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Tech & Innovation

DTLA Works: Tech

Tuesday September 10, 2019

Downtown Los Angeles has reclaimed its status as the economic and cultural center of Southern California, and is emerging as a premier destination for tech companies and talent.

An incredibly vibrant creative community and an unrivaled diversity of related industries has produced an entrepreneurial environment that attracts dynamic organizations and spins off new ventures. Proximity to Silicon Beach is helping DTLA position itself as San Francisco has to Silicon Valley – a complementary and symbiotic hub of innovation, creativity, and commerce.

Companies in a range of verticals, at various stages of growth, are flourishing Downtown; Gaming, Social Media, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and IoT are just a few. The significant presence of established industries like fashion, design, architecture, transportation, entertainment, and music attracts, supports and catalyzes related tech ventures.

Fast-growing companies like Spotify are drawn by the mix of pioneers like Output – maker of innovative music software – and majors like Warner Music. High-profile Virgin Hyperloop is inventing the future of transportation amidst the post-industrial vibe of DTLA’s Arts District, while Syncromatics provides real-time technology to keep big city transit systems running on schedule from their retro-chic office in the PacMutual Building. Newcomers like Evite, the world’s leading digital invitation platform; netmarble, the #1 online game publisher; Farfetch, a global technology platform for the luxury fashion industry; and TubeScience, an online video company using big data for clients like Facebook, all enjoy the benefits of Class A office space in the city center. Paving the way for these companies are locally-sourced startups like NationBuilder, one of the top political software tools in North America, and Two-Bit Circus, creator of virtual reality and immersive experiences, which recently launched a groundbreaking “micro-amusement park” in DTLA.

A growing network of accelerators and incubators is also supporting the local tech ecosystem. The LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI) – ranked one of the world’s top 10 business incubators – anchors DTLA’s emerging Cleantech Corridor. Grid 110 and Bixel Exchange, in partnership with the City of LA and the LA Chamber of Commerce respectively, offer programs, networking, and office space for start-ups. DTLA is also home to the LA CoMotion Expo – a “global laboratory of future mobility.” This dynamic mix of organizations is reinforced by a broad range of co-working spaces, including global brands like WeWork, national players like Industrious and Convene, and local ventures like CrossCampus and CTRL Collective.

Access to talent is one of the key reasons tech companies are choosing DTLA. The Downtown population is exploding, with demographics right in their sweet spot: young, highly educated, creative, and entrepreneurial. 72% are between 18-44, 80% have at least four years of college, and 42% work in a creative field or are an independent entrepreneur. For these people, DTLA’s unparalleled cultural offerings, and its superior housing and mobility options, make it as appealing and practical as it is aspirational and idealistic. Online coupon tool Honey recently moved to DTLA with this in mind, stating, “A lot of young employees want to live in this area and take part in its evolution – the tech world really wants to be here.”

And the Downtown population is only part of the story. Los Angeles is famously sprawling, but DTLA is centrally located and highly accessible. The Greater Downtown area includes popular neighborhoods in all directions, such as Silver Lake, Boyle Heights, Koreatown, and South LA. As the hub of LA’s rapidly expanding transit system, Downtown’s reach extends much further, with a labor pool of over 3 million workers within commuting distance.

Talent is as much about quality as quantity, and DTLA competes strongly on that front as well, with major educational institutions attracting a constant flow of graduates, research faculty, thought-leaders and industry experts. Internationally recognized institutions like the University of Southern California (USC) and Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), along with regional leaders like Cal State LA and LA Trade Tech, provide a solid workforce foundation in DTLA. In addition to all the upcoming talent, Downtown has a robust base of established professionals in fields like finance, law, engineering, media and marketing that provide senior management and leadership as industries cross-pollinate and spawn new opportunities. This highly skilled talent pool was the key driver for Evite’s relocating to DTLA – their CEO called it a “strategic move” that will allow them to “expand operations and continue to attract the best talent in this dynamic market.”

For all the tangible reasons why DTLA is attracting tech companies, there are less quantifiable, but equally compelling factors making it the place to be. It’s buzzing with creative energy and a spirit of experimentation and collaboration; tapped into the zeitgeist and poised at the nexus of some of today’s most fascinating opportunities and challenges. For nimble, solutions-oriented companies, this makes it the perfect sandbox to build and test disruptive technologies. And with its high profile as one of the world’s fastest growing urban centers, creative ideas that launch here are widely seen, become buzzworthy, and prosper.

DTLA has a bold vision of its own future and its role as a leader in the next wave of urbanism. It is at the forefront of culture and commerce, and that is fertile ground for the tech industry’s imagination, innovation, and investment. The combination of Tech + DTLA is dynamic and exciting to be part of, so we hope you’ll join us and #MakeItYours!