Coronavirus Impact on SoCal Becomes More Apparent as Global Markets Remain Uneasy
Rachel Uranga covers the intersection of business, technology and culture. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.
As the novel coronavirus whipsawed global markets and shut down Italy, its toll on Southern California was becoming more apparent this week with the first possible case of community spread reported, hand sanitizer in short supply at local stores and businesses are asking employees to work from home.
At the Port of Los Angeles - long considered the gateway to Asia - shipments were expected to be down 25% and the dockworkers union and their employers sent out a bulletin to longshoreman about watching for symptoms and dealing with ships from China.
Snap confirmed it will live stream its partner summit online due to coronavirus threat. The move follows other tech conferences that have been called off, including Facebook's F8 and Google I/O. Quibi has canceled its April 5 red carpet launch event "out of an abundance of caution." The streaming service, run by Jeffrey Katzenberg and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, was scheduled to launch the following day.
And over the weekend, Cal State Long Beach announced in a campus email that 10 of its students and two advisors were in self-quarantine after attending a large event in Washington D.C the weekend before in which three people tested positive for COVID-19.
USC is in the midst of testing online only classes in the case it needs to be shut down and Cal State Long Beach spokesman Gregory Woods said officials have discussed moving instruction for the campus of nearly 37,000 students online.
"As of right now, our policy team is taking advice from local health officials and the chancellor's office," he said.
So far, 16 people have tested positive for the virus in Los Angeles County, top health official Barbara Ferrer reported on Monday.
But the rapidly-spreading virus is now in more than 35 states, as the number of known infections surpassed 500. Four GOP congressmen are in self-quarantine, after being exposed to somebody with the virus. In the tech hub of Seattle, Amazon and other tech companies are ordering their employees to stay home.
"We have seen lots of different closures mostly from tech and office jobs," said Kasey Edwards, the chief executive and co-founder of Helpr, an app that helps connect working parents with child care.
Venture capital firm M13 on Tuesday scheduled a conference call about "best practices for startup founders" managing teams that work from home. "In our new world order, working remotely is becoming the new norm," the company said in an email. The company's head of talent, Matt Hoffman, will lead the discussion later this week.
The startups' booking service also works with companies to provide credit to workers when a family member, like grandpa, takes care of a child. The bookings for that service jumped from 7% to 14% in the last week as tech companies asked their employees to work from home and more parents become concerned about who is taking care of their children. "We have been getting a lot of inquiries," she said.
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It's never been a better time to "murder your thirst."
Seven months after raising more than $9 million in Series A funding, Santa Monica-based canned water startup Liquid Death has raised $23 million in Series B funding.
The round was led by an unnamed consumer-focused family office and participated in by Convivialité Ventures, Fat Mike (NOFX), Pat McAfee, existing investor in Velvet Sea Ventures and others.
- Super Hi-Fi's AI transports the skills of a trained radio DJ to digital music playlists. Spotify's former head of research Tristan Jehan recently joined as an advisor
- Founded in 2018 by veterans of the digital music business, the company's customers include iHeartMedia, Sonos, Peloton and Octave Music Group
- Its leaders envision a new audio listening experience — where everyone has a personalized, curated playlist, with artful, AI-generated sequences and layers of music, voice clips (e.g. news and podcasts), and branded messaging that drives new revenues to the music industry
Before the beat from "Baby Got Back" that underpins Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" fades to silence at the song's end, a sound clip pops up, right on rhythm and with a similar energy, telling the listener what streaming service they're listening to. A new track seamlessly takes the baton from the Minaj song before the brief branded message concludes, and continues the upbeat mood as a music bed for a rapid sequence of audio clips – first a voice imploring listeners to get hyped, then a word from Kanye about his interview with Beyoncé, a snippet from that interview, and another in-the-spirit advert – before blending into the intro of the next song, Kanye's "Stronger": all of it interwoven as if it were a single track produced in a recording studio.
Super Hi-Fi's customers include iHeartMedia,