Japanese technology entrepreneur Ken Fukazawa was in San Francisco in March when his geeky friends told him about something awesome coming up in Los Angeles.
Walt Disney Co. was opening its doors to selected start-ups for a summer of intensive mentoring. Fukazawa couldn't think of anything better to help his company grow than the brand that he had fallen in love with as a child. His three-person company, Tyffon, moved into Disney offices in June, ready to improve a suite of apps that add spooky animations to photos.
Funding, ideas and workers are flowing into the Southland at record levels as thousands of entrepreneurs across a broad range of industries leverage the Internet to reshape how people shop, chat, watch and play.
But over the last three years, Hollywood's embrace of start-ups such as Tyffon has become the most powerful magnet attracting technology entrepreneurs to set up in the Southland. In fact, Southern California is now the nation's fastest-growing hub for start-ups. The entertainment industry, with its mad rush into digital distribution and its reservoirs of cash, creative talent and glamour, is the key driver.
Netflix Inc., Pandora Media Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc. and others upended how content-makers do business, and now entertainment industry leaders are turning to start-ups to help them ride the waves of change.
"Anyone in a traditional business is getting a wake-up call," said Michael Yanover, head of business development at talent manager Creative Artists Agency. "You better lean in to the latest technology trend or you're going to be dead in the water."