By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
If you think the most painfulthing about a Sunday morning is nursing a hangover, then you haven’t awakened from four hours of sleep to battle it out in the rain with a bunch of Tech Paintball fanatics who may or may not have been Navy Seals.
Providing much-needed respite from the nonstop conferences, mixers and galas that populate L.A. Tech Month, the L.A. Tech PAIN(t)ball war between Team Tequila and Team Black at Hollywood Sports Paintball in Bellflower was organized by Lincoln Group founder Paige Craig and Black Card Circle Foundation founder Lotay Yang in order to vent frustration, fuel lighthearted rivalries and inspire some dirty social media–related fun.
The standoffs, barbs and endless jokes about “balls” between the teams were traded on Facebook, Twitter and Lalawag.com months before anyone got anywhere near a gun (or, in paintball speak, a “marker”). The team roster was a Tech who’s who that included Lalawag power couple Laurie and Sean Percival, Rubicon Project’s Nicole Jordan and BarCampLA’s Chris Darbro, as well as Digg.com’s Aubrey Sabala, who flew in from San Francisco with Gerard Ramos and Chad Seeger of Avenue Labs specifically to attend the event. More than half of the 35-plus participants showed up in their own camo, and we’re not talking skirts and scrunchies here.
Speaking as a paintball n00b, watching the mandatory Hollywood Sports Paintball Rules! safety video does not prepare you for the challenges and stress of actual combat in the mud, especially if it’s against people who have put in their 10,000 hours playing first-person shooter video games. The aforementioned Sabala got so stressed she had to pop a Xanax, and this reporter got shot in the face, twice. The video also doesn’t mention the pain and welts that come afterward, popping up like bites from the world’s most bloodthirsty mosquito, and so ubiquitous that they inspired their own Web site.
Ranging from “Apocalypse” to “Mad Max,” the movie set–inspired paintball fields played host to the ultimate team-building exercise. And the competition was intense, with military-level strategizing from both teams and cutthroat tactics culled everywhere from the boardroom to the gadgetspace (former Marine Craig wore a “Paintball Cam” throughout the scrimmage).
The welts nursed by many of the troops were not in vain, however; proceeds from the $60 tickets were divided evenly between the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and the Black Card Circle Foundation. As my fellow defector Jordan put it (and yes, I sat out the last part of the game like a wuss, preferring to munch the mango slices and granola provided by Scott Schroeder of Scottysnacks), the “good cause means I don’t mind paying $60 to play for 10 minutes and realize I don’t like paintball.”
How to Survive the Burst of the Hot Air Bubble Machine
Los Angeles and the Web business both boil down to how well you manage traffic, but in start-up culture there are no clear-cut metrics that involve getting from Hollywood to Westwood in under 20 minutes. Startonomics’ promise of a strategic approach to success with which to battle the hype surrounding the current economic contraction motivated me to spend a good part of my Friday morning stuck in a bottleneck on Wilshire and Robertson, trying to reach the daylong conference at UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Founded in October 2008 by Dealmaker Media CEO and Silicon Valley rainmaker Debbie Landa, Startonomics has found a home in L.A. — which speaks volumes about how much the technology industry is thriving here. If the 350 people in attendance all want to start or grow their companies, whither the econocalypse?
“I know what it’s like to be sitting in the audience with an idea,” says Jasmine Antonick, management consultant at Dealmaker Media, over the click-clacking of fingers on keyboards, the audience a sea of MacBooks and iPhones.
“I put together these conferences,” Landa says, “because I wanted a place where you could come and seal the deal.”
It’s true that with all the tech-world mixers and drinks and charity balls, it’s easy to forget that people are here to make money. Even though few attendees passed up the open bar and “make your own” burritos at the Mediatemple after-party, most came for sustenance of a different sort, absorbing real content on how to make their businesses more profitable.
“L.A. is all about making money,” attendee Alex Gonzalez says. “It’s much more advertising-friendly and has a drastically different philosophy from the Valley.” Antonick agrees: “All these big media companies — down here they’re all chasing the buck.”
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