Coronavirus Updates: Newsom Talks Businesses Opening; Wave Hosts Virtual Concerts; Film Release Rumblings
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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.

  • Newsom eyeing how to reopen businesses -- at least in parts of the state
  • No concerts? No problem. Wave to host virtual performance series with avatars
  • Trolls scores $100 million in revenue from streaming, bypassing shuttered theaters; AMC lashes out

    Newsom says eyeing how to reopen businesses -- at least in parts of the state

    live.staticflickr.com

    Los Angeles startups like Bird, ZipRecruiter, Shipsi and Tender Greens have been slammed in the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, being forced to layoff and furlough vast portions of their workforce. There was a glimmer of hope Tuesday that perhaps some businesses are getting closer to getting back to work. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that he believes the state is "weeks, not months, away from making meaningful modifications" to its current shelter-at-home restrictions.

    However, Newsom's announcement of a four-phase plan did not mention any specific dates in which non-essential business can open their doors. He said the state is examining data, and that additional progress needs to be made. During the same press conference, he said California education and health officials are examining even opening up school districts in certain parts of the state in late July or August. However, he is leaving many of the major decisions to regions of the state. Los Angeles County announced it surpassed 1,000 deaths on Tuesday from the coronavirus.

    No concerts? No problem. Wave to host virtual performance series with avatars 

    Wave

    Wave, an L.A.-based entertainment technology company, announced it will host a series of virtual concerts throughout the spring and summer. Performers will include John Legend, Tinashe, and Galantis, the last of whom will kick off the "One Wave" series on Thursday, April 30. "Through our proprietary technology and core gaming capabilities," said Wave CEO Adam Arrigo in a statement, "Wave can go beyond the traditional live streaming concerts and create artist avatars, virtual environments and interactive experiences that truly immerse audiences at the nexus of gaming and entertainment."

    "Performances will stream across various social media and gaming platforms, so fans can socialize and interact with the artists as they perform, cheer as part of a global avatar audience, voting on key show moments, play mini games, and socialize with each other," the statement continued. Wave, founded in 2016, claims that up to 500,000 fans have tuned in to its past virtual concerts. Proceeds from the One Wave series will go to non-profit organizations that could use a hand during the coronavirus pandemic, the company said.

    Trolls scores $100 million in revenue from streaming, bypassing shuttered theaters

    upload.wikimedia.org

    Universal Pictures' Trolls World Tour earned nearly $100 million in revenue over three weeks via streaming, The Wall Street Journal reported today. The sequel reportedly has already earned more revenue than the original Trolls film did over the five months of its traditional-style theatrical release. Theater owners have long fought for exclusive exhibition windows at the beginning of a film's release cycle, but with venues shuttered due to the coronavirus, studios have begun to look at streaming as an option to circumvent this entrenched arrangement.

    The encouraging figures (which may have been boosted by circumstances) could add momentum to the theater-window paradigm's further unraveling. But not if the theater owners have their say. AMC, the nation's largest theater chain, already threw down the gauntlet pledging to boycott all Universal movies: "Effectively (sic) immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East," AMC CEO and President Adam Aron said in a statement. "This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theatres reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat."

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    Snap’s RTO Plan Is Meant To Boost Productivity. It Could Do the Opposite

    Nat Rubio-Licht
    Nat Rubio-Licht is a freelance reporter with dot.LA. They previously worked at Protocol writing the Source Code newsletter and at the L.A. Business Journal covering tech and aerospace. They can be reached at nat@dot.la.
    Snap logo and hq
    Photo by rblfmr/ Shutterstock

    Snap is the latest major tech company to bring the hammer down on remote work: CEO Evan Spiegel told employees this week that they will be expected to work from the office 80% of the time starting in February.

    Per the announcement, the Santa Monica-based company’s full-time workers will be required to work from the office four or more days per week, though off-site client meetings would count towards their in-office time. This policy, which Spiegel dubbed “default together,” applies to employees in all 30 of the company's global offices, and the company is working on an exceptions process for those that wish to continue working remotely. Snap’s abrupt change follows other major tech firms, including Apple, which began its hybrid policy requiring employees to be in the office at least three days per week in September, and Twitter, which axed remote work completely after Elon Musk’s takeover (though he did temporarily close offices amid a slew of resignations in mid-November).

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    nat@dot.la

    'The Writing's on the Wall': Electric Batteries' Rapid Progress May Have Just Doomed Natural Gas Trucks

    David Shultz

    David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

    'The Writing's on the Wall': Electric Batteries' Rapid Progress May Have Just Doomed Natural Gas Trucks
    Image from Tesla

    Last month, when dot.LA toured the Hexagon Purus facility in Ontario, California, multiple employees bemoaned the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) ruling on renewable natural gas (RNG) as a hindrance to decarbonizing trucking-haul trucking. They argued that keeping RNG classified as a “near-zero emission” fuel prevented companies using financial incentives like the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project, which, as the name suggests, is only available to true zero-emission trucks. The effect, they said, was that the agency was missing an opportunity to accelerate the state’s transition away from diesel.

    But over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce that the EV company’s battery powered class 8 semi-truck had completed a 500-mile trip fully loaded (to the tune of 81,000 lbs). It now appears CARB’s refusal to classify renewable natural gas (RNG) as a zero-emission fuel source was ultimately the right decision.

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