Coronavirus Updates: Jack Dorsey Donates $10M to Sean Penn COVID Fund; Cord Cutting Hits Peak; L.A.'s Reopening
Here are the latest headlines regarding how the novel coronavirus is impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest updates.
- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey donates $10 million to COVID-19 fund launched by Sean Penn
- Americans slash costs with record unemployment, chief among them cutting the cord
- L.A. County retailers open doors; as people head to trails and golf course this weekend
L.A. County retailers open doors; as people head to trails and golf course this weekend
Retailers across the region opened up their doors for the first time in weeks on Friday as Los Angeles County readied to open up trails, golf courses and parks over the weekend. Traffic trickled into downtown early in the morning after weeks of empty streets as Gov. Gavin Newsom eased stay-at-home orders. Retailers including clothing, toy, book and music stores can now operate with curbside services and with Mother's Day around the corner, the city's downtown flower district pulled in brisk business not seen for weeks.
"I am already feeling a renewed sense of hope and excitement," said county Supervisor Kathryn Barger during a mid-day briefing. The first phase of easing stay at home orders came as the Los Angeles County's public health department logged 883 new cases and 51 deaths. So far, 30,296 people in the county have tested positive and 1,468 have died.
And the region is far from returning to normal. On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to send every registered voter in California a mail-in ballot for the November presidential election. Although the election is not set to be a vote-by-mail only, those that want to vote in-person can. Guidelines on how in-person voting will work have yet to be hammered out.
Dining establishments remained pickup or delivery only.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey donates $10 million to COVID-19 fund launched by Sean Penn
Sean Penn is co-founder of CORE
Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey donated $10 million to the Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), the non-profit disaster relief group co-founded by actor Sean Penn a decade ago to provide relief to hurricane-ravaged Haiti. The donation came via Dorsey's Start Small initiative, which is bankrolling more COVID-19 testing across the U.S. and Navajo Nation. CORE stated it has set up a dozen COVID-19 test sites across California over the past five weeks and completed 100,000 tests for free through its partnerships.
"CORE is an inspiring force for good. Not only in what they're doing by increasing our testing capacity, but also by how they're doing it," Dorsey said in a statement. "The open-source approach and work to be a model for others is exactly what this country and world needs right now." Co-founded by CORE CEO Ann Lee, the nonprofit's testing sites have launched in Atlanta, Detroit and will soon serve New Orleans and the Navajo Nation, focused on serving underserved communities, as well as first responders and essential workers, the nonprofit stated.
Americans slash costs with record unemployment, chief among them cutting the cord
With unemployment on the rise due to the economic fallout of COVID-19, American consumers are slashing costs -- and that starts with cutting the cord. The pandemic has led to a new quarterly record when it comes to pay-TV subscriber losses, according to research firm MoffettNathanson in a report released Friday.
"In the context of over 30 million unemployment claims and estimates for minus 40 percent gross domestic product, it would be unseemly to resort to hyperbole to describe the carnage in pay TV in the first quarter," analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson wrote in the report. "Better that we simply report the numbers. Traditional pay TV subscriptions fell by a record 1.8 million in the first quarter, the worst quarterly result on record, bringing the annual rate of decline to 7.6 percent, also a record."
What's worse, the numbers are expected to drop off steadily in the coming months as sports programming is likely to all but vanish from television screens. Professional and college sports have been sidelined with most states not allowing stadiums full of fans, and leagues considering teams playing in front of empty seats. The report said the "tsunami of unemployment just beginning to hit as the quarter ended, all these numbers will get worse in the second quarter." The U.S. Department of Labor reported earlier in the day that unemployment is now at a record since being tracked in 1948, with payrolls plunging 20.5 million due to the pandemic.
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The Los Angeles City Council capped service charges third-party delivery services like Postmates, Grubhub, Uber Eats can pass on to restaurants at 15% of the purchase price during the pandemic following similar moves in San Francisco, Seattle and other major cities.
Restaurants have long complained about charges from the popular apps as high as 30% are eating away at their business, and those worries have grown during the pandemic, as owners find themselves relying more heavily on the services.
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RealNetworks is releasing a browser extension that automatically identifies celebrities and other public figures in YouTube and Netflix videos, using the same facial recognition technology that the company originally developed for use with live surveillance video at schools, casinos and airports."StarSearch by Real" doubles as a video navigation tool, pinpointing the places the celebs appear in the videos, and letting users quickly jump to those spots.
Venture capital has fueled billions of dollars in wealth but it has largely excluded black Americans. Only 1% of venture-funded startup founders are black and more than 80% of venture firms don't have a single black investor.
Blck VC, a group of young black investors and entrepreneurs are calling on the venture capitalist community to diversify their ranks and support the black community. Declaring Thursday, June 4th, a day of action, the group launched a campaign called "We Won't Wait."