2019 LA CFA Society Portfolio Conference

In this video – produced by Oaktree Capital – CEO of the global alternative investment management firm, Jay Wintrob engages in a “fireside chat” with Jane Wells, Special Correspondent at CNBC.  Discussions took place in conjunction with this year’s Portfolio conference of the LA CFA Society, that is each year aimed at LA’s investment community and the industry at large.

3L Capital Investments

Last month an announcement was made by 3L Capital (an equity investment company) concerning the $217 million equity fund it had raised in order to continue its investments into local firms seeking growth. The firm – based in Westwood – will be putting the monies raised toward companies looking for a Series B/later investments.

Investments in the past have been made in Wheels Lab Inc. – an e-bike operator in West Holywood; The Young Turks, a Carthay LA neighborhood online talkshow and Culver City retailer SnackNation.

3L was founded roughly two years ago by Shawn Colo, former chief executive for Demand Media; Kerry Kellogg; and Dave Leyrer, founder of Boulevard Capital Management. Its previous investments include West Hollywood-based e-bike operator Wheels Labs Inc.; Carthay-based online talk show The Young Turks; and SnackNation, a Culver City-based snack retailer.

STEM Jobs: What’s New in LA

Technology hubs throughout the West Coast are in the lead nationwide with job opportunities in the STEM industry.  With an 8.2 percent increase in LA between 2014 and 2018, this makes it the city that has encountered the fastest growth in this industry.

STEM preparation is starting young in California, and in some places is focusing on women.  A new mobile STEM center has been rolled out by the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California (GSHCC) in an attempt to involve those Girl Scouts living in urban and rural areas who are not able to get to Sacramento and Modesto STEM centers. GSHCC is available to 17,500 members and over 9,000 volunteers in 18 Northern Californian counties. The idea is, according to manager of the STEM initiative Girl Scouts, Beth Peters, to “serve all the girls in our 18 counties.”

From Hollywood to the Holyland: Nighttime Light Show

Photographer Mozes Victor Konig is no stranger to nighttime light shows.  A Tel Aviv, Israeli native, it is perhaps surprising therefore that the only nighttime light show he had  experienced until now was the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, that lightens up Universal Studios on select nights over the summer.  Statistics show however that it is usually tourists who make the most of local city attractions, rather than the locals themselves.

This year, Konig decided to make the most of summer offerings close to home and took a trip to Jerusalem to enjoy the holy city’s Spectacular Sound and Light Show.  And, as its title suggests, it was – in Konig’s own words, “spectacular.”

“Don’t get me wrong, the Universal Studios’ Hogwarts Castle was really great.  It’s just that for me – being in the capital of our country – seeing what is right at my doorstep seemed somehow that bit more spectacular.  Plus, it offers an incredible history lesson. You get to see the old city walls just light up and get used as a dramatic stage for the beautification of Jerusalem’s 4,000 year old history!  It’s not just a cool, fun gimmick; this is real.  You see archaeological remains, listen to stories of Biblical King David, the Crusaders, Muhammad and more.  As well as being “spectacular” it truly is a lesson in history without sitting at your classroom desk.”

So if you are making your way this summer from Hollywood to the Holyland, make sure you get your tickets for the Night Spectacular.   While really enjoying your evening, you will also return home with knowledge of the history of Jerusalem…without even having realized you were being educated!

City Council Funding

There have been a few approvals for councils for funding to facilitate, aid and enhance certain neighborhoods in LA.  In this article, we take a look at two of the recent ones.

Last week, a committee meeting of the Los Angeles City Council approved the framework of a policy that will administer the monies and application of the districts that are financed by the residents.  With this, community projects in needy neighborhoods will get the much-needed funds for such programs. Supervising this will be the EIFDs (Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts).

What is most welcome about the funding is that according to the office of the Chief Legislative Analyst, an increase in residents’ property taxes will not occur.  instead, a slice of the annual property tax hike will into a board (three Mayor-appointed council members; two council-appointed members of the public) governed independent fund.

In other news, Skid Row will be getting a large amount of money for extra services.  $2.7 million has been earmarked for homeless services in the area following the finding of the 16 percent increase in population there.  That money will be put toward: storage center upgrades (for homeless to store belongings), two additional teams of outreach workers, water fountains and attended restrooms.

Skid Row is the address of the most amount of homeless people in LA.  While money is directed there a lot (the city received $85 million in emergency funding from the state in 2018), the problems there run deep.

Leading US Tech Hubs have LA Addresses

Employment opportunities are growing in the west coast more than any other part of the nation in the science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) industries. According to statistics from CBRE there was a 8.2 percent increase in this industry in LA – fastest of any US metropolitan area.

