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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    E-Scooter Companies Are Quietly Changing Their Low-Income Programs in LA

    Maylin Tu
    Maylin Tu is a freelance writer who lives in L.A. She writes about scooters, bikes and micro-mobility. Find her hovering by the cheese at your next local tech mixer.
    E-Scooter Companies Are Quietly Changing Their Low-Income Programs in LA
    Photo by Maylin Tu

    When Lime launched in Los Angeles in 2018, the company offered five free rides per day to low-income riders, so long as they were under 30 minutes each.

    But in early May, that changed. Rides under 30 minutes now cost low-income Angelenos a flat rate of $1.25. As for the five free rides per day, that program ended December 2021 and was replaced by a rate of $0.50 fee to unlock e-scooters, plus $0.07 per minute (and tax).

    Lime isn’t alone. Lyft and Spin have changed the terms of their city-mandated low-income programs. Community advocates say they were left largely unaware.

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    Faraday Future Reveals Only 401 Pre-Orders For Its First Electric Car

    David Shultz

    David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

    Faraday Future Reveals Only 401 Pre-Orders For Its First Electric Car
    Courtesy of Faraday Future

    Electric vehicle hopeful Faraday Future has had no shortage of drama—from alleged securities law violations to boardroom shake-ups—on its long and circuitous path to actually producing a car. And though the Gardena-based company looked to have turned a corner by recently announcing plans to launch its first vehicle later this year, Faraday’s quarterly earnings report this week revealed that demand for that car has underwhelmed—to say the least.

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    Meet CropSafe, the Agtech Startup Helping Farmers Monitor Their Fields

    David Shultz

    David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

    Meet CropSafe, the Agtech Startup Helping Farmers Monitor Their Fields
    Courtesy of CropSafe.

    This January, John McElhone moved to Santa Monica from, as he described it, “a tiny farm in the absolute middle of nowhere” in his native Northern Ireland, with the goal of growing the crop-monitoring tech startup he founded.

    It looks like McElhone’s big move is beginning to pay off: His company, CropSafe, announced a $3 million seed funding round on Tuesday that will help it develop and scale its remote crop-monitoring capabilities for farmers. Venture firm Elefund led the round and was joined by investors Foundation Capital, Global Founders Capital, V1.VC and Great Oaks Capital, as well as angel investors Cory Levy, Josh Browder and Charlie Songhurst. The capital will go toward growing CropSafe’s six-person engineering team and building up its new U.S. headquarters in Santa Monica.

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