Coronavirus Updates: USC/UCLA Unite on 3-D Masks; Hollywood Preps for M&A

Coronavirus Updates: USC/UCLA Unite on 3-D Masks; Hollywood Preps for M&A

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.

Today:

  • USC, UCLA business school students jointly create a 3-D printed mask in Hack for Hope
  • Analyst predicts M&A shakeup as Hollywood grapples with COVID-19 fallout

    Analyst predicts M&A shakeup as Hollywood grapples with COVID-19 fallout

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    MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson made a rather dire prediction for the future of the entertainment industry: Prepare for Hollywood studios to consolidate through acquisitions as a way to fiscally survive the global coronavirus pandemic. With movie theaters shuttered (for the time being), the streaming world is now the most dominant channel to distribute content. "Heading into 2020, we had argued that the fundamental pillars of media were starting to crack," Nathanson wrote in the Friday report. "Now, we fear that they will crumble as customer behavior permanently shifts to streaming models. The impact should be felt in both the traditional TV ecosystem and the film industry as content producers re-examine the economics of producing linear TV content and feature films. As a result, when this is all done, the top streaming platforms – Netflix, Amazon and Disney – will emerge with the lion's share of scripted content creation." This could have major ramifications for studios like Sony Entertainment, which has long rumored to be on the auction block. Lionsgate, another smaller studio with both film and television assets, could also be eyed as a potential takeover target.

    USC, UCLA business school students jointly create a 3-D printed mask in Hack for Hope

    Traditional rivals USC Marshall School of Business and UCLA Anderson School of Management united earlier in April to fuel a search for solutions to problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The joint effort, an online hackathon called Hack for Hope, involved 600 students from both schools that created 89 projects aimed at helping out during the coronavirus pandemic. Taking away the big prize was a joint project between students at both schools that created 3-D printed, reusable respirator masks that can be easily disinfected. The students also made the print pattern available to others to replicate.

    "We were very impressed by the global scope of the teams; they included undergraduates, graduate students and alumni, along with professionals from business, technology, health care, edtech and entertainment," said Elaine Hagan, associate dean of entrepreneurial initiatives at UCLA Anderson School of Management and executive director of the school's Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. "Their ability to provide real-time solutions that have already benefited at-risk community members has given the organizers confidence that we have moved from hope to impact, for which participants should be commended."

    Each team was asked to submit a two-minute video describing the problem and their solution. Judges awarded a total of $38,500 in prize money to the most promising projects — specifically, to fund prototype development, proof of concept work or community outreach directed at students or workers in need of extra support at this time.

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    It's never been a better time to "murder your thirst."

    Seven months after raising more than $9 million in Series A funding, Santa Monica-based canned water startup Liquid Death has raised $23 million in Series B funding.

    The round was led by an unnamed consumer-focused family office and participated in by Convivialité Ventures, Fat Mike (NOFX), Pat McAfee, existing investor in Velvet Sea Ventures and others.

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    • Super Hi-Fi's AI transports the skills of a trained radio DJ to digital music playlists. Spotify's former head of research Tristan Jehan recently joined as an advisor
    • Founded in 2018 by veterans of the digital music business, the company's customers include iHeartMedia, Sonos, Peloton and Octave Music Group
    • Its leaders envision a new audio listening experience — where everyone has a personalized, curated playlist, with artful, AI-generated sequences and layers of music, voice clips (e.g. news and podcasts), and branded messaging that drives new revenues to the music industry

    Before the beat from "Baby Got Back" that underpins Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" fades to silence at the song's end, a sound clip pops up, right on rhythm and with a similar energy, telling the listener what streaming service they're listening to. A new track seamlessly takes the baton from the Minaj song before the brief branded message concludes, and continues the upbeat mood as a music bed for a rapid sequence of audio clips – first a voice imploring listeners to get hyped, then a word from Kanye about his interview with Beyoncé, a snippet from that interview, and another in-the-spirit advert – before blending into the intro of the next song, Kanye's "Stronger": all of it interwoven as if it were a single track produced in a recording studio.

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