PayPal Acquires Happy Returns, Bird Goes Public, and More LA Tech News

May 17, 2021
photo: shutterstock

In a lively week on the LA tech scene, companies of all sizes announced new growth-oriented moves. From venture capital raises to SPAC mergers, check out the latest tech news from the West Coast. This is the Built In LA weekly refresh.

Bird to go public via SPACThe electric scooter manufacturer announced its plans to merge with blank check company Switchback II Corporation, a move that’ll boost its valuation to $2.3 billion. It’s planning to launch new products as it continues to scale and is currently hiring for positions across all departments at its Santa Monica HQ. [Built In LA]

Happy Returns to be acquired by PayPalThe payments giant is making another e-commerce acquisition with the addition of this Santa Monica-based company that allows customers to make in-person returns for items they purchased online. The move aims to help untangle return logistics involved for merchants and bring more people into stores as the economy begins to reopen and recover. [CNBC]

LA Tech Quote of the Week

“We’re building out a science platform where we’re really pioneering new kinds of applications for our health, utilizing these plants in entirely new form factors that you really haven’t seen in supplements today. That’s what we’re trying to do in order to provide a [nutrient] delivery mechanism that provides maximum absorption and efficiency.” —Sara Cullen, CEO and founder of GEM

GEM pulled in $10.5MSpecializing in developing natural vitamin bites, this company closed on its seed funding round led by CircleUp Growth Partners. GEM uses plant-based ingredients to create dietary supplements for things like sleep support and overall health. The funding enables it to further its platform and expand its team across operations, product and marketing. [Built In LA]

Zenlayer pulled in $50MWith plans to advance its edge cloud tech and grow its global network of coverage, Zenlayer closed on its Series C round led by investors including Anatole Investment and Prospect Avenue Capital. Its tech aims to help companies accelerate their networks and deliver a better digital experience. The company previously raised a $30 million Series B in August of 2019. [FinSMEs]

Liquid Death raised $15MThe canned water company announced a partnership with Live Nation Entertainment to be the sole water provider at 120 venues and events across the country. Live Nation contributed to the company’s Series C raise alongside notable celebs Wiz Khalifa, Tony Hawk, Steve Aoki and others. [Built In LA]

Salted got $9MKamine Development Corporation led a seed funding round for this company that scales healthy fast food restaurants. With 17 delivery-based restaurants active now, Salted is hoping to expand to include 80 locations by the end of next year. The funding will help it expand and provide a digital-first format. [Built In LA]

Thrilling raised $8.5MThe company’s online marketplace platform specializes in upcycling fashion, and it provides SMB owners with tools to develop a personalized shopping experience for their brands. The platform is Black- and Asian-owned, and 95 percent of the merchants on its site are individuals from underrepresented communities. [AfroTech]

Curio secured $7MWith the capital from a seed funding round from investors including Fenbushi Capital, Kenetic Capital and Protocol Labs, Curio is planning to expand its operations and business reach. The platform delivers virtual collectibles to fans of the entertainment industry with non-fungible tokens (NFTs). [FinSMEs]

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