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Senior reporter Ben Bergman has found that the layoffs at Bird may have been more severe than originally reported. He spoke with employees who were recently let go by way of a conference call. Hear their stories and listen to audio from the controversial call here.

Many are turning to platforms like Pray.com, Zoom and Youtube to hold services as houses of worship shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.. Senior reporter Tami Abdollah looks at the trend — and the opportunities venture capital firms are seeing.

Next Tuesday, we'll be bringing members from a number of faith communities together online to talk about the changes and the challenges and opportunities the new technology is providing. The virtual roundtable is free, but space is limited. Sign up here.

The Inside Account Bird's Brutal Layoffs (Exclusive)

"It should go down as a poster child of how not to lay people off, especially at a time like this."

Employees at Bird say the company swiftly responded to the biggest crisis in its short history more severely than it has publicly let on. In one conference call, 406 were let go — including at least half of its workers at Bird's Santa Monica headquarters. We spoke with some of those who were on the call. Read more and listen to the audio >>

Online Prayer Platforms Surge As the Pandemic Grows

Online prayer platforms have seen their usage numbers jump often in ways that have mimicked the global geographic spread of COVID-19. One Los Angeles group said a regular religious gathering of 1,500 ballooned to 600,000 online. Religious leaders have turned to Zoom, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and their own customized apps. Pastors and rabbis are becoming Instagram stars, while a sort of Netflix for Islamic studies is gaining traction. Read more >>

A New Talent Agency for Robot Actors

Why rely on humans to portray robot characters when you can now have the real thing? The Aigency, a new talent agency for robot actors, launched today. "We figured that the idea already sounds crazy enough to be an April Fools joke," said its cofounder, "so we are just embracing the timing." Read more >>

New Worries About L.A.'s Asymptomatic Covid-19 Carriers

As the number of novel coronavirus cases climbed past 3,500 in L.A. County, officials warned there's growing evidence asymptomatic carriers of the virus could be spreading it. Meanwhile, Disney announced it will donate hundreds of thousands of supplies to hospitals in California and elsewhere. Read more of today's coronavirus updates >>

Our Next Online Event: Religion's New Faith in Tech

Join us next Tuesday (4/7) at 11 a.m. PST for an interfaith virtual roundtable: "Religion's New Faith in Tech." How does one keep the faith when pestilence closes the doors of churches, mosques, and synagogues around the world? As the coronavirus crisis begins to intersect with high holidays such as Passover, Ramadan and Easter, religious leaders are turning to digital communication methods to maintain their communities.

Register here - space is limited!

Sign Up For Our Virtual Pitch Showcase 

We host our first virtual pitch showcase on Thursday, April 9th, and we're looking for Southern California startups in any industry to take part — in particular companies that can have a positive impact on the current COVID-19 pandemic. Submissions will be evaluated on a rolling basis. We'll let you know if you're chosen to pitch your startup. Nominate your company here >>

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