Last week, an obscure Venice-based startup disclosed in regulatory filings that it had raised nearly $10 million in funding and is seeking to raise $5 million more. Beyond a scarcely detailed website and several online job postings, little has been publicly disclosed about the company, known as Artema Labs.
And after dot.LA reached out to Artema Labs this week for comment about its newly raised funds, it soon took down its website. The company did not respond to multiple requests to participate in this article.
Here’s what is known about Artema Labs: Based out of a posh residence in Venice, the startup appears to be focused around the blockchain-enabled realm of Web3. Several job listings indicate that the company is working primarily around NFTs and the entertainment sector, such as a project manager role that asks for experience managing clients “especially in the creative and entertainment industries.” There are also a handful of engineering roles revolving around the blockchain and NFT spaces, including a vice president of software engineering.
According to SEC filings and the startup’s now-defunct website, Artema Labs is led by CEO Madhu Vijayan, who founded and leads Los Angeles private equity fund CalibratedGROUP, according to his LinkedIn page. Vijayan also cut his teeth as an artist; served as CEO of a CRM software firm; founded a company that “creat[ed] emerging market strategies for entertainment firms” like Universal Studios and Sony; and consulted for politicians like former Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt.
Joining Vijayan at Artema Labs is Markus Jakobsson, whose LinkedIn page describes him as “chief scientist” at a “company in stealth mode.” Jakobsson brings a background in cybersecurity and previously held positions at TikTok parent company ByteDance, Qualcomm and PayPal. Also in the braintrust are executives Ajay Kapur, an associate provost for creative technologies at the California Institute of the Arts, and David Agnew, an L.A. entertainment lawyer.
While Artema Labs’ designs on Web3 remain unclear, it’s not surprising that the blockchain realm has given rise to yet another venture in L.A.’s startup scene. From investment managers to crypto payments processors to digital collectibles platforms, more local startups than ever are raising money to fund their blockchain-related operations.
Beyond Southern California, Web3 startups are responsible for some of the largest recent venture-backed funding rounds. This week alone saw blockchain platforms Polygon and Alchemy raise $450 million and $200 million, respectively, from major Silicon Valley VC firms like Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
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