Broads contemporary art museum located Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles.  “To have Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall, the Music Center, MOCA and LACMA, it’s like we’ve finally arrived,” Ovitz told THR in this article.

Featuring an opening collection of some 250 pieces from artists such as Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michael Basquiat, the new museum will be free to the public.  “It’s contemporary; it’s a celebration of now,” said producer Joel Silver. “And it’s free.” 

According to THR, "Even the gala was free. This included the reception and dinner on a nearby parking structure’s third floor that had been topped with a glass-walled tent and filled with 43 rectangular tables that each seated 16. The color of the space was museum grey. After the guests arrived, a screen was pulled back and a 50-piece orchestra (all dressed in white) was playing Cole Porter’s 'I've Got You Under My Skin.'"

Guests included artists, gallerists, cultural figures, politicians, business titans, civic leaders and - of course - Hollywood stars.  Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie BeckTobey Maguire (with wife Jennifer Meyer), Gwyneth Paltrow, Owen Wilson, Val Kilmer and Rosanna Arquette, WME’s Ari Emanuel and lawyer Bert Fields were but a few of the 1,600 attendees.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Media moguls flock Michael Kassan’s Hamptons party

MediaLink chairman and CEO Michael Kassan
Michael Ovitz and Tamara Mellon attended a party in the Hamptons Friday nigtht hosted by MediaLink chairman and CEO Michael Kassan and his wife, Ronnie, according to this report on Page Six of the New York Post.

Guests at the East Hampton estate on Abrahams Path included " CEO Lisa Gersh and private-equity titan Alan Patricof and his wife, Susan; Hearst Magazine's president Michael Clinton, Group M’s ­Irwin Gotlieb, BuzzFeed chief creative officer Frank Cooper III and his wife, Nina Whittington Cooper, iHeartMedia’s ­Richard Bressler and PepsiCo’s Brad Jakeman."

Friday, August 7, 2015

Hamasaku - Legendary Sushi Spot Continues to Evolve

Michael Ovitz's Hamasaku - legendary spot's makeover
Hamasaku evolves with the times and remains on a roll
Michael Ovitz's Hamasaku has long been a fixture for high-end sushi lovers on L.A.'s Westside.'s A Legendary Sushi Spost's Big Makeover details the transition from Hamasaku's fame-inspired rolls (still available) to a more refined Japanese fare thanks to the leadership of executive sushi chef Yoya Takahashi and executive chef Wonny Lee.  Now Hamasaku has completed an interior design makeover as well "overhauled by architect Marwan Al-Sayed (of Utah’s Amangiri resort), who brought in a new “bento box” aesthetic, with blond wood and felt and fabrics in a wide variety of colors and textures. Offsetting the new design is an impressive selection of Japanese art from Ovitz's renowned collection.

“The quality of food and warmth of hospitality has never changed, and as all things need to evolve, it was important to not interrupt the overall ethos we originally created,” says Ovitz, a famed aficionado of Eastern influences. “Marwan Al-Sayed’s interpretation of what we had to offer breathed a new life into the space and mirrors the simplicity that I’ve always admired in Japanese design and culture.”

Read the entire article, A Legendary Sushi Spost's Big Makeover

Better yet, visit Hamasaku and see and taste the changes for yourself!  (I can personally attest it is the most delicious sushi in town).

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Unfinished Business: Carson's road to an NFL Stadium

Proposed NFL stadium for Carson, CA
On Aug. 11 the NFL will hold a special meeting on the Los Angeles situation, considered a "pivotal moment" in the league's more-than-20-year odyssey back to the Los Angeles-Orange County market. The owners will consider why a $1.75 billion stadium in Carson next to the 405 Freeway is the ideal place for the NFL to replant its flag in the nation's second-largest market - serving as the new home for either the Oakland Raiders or San Diego Chargers.

The NFL has had the Carson site on its short list for many years.  In both 1998 and 2003 Michael Ovitz played a prominent role in bringing NFL football to Carson.  In 2003, the league came very close to closing the deal; the NFL authorized $10 million to purchase a 157-acre plot that was once a landfill.  At the time Ovitz acted as a go-between in negotiations between GMS, the real estate firm holding the site, and the NFL.

“People from L.A. thought there was great promise in Carson and that this is a centrally located, strategically positioned space that would accommodate the entire L.A. market," said Carmen Policy, (the former San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns executive who is spearheading efforts to gain the National Football League's approval of the Chargers and Raiders relocating to Carson of the site) that in recent years has undergone a $120 million cleanup. “Michael Ovitz was a huge proponent. We looked into it and we tried to buy it, we the league. We tried to buy it (from) the glazier union, but the remediation and the deal we were trying to cut in terms of the remediation and who's responsible and so forth, it just wasn't ready. So we went back and took another look at Carson ... and we didn’t know if there was an appetite, an immediate appetite for L.A. at that time, who were we going to put there and all that kind of stuff.

“We came up with $150,000 to buy an option to buy site for a certain period of time, due diligence, gave us a right to negotiate a purchase price. We just couldn't put the whole thing together.

“So in a sense it's all unfinished business.”

It is unknown what role if any Ovitz has in current negotiations.  He is a good friend of both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Raiders owner Mark Davis.

Read about Carmen Policy and the upcoming Aug. 11 Meeting in the OC Register's Former 49ers, Browns executive Carmen Policy using all his expertise to move Chargers, Raiders to Carson

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Titans of tech head to Sun Valley's Allen & Company conference

Michael Ovitz arrives at Allen & Co's annual conference in Sun Valley, Idaho
Michael Ovitz arrived in Sun Valley, Idaho on Tuesday for Allen & Co's annual conference, a gathering of the biggest names in tech and entertainment including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla and SpaceX's Elon Musk, Apple's Tim CookYahoo!’s Marissa Mayer and many others.

The event, hosted by investment firm Allen & Company, focuses on talks about business and the economy and is strictly invite only, with members of the press kept at bay.  In the Tuesday morning session, Elon Musk offered his vision of the future during a panel with LinkedIn Corp. co-founder Reid Hoffman. The two executives know one another from having worked at PayPal together early in their careers.

With so many heavy hitters in one place, blockbuster deals are not uncommon.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, past deals hatched at least in part at the Sun Valley event include's founder Jeff Bezos purchase of The Washington Post for $250 million after discussions initiated at the 2013 Allen event and Disney's acquisition of ABC for $19 billion in 1996.

Other attendees to look out for this year include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Rupert Murdoch, Barry Diller, Universal Studios chairman Ron Meyer, Michael Bloomberg, Airbnb’s Brian Chesky, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Sony Entertainment chief Michael Lynton, The Weinstein Co.’s Harvey Weinstein, DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, Paramount’s Brad Grey, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, and Google's Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, to name just a few.

Read the Business Insider's The summer camp for billionaires, which kicks off in Sun Valley today, has yielded some blockbuster deals

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Jimmy Lee of JPMorgan Chase Remembered for Shaping an Industry

Michael Ovitz at memorial service for Jimmy Lee
Michael Ovitz, Jerry Speyer, Lloyd Blankfein, Gary Cohn, Charlie Rose and others exiting a memorial mass for Jimmy Lee.
"James B. Lee Jr., a towering figure on Wall Street, was remembered at his funeral Mass on June 22 as a father, a friend and an investment banker possessed of boundless energy, sprawling interests and a crackling wit, qualities that made him one of the most successful and beloved figures in his industry."

Michael Ovitz, Charlie Rose, Barry Diller, Marissa Mayer, Jack Welch, Jeff Immelt, Rupert Murdoch and many others were in attendance at the memorial for James B. "Jimmy" Lee, described by the Wall Street Journal as "one of its most quintessential figures—an archetypal investment banker who for four decades weathered booms, busts and changes in regulations by harnessing the art of deal making, networking with corporate chieftains and promoting his successes."

The service, in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan, "was just blocks from where Mr. Lee worked as vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase. There, he shaped corporate America and the nation’s biggest bank through a career that established him as perhaps the pre-eminent deal maker of his generation."

Honorary ushers in attendance included Michael R. Bloomberg; Roger Goodell, the National Football League commissioner; and Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of the private equity firm Blackstone.

Lee oversaw major mergers and acquisitions deals including the sale of General Electric assets, the General Motors and Alibaba IPOs (the two largest U.S. IPOs ever), the United-Continental merger and the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger.

"As Vice Chairman of our company and former head of our Investment Bank, Jimmy made an indelible and invaluable contribution to our company, our people, our clients and our industry over his nearly 40 years of dedicated and selfless service. Jimmy was a master of his craft, but he was so much more—he was an incomparable force of nature," JP Morgan Chase's Jamie Dimon said.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., said Mr. Lee “believed in us long before many others did—when we were a small company with little revenue, he told us and anyone else who would listen how much potential he thought Facebook had. He was a trusted counselor.”

Reach the Wall Street Journal's Jimmy Lee, Famed J.P. Morgan Deal Maker, Dies

Saturday, June 20, 2015

New 6th Street Viaduct is a bridge to a different future

Los Angeles' new 6th Street Viaduct
Michael Maltzan, architect of Michael Ovitz's residence, continues to innovate in his recent re-imagining of Los Angeles' iconic 6th Street Viaduct, crossing the L.A. River to connect downtown and Boyle Heights.  

Working with the engineering firm HNTB, Maltzan envisioned a bridge that didn't merely cross a river, but integrated a city.  "Our new bridge will not only bring people from Point A to Point B but to Point C — the bridge itself," said City Councilman José Huizar while announcing the winner of the design competition.  The bridge is designed for all types of transportation, from a roadway with arches slanting out at angles 'like the spikes on a stegosaurus' to keep drivers from feeling 'hemmed in', to staircases and bicycle ramps that 'allow pedestrians and cyclists to move throughout the bridge to catch views of the city's skyline to the west and explore the river below.'  The "bridge as destination" theme is reinforced by an amphitheater under the western grade and a municipal park to the east.

In 2000, Ovitz commissioned Maltzan to build a new residence both for his family and to be able to display his art collection.  Maltzan faced many of the same challenges in reconciling multiple uses into a single design.

Michael Ovitz Residence
The house was completed in 2010 and now acts at a permanent home for works from modern and contemporary painting and sculpture, to Ming Dynasty furniture and African antiquities. The house features three dedicated galleries, one of which is a rotating project space where commissioned artists create site-specific installations on an annual basis, thereby allowing the collection to expand the collection while also establishing new and lasting relationships with contemporary artists.

Read the entire Los Angeles Times article, New 6th Street Viaduct is a bridge to a different future