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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Fresh off of closing a $50 million round that valued the company at $300 million, Triller – headquartered in L.A. and with offices in New York, London and Paris – is now seeking $250 million at a valuation of $1.25 billion, according to executive chairman Bobby Sarnevesht. The short-form, user-generated video sharing app's momentum has picked up lately thanks to increased usage during the pandemic and the troubles of TikTok.
Triller executive chairman Bobby Sarnevesht.
Pegasus Tech Ventures chief executive Anis UzzamanAnis Uzzaman
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As patients look beyond doctors' offices for health, the $4.5 trillion wellness industry is booming.
Technology and social media has made wellness services from nutritional foods to community clinics more accessible as providers rethink their approach to how they brand themselves.
These are among the forces transforming the booming industry Upfront Ventures Partner Kevin Zhang, Sequoia Consulting Group Wellbeing Director Kaleana Quibell and Remedy Place CEO & founder Dr. Jonathan Leary told dot.LA during a strategy session on Tuesday.
Kevin Zhang, Partner at Upfront Ventures
Kevin Zhang, Partner at Upfront Ventures<p>Kevin Zhang is a Partner at Upfront Ventures, the largest and longest-serving venture capital firm in Los Angeles with $2B in assets under management. Kevin focuses on healthcare, life sciences and interactive media. Prior to Upfront, he worked at The Boston Consulting Group, where he advised on strategy and operations for technology, automotive and healthcare clients in the US and Asia, and Cotiviti, where he built SaaS products for healthcare payors and providers. Kevin studied Biology at Harvard College.</p>
Kaleana Quibell, Wellbeing Director, Sequoia Consulting Group
Kaleana Quibell, Wellbeing Director at Sequoia Consulting Group<p>As the Wellbeing Director at Sequoia Consulting Group, Kaleana is responsible for the needs assessment, vendor selection, and rollout strategy of competitive benefit and wellbeing programs for some of the world's most innovative tech companies. This approach includes a holistic analysis of employees' needs and gaps in care, particularly focusing on the physical, emotional, financial and social wellbeing of the employee and their family.<br><br>Kaleana has over 10 years experience in the Total Rewards sector, with a background in recruiting & onboarding, benefits & human resources, and employee wellbeing program design. With BA degrees in Psychology and Communications, she also earned a MA degree in Organizational Psychology, focusing on workplace engagement and motivation. She was humbled to be recognized as one of EBA's 2017 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising this year for her role in Sequoia's innovative approach to holistic wellbeing with her clients, and has spoken on various panels and conferences including SXSW.</p>
Dr. Jonathan Leary, CEO & Founder at Remedy Place<p>Over the past 9 years, Dr. Leary has pioneered cutting-edge techniques that optimize the body's natural ability to heal. From day one, his groundbreaking private practice has had a wait list that includes a wide range of celebrities, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, and executives.</p><p>In addition to his private practice, Dr. Leary is a highly sought after global health and wellness speaker who's expertise has been featured in a wide range of prestigious media outlets, from Forbes and ABC to Vogue. He has given corporate wellness talks for Fortune 100 companies, such as Delta Airlines, as well as hosted retreats at the Cannes Film Festival and across the globe.</p>
Rachel Uranga, Senior Reporter at dot.LA
Rachel Uranga, Senior Reporter at dot.LA<p>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.</p>
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