Furthermore, in the 2018 fiscal year, Los Angeles County received nearly $1.1 billion in funding from the National Institutes of Health.  This is the largest amount of all California counties. As such, growth in the number of employment opportunities in laboratory services and research industry has reached 11 percent.  90,000 people have gotten jobs in the sector in 2018.

There are also many tech companies that offer amazing employee benefits in the LA region as detailed in this recent article.

Transportation Enhancements?

LA – like many large metropolitan cities – is often on the lookout for enhancements in traffic/infrastructure issues.  Here we look at some of the latest possible advancements in this area, specifically at Bird, DASH and the Metro.

A seated design has been created for users of Bird Rides Inc. Passengers now have the option of sitting, standing and bringing along a friend. Known as the Bird Cruiser this new shared e-bike will be tested in a few places later this summer. It has a padded seat, pedal-assist/peg cruising options, hydraulic brakes, a 52V battery, LCD display and custom motor to handle inclines.

As Travis VanderZanden explained:

“To further accelerate progress on our mission to make cities more livable, we are providing additional environmentally friendly micro-mobility alternatives —including Bird Cruiser. Designed and engineered in California, Bird Cruiser is an inclusive electric-powered option that is approachable, easy-to-ride and comfortable on rough roads.” 

To improve transportation matters for students in the region, Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced his intention to offer unlimited DASH (downtown bus service) for free to community college students.  Starting in the fall as a one-year pilot program, it is hoped this will become permanent and increase student use of buses by 10 percent.  Funded by the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) the idea is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing transportation.

The Metro is making progress on an extension for the Purple Line.  Once completed it will mark the establishment of a four-mile subway between Beverly Hills and Koreatown. To mark the progress completed on this to date, officials gathered at LA’s La Brea Tar Pits Museum and Park to celebrate with a fun family event.

Los Angeles Cyclists

Bicycle path

Over $40 million in state funding has been earmarked for the creation of new bicycle and pedestrian groundwork.  The work will be carried in both South LA and the San Fernando Valley. $18.8 million of the funding will create three miles of paths for cyclists and walkers alongside the LA River, beginning at Reseda’s Vanalden Avenue to Burbank Boulevard.

According to Bob Blumenfield, a member of the LA council, these grants will go a long way toward transforming the river into: “an amazing linear park that all Angelenos can enjoy.” The ultimate goal is to create a biking path along all 51 miles of the river, stretching from Canoga Park to Long Beach.   Another council member, Marqueece Harris-Dawson referred to it as the: “largest known public investment in this neighborhood in generations.”

The other goal– known as Twenty-Eight By `28 Project – is the completion of 28 major transportation enterprises before the Olympics of 2028 to be held in LA.  Alongside the pedestrian/cycling paths, wheelchair/stroller access will improve with new ADA access ramps; urban shade will be added along the corridor and more.  As Harris Dawson explained:

“We are glad to see South Los Angeles getting the investment it deserves. This may be the largest known public investment in this neighborhood in generations. We are committed to making up for lost time. The project will transform this community into a safe and vibrant part of Los Angeles, while also improving mobility, creating a cleaner environment, and increasing access to transportation and jobs.”

Some Business Success Stories

Los Angeles has often gotten a reputation for being a difficult place to start a business.  Given that it was ranked among the 10 least affordable metro areas, rendering an increase in business costs, one could understand why they may be put off from starting a company in the region.   As such, in this article we point to a couple of recent good news stories for the business world in LA.

On its very first day trading on Wall Street, Beyond Meat (BYND)’s investors sent shares up to 163%.  With shares going opening at $46 and closing on May 2 at $65.75, this was a huge success for the vegetarian based food producer.  This resulted in a market value for the firm of $3.8b.

Over at investment management firm Aristotle, the firm’s Managing Director and Chief Innovation Officer Robert R. Womack Jr. was just named 2019’s Corporate CIO of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal.  He received this award for his “ tremendous accomplishments over the past few years, which included creating and leading Aristotle’s Business Solutions team during a period of rapid growth, executing a multi-year transformative initiative firmwide, and building Aristotle’s best-in-class technology platform to meet the needs of the company, its affiliates, and most importantly, Aristotle’s valued clients.”

And then there is Proper Hospitality co-founder and The Kor Group President Brian De Lowe who does not seem to be put off by doing business in California.  Later this year he is due to open two luxury hotels: one offering 270 rooms (and an 8,000 sq.ft rooftop) and the other with 148 rooms (and a 5,000 sq.ft rooftop), both in Santa Monica.