Is This LA Icon the Victim of Crypto Winter?

Daniel Nieblas
Daniel Nieblas is a bestselling author and featured writer for The Startup, the largest publication on Medium. His work covers various topics in technology, including Machine Learning, Autonomous Vehicles, and Cyberterrorism. He is also the Story Coordinator for LA Downtowner, and a Creative Associate of the Ferroconcrete Design.
​Crypto Arena before and after
Staples Center

Around this time last year, you could get a sense of the market fervor that the newly christened Crypto.com Arena embodied. A $700 million dollar naming rights deal had suddenly catapulted a small cryptocurrency exchange from relative anonymity into the global orbit of the house that Kobe built, formerly and often still addressed by fans as the Staples Center.


“In the next few years, people will look back at this as the moment when crypto crossed the chasm into the mainstream,” Crypto.com’s chief executive, Marszalek told the L.A. Times last November.

At the time, AEG—the owner of the arena—put its new partner on full display. Throughout its L.A. Live complex, the crypto exchange bombarded the entertainment district with massive ads on its buildings that looked like cinematic windows into outer space, with “Fortune Favors the Brave,” spelled out on each one.

Yet here we are, more than a year later, and most of the electrical signage at Crypto.com Arena, originally scheduled to be completed by June 2020, is still missing. Whether it’s a Lakers game or the Dinos Alive Exhibit, what has instead welcomed the estimated four million visitors this past year are two large, empty and gritty rail sacks at each of the main entrance corridors. From the street level, the makeshift-looking metallic boards bearing the Crypto.com logo seem out of place amidst the frenzy of L.A. Live’s electronic billboards, and far below something that should adorn a local landmark.

Sure, there’s an Instagram reel available of the aerial signage, which appears to have been completed for the Lakers opening season in the fall. However, unless you’re flying over the arena, the flimsy boards are the only real marquees from any other vantage point.

As such, some members of the DTLA Town Square group on Facebook have expressed frustration, and confusion as to what the missing signage even means. “I have to wonder if people who don’t know what Staples Center was or where Crypto is, how do they know they’ve arrived.” Ginny Brideau, a close-by neighbor of the arena said, “what a loss…”

Ernie Pearl, another member of the group, believes it represents some financial turmoil for Crypto writ large. “You’d think Crypto would jump at the start with their signage and brand being promoted in the nation’s second largest [commercial real estate] market…”

But, with the total value of all cryptocurrencies losing more than 70% of their peak value in the last year alone, it appears that AEG is coming to terms with not only a company, but an industry playing out of its league.

The lack of signage even bears similarity to other companies reeling from the crypto fall out. Last year, Esports team owner Team SoloMid (TSM) suspended its partnership with embattled cryptocurrency exchange FTX after the company filed for bankruptcy.

According to Michael Roth, Vice President of Communications at AEG, however, Crypto.com has made all their necessary payments to fund the signage. He attributes the delays to the global supply chain problem, unforeseen engineering setbacks, and a rush to build. “I'll be quite honest,” he told me on a phone call, “the deal came very quickly when we announced it…it was overly optimistic.”

Roth added there are currently no issues with funding or payments, “they have been exceptional partners…we are very proud to partner with Crypto.com.”

Though the current street-level marquees appear to be a major downgrade, and were probably designed to be temporary, Roth insisted that they were manufactured for the arena, and filled the necessary gap for the time being. He also mentioned the electrical signage that will replace them is “en route,” and will be seen in the very near term, though no exact timeframe was given.

For now though, Crypto.com Arena and its lack of permanent signage, remains a near-constant reminder of how far we’ve come from the optimism surrounding crypto at the beginning of the naming rights deal. And serve as yet another reminder that the crypto winter is here until further notice.

🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.

Pickleball

Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle


Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out


Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities


Top Golf

Image Source: Topgolf

Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo


SoFi Stadium Tour

Image Source: Discover LA

A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours


Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch


Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


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  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

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