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

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

    c0.wallpaperflare.com

    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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    Snap Mandates Employees Work From the Office Four Days a Week

    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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