Michael Milken Is Holding Out For a Coronavirus Testing Kit

Rachel Uranga

Rachel Uranga is dot.LA's Managing Editor, News. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.

Michael Milken Is Holding Out For a Coronavirus Testing Kit
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Michael Milken, the former junk-bond king and one-time symbol of 1980s Wall Street greed, is less interested in talking about his recent pardon by President Donald Trump than how to rein in coronavirus.

At the Montgomery Summit on Wednesday, the financier and philanthropist said he's considering whether to offer a prize to help accelerate finding a test kit that could seriously slow its spread. He expects a coronavirus testing kit will appear in the next six months.


"Science can accomplish in an hour what might have taken in a year," he said. "We should be much better prepared to deal with this issue, once we get the facts."

Milken said that a prototype could be ready by the time he holds the Milken Institute's annual conference in May and if not, he has slotted a time in July.

The financier, who was convicted of violating securities and tax laws in an insider-trading scheme, emerged from a federal prison decades ago and immersed himself in a bevy of philanthropic pursuits and medical research.

Milken, who founded his eponymous economic institute, compared the fear that's spreading now to what Americans felt when they saw former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson announce he had HIV and quit the team. At the time, many feared the virus would grow and be spread widely to children. Now, that's rare.

But, he thinks this is a seminal moment where big health companies could come together to mobilize like Ford and other companies did during World War II.

"Let's get them coalesced around and see what they can do, and bring this to an end as soon as possible," he said.

But in the meantime, he said he's worried about the glut of small businesses around the world that could shut down in the wake of a spread.

"For a person that needs your paycheck to pay their rent or to eat, or to pay health care costs...someone's going to need to provide a solution if the employer doesn't keep on," he said.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec
Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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