Los Angeles Business Journal

Io/LA Startups Find New Home

By Natalie Jarvey Thursday, March 28, 2013

With the forthcoming closure of Hollywood co-working space io/LA, many of the startups working out of the office have already found new homes.

FilmBreak, which is developing online marketing and distribution services for filmmakers, has moved to CrossCampus in Santa Monica along with fellow startup Rhovit, an online entertainment marketplace. A handful of other teams are also apparently working out of the CrossCampus space.

“In the short few weeks that we’ve been there, we absolutely love it,” said Darren Marble, co-founder and chief executive of FilmBreak. “But truthfully, io/LA was a really special place. The connections we made there were invaluable.”

The Business Journal reported Wednesday that io/LA will close its doors when its lease ends after this week.

Io/LA was founded last April as an L.A. outpost for San Francisco startup program i/o Ventures, which was started by Aber Whitcom, Ashwin Navin and others. Whitcom, a co-founder of Myspace, spearheaded the creation of io/LA with actor-producers Chris Gartin and Donovan Leitch.

The part co-working space, part startup incubator, part café occupied the bottom floor of a Hollywood Boulevard office building. It subleased the space, which doubled as an event venue, from WeWork, a shared-office service based in New York.

Whitcom told the Business Journal that io/LA turned over its space to WeWork. Io/LA companies that choose to stay in Hollywood will now rent their work areas from WeWork.

“All of the members have the option to stay in their current environment,” he wrote in an email. “Some have moved on but many have decided to stay in the current space.”

The Business Journal has obtained a copy of an email that Gartin sent to io/LA members last week informing them of the shutdown. In the letter, Gartin said WeWork would begin signing up tenants for its co-working service without interruption.

Gartin also addressed io/LA’s decision to close.

“As you know, Ashwin and Aber both have wonderfully successful companies with which they are pretty occupied, and I have an acting career on hold, kids (my two little startups) and other personal projects pulling at me,” he wrote in the email. “It has become clear to us that this is the best decision for the time being.”

But sources familiar with the situation said WeWork also weighed into the decision. The company may have been frustrated that io/LA was never able to raise the funds to launch a successful incubator program.

Whitcom, however, denied those claims.

“The incubator program has always been self-funded by the partners,” he wrote in an email. “The main reason was that all of the partners became too busy with other projects to contribute in a meaningful way. The program wouldn't be as successful as it has in the past if we weren't hands on with the companies.”

WeWork took over part of io/LA’s ground floor space last month to build out an office for one of its tenants.

Marble said the change affected io/LA’s collaborative environment.

“It sucked all the creativity and community out of the space,” he said. “It was extraordinarily frustrating to all the io/LA community members.”