Coronavirus Updates: Saudis Invest in Live Nation; YouTube Holds Global Film Fest

Coronavirus Updates: Saudis Invest in Live Nation; YouTube Holds Global Film Fest

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.

  • Live Nation gets $500 million from Saudi investment fund as concerts remain in lockdown
  • YouTube to host 10-day film festival as partners like Cannes, Sundance shutter events

    Live Nation gets $500 million from Saudi investment fund as concerts remain in lockdown

    Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund acquired a nearly 6% stake in Live Nation, one of the world's largest events companies that is the parent of Ticketmaster. The investment is valued at about $500 million, and pushed Live Nation shares up roughly 10% to $42 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The Saudi Public Investment Fund is now the third-largest shareholder of the Los Angeles-based company, and comes at an uncertain time as the COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered concerts and sporting events around the world, according to a form it filed. The company's executives have also taken pay cuts during the past few months as a way to trim costs.

    The investment does not come without some controversy. Companies have been heavily criticized for accepting cash from companies tied to the Saudi royal family after the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was critical of the Saudi government.

    YouTube to host 10-day film festival as partners like Cannes, Sundance shutter events

    YouTube

    YouTube is partnering with 20 of the top oil festivals -- include Cannes, Tribeca, Berlin, Venice and Sundance -- to present a 10-day digital event that will stream awards contenders for free. We Are One: A Global Film Festival will run from May 29-June 7, and feature shorts, documentaries, and panels. The online event launches as most of the world's biggest film festivals, where many of the Academy awards contenders begin picking up traction with critics, have been canceled because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. YouTube, which operates out of a 41,000-square-foot aircraft hanger in Playa Del Ray, plans to use proceeds to benefit the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and local relief providers. "We are proud to join with our partner festivals to spotlight truly extraordinary films and talent, allowing audiences to experience both the nuances of storytelling from around the world and the artistic personalities of each festival," said Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux of the Cannes Film Festival in a statement.

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    Fred Turner, the 25-year-old founder of Curative Inc., is the man behind L.A.'s push to bring universal testing to the region. But, he has bigger plans.

    Turner, an Oxford dropout, just landed a deal with the Air Force to test military worldwide and he's now eyeing national expansion for his startup. By the end of this month, the company he started months ago is expected to pump out more than a million test kits a week.

    "We are a strange company because our goal is to essentially put ourselves out of business," Turner said.

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    After California voted to legalize recreational cannabis in late 2016, companies rushed in to be the first big mover in the multi-billion-dollar market. L.A.-based Genius Fund, run by two inexperienced twenty-somethings from well-to-do families and backed by a billionaire Russian oligarch, had the means and positioning to feed growing demand across the state, but things played out differently.

    In a rural town just across the California border from Reno, Nevada, in the northernmost portion of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Genius Fund set up an outpost in early 2019 called Nature's Holiday. There, the company planned to grow 1,000 acres of hemp — which executives wanted to be the largest such farm in the state — for use in CBD products, according to former employees, corporate documents and the company's website.

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