Coronavirus Updates: Olympics Postponed, SpaceX Delays Launch, L.A. County Racks Up More Cases
The coronavirus pandemic's emergence has changed the world around us. Conferences have been cancelled, travel has been severely restricted, and working from home has become the norm. But less clear is the scale of the economic impact and how companies should be reacting. 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.
Olympics Postponed, Financial Strain for NBC
A joint statement from Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee president early Tuesday revealed that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed. The games are now set to occur sometime after 2020, but not later than summer of 2021. Among the collateral damage is NBC, which owns the event's media rights through 2032. Back in January when NBCUniversal (owned by Comcast) unveiled Peacock, its new direct-to-consumer (D2C) streaming service, the company highlighted to investors its ability to take "full advantage of the massive promotional opportunity of the Tokyo Olympics" when the service becomes available to non-Comcast subscribers on July 15. Rather than attracting customers by flying in the Olympics tailwind, Peacock must now rely more heavily on its distinguishing feathers, which include its exclusive content and ad-supported business model. It will join an increasingly competitive D2C market, leaving onlookers to wonder how smoothly this bird will be able to fly.
L.A. County Reports First Death of Person Under 18, Coronavirus Cases Surge Over 48 Hours
Los Angeles County health officials reported on Tuesday four more coronavirus deaths including one person under the age of 18 from Lancaster, bringing total fatalities to 11 in the region.
"COVID-19 does not discriminate by age, race or income level, and what we are seeing in places like New York is indicative of what we should prepare to experience here," said Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director in a statement.
Another 128 new cases of the fast-moving virus were also reported as the total in the county racked up to 662 cases. Nearly 40% of the cases have been reported in the last 48 hours. Among the cases, about 18% of those testing positive have had to be hospitalized at some point.
Brentwood and West Hollywood both have the highest number of cases confirmed with 31 each. Officials have been identifying cases by neighborhood and communities of 25,000 or more as part of their daily update of the pandemic, but they note that there are positive cases across the entire county and the public should not think one location is safer than the other. "While public health is doing everything possible to mitigate the impact of this disease in our community, we can only flatten the curve if everyone takes social distancing seriously and adheres to all isolation and quarantine orders issued by our health officer," she said.
SpaceX Launch Put on Hold
Hawthorne-based SpaceX has had to delay a rocket launch for the first time because of the Coronavirus. The Air Force's 45th Space Wing confirmed to Techcrunch Tuesday that SpaceX's SAOCOM launch has been put on "indefinite" hold because of the current crisis. The launch was scheduled to take place March 30, but Vandenberg has declared a public health emergency and the Air Force is limiting access to essential personnel and providing only essential services. It is not clear how many launches will be impacted by the virus. Techcrunch noted that SpaceX successfully launched 60 satellites last week. No COVID-19 cases have been reported on the base.
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Thanks to a sizzling startup scene and a receding pandemic, Los Angeles investors are feeling more optimistic this spring than they did at the end of last year.
They are expecting robust hiring, increasing valuations and a quick recovery of the U.S. economy, according to the dot.LA VC Sentiment Survey, a quarterly poll of the top VCs in Los Angeles.
Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are a novel form of ownership that could rejigger the financial landscape for creators. Even if the market for some of them proves frothy, this blockchain-based technology presents a unique way for artists to make money and engage their fans. With experimentation already underway, the gates are open for them to do what they do best: get creative.
Illmind is auctioning 10 NFTs linked to audio files he created that owners can use royalty free.
Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake