Coronavirus Updates: SoCal Tech Joins Forces for Hospitals; Elon Musk's Threat to Leave California

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:

  • Elon Musk's tweet storm catches the attention of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
  • How L.A. Startups Are Collaborating to Get Aid To Local Hospitals

How L.A. Startups Are Collaborating to Get Aid To Local Hospitals

Rachel Uranga

Jiake Liu is the founder of a startup outdoor furniture company, but lately he feels like he's running a second company one that's helping supply local hospitals with thousands of protective masks and, in the process, rallying Los Angeles' tech community.

Liu started SoCal Tech for Hospitals in early March with the goal of raising $60,000 to purchase 30,000 masks for hospitals facing shortages. He's now helped raise nearly $200,000, delivered 50,000 hospital-grade masks and is looking to up the ante with the region's vast tech community to do good beyond the pandemic.

Over the past months, he's enrolled some of the most well-known startups in town to pitch in for the logistical effort of distributing the masks. After the workday ends, Liu jumps on the phone with other founders to orchestrate the effort.

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Elon Musk's tweet storm catches the attention of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

upload.wikimedia.org

Elon Musk's Twitter rant over the weekend that he wants to move Tesla and SpaceX out of California so he can resume production prompted some notable responses.

California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D) responded to the post by tweeting "F*ck Elon Musk." And on Monday morning, the billionaire entrepreneur got some support from Washington. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that he agrees with Musk, calling him "one of the biggest employers and manufacturers in California, and California should prioritize doing whatever they need to do to solve health issues so that he can open quickly and safely."

Musk has been a vocal critic of lockdown measures in California, which he has called "de facto house arrest." He threatened to move his companies to Nevada or Texas on Saturday after an Alameda County Health officer said she wants Tesla's Freemont factory to remain closed for the time being as the state slowly reopens manufacturing sites. The tweet storm came just a few days after Musk vowed to sell all of his homes and most of his belongings in an effort to obtain what he called "freedom."

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The Los Angeles City Council capped service charges third-party delivery services like Postmates, Grubhub, Uber Eats can pass on to restaurants at 15% of the purchase price during the pandemic following similar moves in San Francisco, Seattle and other major cities.

Restaurants have long complained about charges from the popular apps as high as 30% are eating away at their business, and those worries have grown during the pandemic, as owners find themselves relying more heavily on the services.

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RealNetworks is releasing a browser extension that automatically identifies celebrities and other public figures in YouTube and Netflix videos, using the same facial recognition technology that the company originally developed for use with live surveillance video at schools, casinos and airports."StarSearch by Real" doubles as a video navigation tool, pinpointing the places the celebs appear in the videos, and letting users quickly jump to those spots.

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Venture capital has fueled billions of dollars in wealth but it has largely excluded black Americans. Only 1% of venture-funded startup founders are black and more than 80% of venture firms don't have a single black investor.

Blck VC, a group of young black investors and entrepreneurs are calling on the venture capitalist community to diversify their ranks and support the black community. Declaring Thursday, June 4th, a day of action, the group launched a campaign called "We Won't Wait."

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