The Coachella of capitalism is back.
After repeatedly postponing its flagship event last year, the Milken Institute announced Thursday its Milken Institute Global Conference will return this fall to a fully in-person event from October 17-20 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The conference normally takes place in May but as a crucial source of revenue to the non-profit organization – with ticket packages in the thousands of dollars and lucrative sponsorships – organizers did not want to wait another year to convene.
"We also look forward to the spring of 2022, when we will convene for the 25th annual Global Conference and expand on the issues discussed in October," Michael Klowden, CEO of the Milken Institute said in a statement. "The past year drove us to reflect on how we live, what we believe, and what matters most."
The gathering normally attracts 4,000 attendees from more than 70 countries to the Beverly Hilton to hear from luminaries from the worlds of finance, politics and medicine. Milken has a full-time staff of about 25 working on the conference year round and another 100 who pitch in once the date gets closer.
Even with vaccinations now open to anyone 16 years or older in California, many have expressed skepticism about returning to conferences after a year of social distancing and Zoom meetings. Almost half of respondents in the dot.LA VC Sentiment Survey said they do not think they want to go to a conference until the first half of next year.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said California will fully reopen June 15, as long as vaccines are available to anyone.Vox Media's Code Conference also announced it will return in-person this Fall in Beverly Hills and that event will be held even earlier than Milken's, in September.
- Milken Global Conference Is Postponed Until Summer At Least - dot ... ›
- Milken Global Conference postponed again - dot.LA ›
- milken-institute - dot.LA ›
In the past year, Dodger Stadium has been used as a presidential polling site, cooling center, a massive COVID testing site and as one of the country's largest vaccination sites.
Now, it will finally be open Friday for its intended purpose. For the first time since 2019, fans will be welcomed through the stadium's turnstiles, though capacity is limited to around 15,000 people.
Those lucky enough to be in attendance will not only get to see the boys in blue in the flesh for the first time since they won the World Series last year, but they will also get to experience a stadium significantly updated for the digital era.
The improvements include a revamped $100 million centerfield plaza featuring food, entertainment and play areas for kids and a host of less-visible tech upgrades, including blazing-fast 5G wireless connectivity and an improved point-of-sale system allowing fans to order food and drinks without having to wait in line.
The enhancements were originally scheduled to coincide with the Dodgers hosting the 2020 All-Star game, which they have now been awarded for 2022.
Anyone who has ever tried to text or browse Instagram during a game – Dodger Stadium has the distinction of being one of the most Instagrammed places on Earth – will appreciate the wireless updates. The team installed over 1,000 5G access points and will be the first MLB team to feature next-generation Wi-Fi 6.
The team also installed new point-of-sale cloud software from Appetize, a Los Angeles startup founded in 2011 that went through the 2016 Dodgers accelerator, and is already used at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.
"The three of us co-founders are our massive Dodgers fans, and to have the Dodgers, to us, is that trifecta of having the three biggest brands in baseball," said Kevin Anderson, Appetize's co-founder and chief strategy officer.
As part of the switch to Appetize, the stadium hawkers who roam the aisles of Dodger Stadium selling cotton candy and peanuts will now carry handheld devices, which means the days of handing crumpled up bills down your row and hoping you get handed back change are over. All the hawkers will now accept credit cards.
The new system will also allow fans to use Postmates to preorder stadium food so they do not have to wait in line for Dodger Dogs, expanding a program the team piloted last year in the upper decks.
"Postmates is a big deal because every venue has always tried to do mobile ordering but I've never heard of it being successful," said Esquibel.
For baseball purists or even more casual fans, the idea of people spending more time staring at their phones rather than being engaged in the game may not sound so appealing. A growing number of concerts and comedy shows have banned smartphones. There is also a much more serious problem of fans distracted by phones getting seriously injured after being hit by foul balls. But MLB — whose average fan is 53 years old — wants to stay relevant and appeal to a younger audience.
"I feel the romance of Dodger Stadium," said Esquibel, who grew up near the ballpark. "There is a lot of history, but at the same time we want to evolve and keep up with technology."
Esquibel also believes that, far from taking fans out of the game, technology will bring them closer to it because they can track advanced analytics and play fantasy on their smartphones. The next logical step: Fans will someday be able to make in-game bets, as is already commonplace in the U.K. and Europe.
"It could be very exciting," said Esquibel. "Wagering is coming."
Already MLB has been encouraging fans to bet on games and plays to win contests that offer cash prizes, though the league is careful to point out it does not yet allow actual betting.
In order to prevent fans from congregating, some of the new areas will initially be shut off to fans, but the Dodgers hope that will be short lived and their refreshed stadium can soon operate in its full glory.
"The fans that will be coming here on Friday will be able to walk through here and get to their seats, but most of the areas will still be closed off to fans," Dodgers President Stan Kasten told members of the media this week. "We're hoping some time between May 1 and June 15, according to the governor, we should be open 100%. That's the day we're all looking for."
A version of this story originally ran July 23rd and was updated April 9th.
- Dodger Stadium Prepares for COVID-19 Vaccinations - dot.LA ›
- You Can Now Order Dodger Stadium Food Directly to Your Couch ... ›
- Curative Will Help Administer Vaccines at Dodger Stadium - dot.LA ›
Aaron Hirschhorn, a well-known investor and entrepreneur in the Los Angeles tech scene who founded the pet sitting startup DogVacay died Sunday in a boating accident near Miami Beach, Fla. He was 42.
Hirschhorn started DogVacay with his wife Karine Nissim in 2012. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company raised nearly $50 million and was a leading competitor in the pet services industry before being acquired by Rover in 2017.
Hirschhorn moved from Los Angeles to Miami Beach about three years ago, according to the Miami Herald.
"All of us at Rover were saddened to learn of Aaron's sudden passing. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues during this painful time," Rover said in a statement provided to GeekWire on Wednesday. "His love of animals and commitment to pet parents was exemplified in his founding and leadership of DogVacay and Gallant, but his vision for what was possible in the pet industry went well beyond what he already had accomplished."
In 2018 Hirschhorn founded another pet-focused startup called Gallant, which stores dog stem cells so that they're accessible for future treatments.
The Miami Herald reported that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard reported a crash on Sunday between a 38-foot Chris-Craft motorboat and a personal watercraft.
Hirschhorn was reportedly riding his electric foil surfboard and died at the scene. In an Instagram post on Monday, his wife wrote: "My beloved husband of ten years died yesterday in an accident. We are broken and will never be the same."
Hirschhorn's Instagram shows numerous family images and scenes from his active lifestyle. "I play sports and get hurt a lot," his profile description reads.
The photo feed also illustrates his love for dogs.
After the Rover acquisition, Hirschhorn called the growing of DogVacay "an incredible journey."
"Our goal has always been to make quality pet care accessible to everyone, and with Rover and DogVacay's experience and expertise, we will continue to create the best solution for our host community, our pet parents and most importantly, our pets that we love as family," he said at the time.
According to the Gallant website, Hirschhorn founded that company "after experiencing the power of regenerative medicine for himself" when he underwent a single stem cell treatment "to heal a debilitating back injury."
Hirschhorn pitched Gallant in a 2019 episode of the ABC TV series "Shark Tank" and snagged an investment from Lori Greiner and Anne Wojcicki, co-founder and CEO of 23andMe.
The Miami Herald reported that Hirschhorn is survived by his wife and their three young children: a daughter in kindergarten, a son in first grade and a son in second grade.