Larry King Spent His Last Year Building a Legacy for Gen Z

Martine Paris
Martine Paris is an award-winning journalist who covers technology, entertainment and culture for Business Insider, Fast Company, Forbes, VentureBeat and dot.LA. Follow her on Twitter @contentnow.
Larry King Spent His Last Year Building a Legacy for Gen Z

The legendary broadcaster Larry King died Saturday in Los Angeles at 87 after being hospitalized for COVID-19. He may best be remembered as the longtime host of CNN who interviewed the most notable personalities of the 20th century, including Vladimir Putin and Frank Sinatra, but he also worked tirelessly to build a bridge for the next generation.

I spoke with King when the pandemic first hit the U.S. last January. He had fallen and needed to cancel his appearance at CES, the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, where he was scheduled to speak with TikTok influencer Josh Richards about a blockchain app to combat climate change. It was about as Gen Z as it could get.

"The young will inherit the world," he said by phone as I stood backstage with his 21-year-old son, Chance King. Rather than cancel our in-person interview, he was only too happy to talk from home. Effusive in his love and admiration for his child, he said "My day is gone, but Chance is tomorrow."

With Chance as executive producer, King was making his first foray into podcasting. His show, "The Millionth Question," would feature celebrities discussing pressing issues of the day. In May, it was picked up by 4Forty4 Media for $5 million, according to Variety.

Despite having had a near-fatal stroke which put him into a coma in March 2019, the veteran journalist showed no signs of slowing down. He told People that it was Chance that kept him going.

"My dad has interviewed thousands of world leaders, athletes and celebrities," Chance told me. "We're doing this podcast because so many kids do not know who he is. With podcasts revolutionizing journalism, we want to touch as many lives as possible. "

King started in radio in 1957 during the era of black-and-white TV with cable and consumer internet still decades away. Over the course of his storied career which included 30 years with "CNN's Larry King Live," he witnessed the evolution of technology.

"The whole thing excites me," he said. "We weren't talking about Bitcoin even two years ago and now it's part of the culture. Everything is moving so fast. I think it's safe to predict that Bitcoin will become a major part of our economic engine."

But for all his optimism, King had grave concerns about where humanity was heading. "Climate change is the biggest issue facing the world today," he said, expressing hope that Gen Z's passion around preserving the planet would spur innovation that would lead to a more promising future.

Even with 2.4 million Twitter followers, King had no plans to do more on social media. "I'm 86 years old," he said with a laugh. "I'm lucky to be walking!"

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Sports trading card platform Arena Club has raised $10 million in Series A funding.

Co-founded by CEO Brian Lee and Hall of Fame Yankees player Derek Jeter, Arena Club launched its digital showroom in September. Through the platform, sports fans can buy, sell, trade and display their card collections. Using computer vision and machine learning, Arena Club allows fans to grade and authenticate their cards, which can be stored in the company’s vault or delivered in protective “slabs.” Arena Club intends to use the new cash to expand these functions and scale its operations.

The new funding brings Arena Club’s total amount raised to $20 million. M13,, Lightspeed Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures and BAM Ventures contributed to the round.

“Our team is thankful for the group of investors—led by M13, who see the bright future of the trading card hobby and our platform,” Lee said in a statement. “I have long admired M13 and the value they bring to early-stage startups.”

M13’s co-founder Courtney Reum, who formed the early-stage consumer technology venture firm in 2016 alongside his brother Carter Reum, will join Arena Club’s board. Reum has been eyeing the trading card space since 2020 when he began investing in what was once just a childhood hobby.

The sports trading card market surged in 2020 as fans turned to the hobby after the pandemic brought live events to a standstill. Since then, prices have come down, though demand remains high. And investors are still betting on trading card companies, with companies like Collectors bringing in $100 million earlier this year. Fanatics, which sells athletic collectibles and trading cards, reached a $31 billion valuation after raising $700 million earlier this week. On the blockchain, Tom Brady’s NFT company Autograph lets athletes sell digital collectibles directly to fans.

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