Coronavirus Updates: Milken Conference Postponed Again, L.A. County Hits Grim New Record

Coronavirus Updates: Milken Conference Postponed Again, L.A. County Hits Grim New Record

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.


  • Los Angeles heads into week after largest one-day increase in COVID-19 deaths
  • Milken Global Conference postponed again
  • Skip grocery shopping this week, L.A. health officials warn as they prepare for onslaught

    Officials urge residents to skip shopping this week as deaths climb to 147, cases to 6,300 

    Bracing for a wave of coronavirus cases, Los Angeles county health officials asked people to skip shopping this week. The plea case as the fast-moving COVID-19 claimed another 15 people, bringing total deaths to 147 in the county. So far county health officials have logged 6,360 cases of COVID-19 with 420 new ones reported on Monday.

    "We will see many more cases over the next few weeks," said Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director during a daily press conference. "If you have enough supplies in your home, this would be the week to skip shopping altogether. if you can arrange for medications and groceries to be delivered, this would be the week to put this in place. "

    Ferrer also said she's encouraging grocery stores and pharmacies to offer free delivery services for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions because they have such a high risk of dying from COVID-19

    She urged the elderly and those at high risk to not go out except for medical appointments. "There is a lot of virus circulating in our community and you are not safe if you go out," she said.

    Ferrer said last week that she expected new cases to jump to about 1,000 a day in the coming weeks.

    Milken Global Conference postponed again

    The Milken Institute announced Monday it was again pushing back the 2020 Milken Institute Global Conference, to October 12-15, 2020.

    It is another indication of how rapidly circumstances have changed over the last few weeks. Less than a month ago, Milken said the conference would be moved to July. It was originally scheduled to take place in May.

    The gathering, which attracts 4,000 attendees from more than 70 countries to Beverly Hills, normally takes over the entire Beverly Hilton – from the same massive ballroom where the Golden Globes are held to dozens of smaller rooms.

    Had it been held in July, the conference would likely have to have been more spread out. Milken staff were exploring different sites in Los Angeles since it was not clear how much of the Hilton was already booked. But with the event pushed back to October, the event can now once again take over the hotel.

    Of course, it remains very much an open question whether large scale events can take place at all by October. But Milken would be loath to cancel its Global Conference since it is a major source of the nonprofit's annual revenue.

    "The global crisis demonstrates the need for individuals, organizations, and nations to bridge divides and work together to find solutions to—and be better prepared for—economic and health challenges like those we are facing now and in years to come," Michael Klowden, CEO of the Milken Institute, said in a statement.

    Los Angeles heads into week after largest one-day increase in COVID-19 deaths

    Los Angeles County hit a grim new record over the weekend after 28 deaths were reported on Saturday from the novel coronavirus, the largest one-day increase since the outbreak slammed California. This will likely be front-and-center when California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hold respective briefings later Monday,

    As of Sunday, there were 15 additional deaths and 683 new cases -- bringing the county's totals to 132 deaths and 5,950 cases. "We have some very difficult days ahead and now is the time for all of us to redouble our physical distancing efforts and look after our neighbors, friends, and families who may be at the highest risk for serious illness from COVID-19," Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said in a statement.

    🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
    Image Source: Paramount

    Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

    🔦 Spotlight

    Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

    Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

    The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.

    🤝 Venture Deals

    LA Companies

    • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

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    😊🚘 Rivian's $5 Billion Lifeline

    🔦 Spotlight

    Volkswagen announced on Tuesday a significant investment of up to $5 billion in Rivian, a struggling electric truck manufacturer known for its vehicles' distinctive smiley-face design reminiscent of Volkswagen's iconic Beetle. This partnership marks a unique collaboration between the world's second-largest automaker and a startup grappling with profitability challenges akin to those faced by Tesla. Volkswagen's infusion of $1 billion initially, potentially rising to $5 billion pending regulatory approval, underscores its strategic pivot towards enhancing its electric vehicle (EV) software capabilities, an area where analysts believe the company has lagged.

    For Rivian, which has received acclaim for its electric trucks and SUVs but struggles with production ramp-up and financial losses, the investment offers crucial financial backing. The company plans to utilize Volkswagen's expertise in manufacturing, leveraging the German automaker's annual production of nearly 10 million vehicles. This alliance aims to bolster Rivian's efforts to launch new models like the R2 midsize SUV and complete its Georgia factory, paused earlier this year to conserve funds. Rivian's stock surged upwards of 40% following the announcement, reflecting investor optimism in the company's future prospects.

    Despite their differing corporate cultures—Volkswagen's traditional, structured approach contrasted with Rivian's agile tech startup ethos—the CEOs of both companies expressed mutual admiration and shared goals during the partnership announcement. The collaboration is expected to yield EV software solutions benefiting Volkswagen's various brands, potentially including Audi and Porsche, while allowing Rivian to maintain its brand identity and separate vehicle marketing strategies. This strategic partnership between Volkswagen and Rivian not only promises to revolutionize the electric vehicle market but also highlights the potential for collaboration between established automakers and innovative startups in Southern California, where Rivian is based. Here’s to hoping these smiling cars will balance out some of the inevitable LA road rage.

    🤝 Venture Deals

    LA Companies

    • HeyGen, a startup that allows users to generate videos with AI-created avatars that can lip-sync to provided audio, making it easier for businesses to create engaging video content, raised a $60M Funding Round at a $500M post-money valuation. The deal was led by Benchmark, with Conviction, Thrive Capital, and Bond Capital also stepping up. - learn more
    • Pomerium, a startup that provides a secure access platform that dynamically verifies user identities to ensure authorized access to applications and services, raised a $13.8M Series A round led by Benchmark and including previous investors Bain Capital, Haystack, and SNR. - learn more
    • Etched, a maker of transformer-specialized AI chips, raised a $120M Funding Round. - learn more
    • Rocketlane, a customer onboarding platform, raised a $24M Series B co-led by 8VC, Matrix Partners India, and Nexus Venture Partners. - learn more
    • Sift, a developer of unified observability solutions for hardware sensor data, raised a $17.5M Series A led by GV. - learn more
    • LOST iN, a travel media brand, raised a $4M Seed Round led by MaC Venture Capital. - learn more

    LA Venture Funds

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