Coronavirus Shuts Down eSports Events as NBA Suspends Season and NCAA Questions March Madness
Plans for the Overwatch League to grow attendance in 2020 have stalled as organizers have shut it down amid growing coronavirus fears. The blockbuster title had big plans this year for its dedicated eSports league, rolling out a home game schedule aimed to foment regional enthusiasm.
Parent Activision Blizzard announced the cancellation for all March and April events, squelching plans for two teams in one of its largest markets. But the company says the matches will still happen, just not with live audiences.
The Los Angeles Valiant and the Los Angeles Gladiators — ranked 8th and 19th — had played just three matches between them.
The announcement comes after the league already cancelled events in China and South Korea.
"We are working hand-in-hand with our teams to see that all matches are played when it's safe and logistically feasible, staying as close to our originally planned schedule as possible," the league said in a statement posted to Twitter. "We are considering the various options available to esports in this effort, so that all teams — including those previously impacted by scheduling changes in China — can get back to doing what they do best."
The Valiant, who play all home games at the Novo located at 800 West Olympic Blvd in Los Angeles, announced refunds for all cancelled events.
Coronavirus threats have stalled or stopped events and gatherings nationwide. NCAA organizers have announced that March Madness games will be played without fans, and the NBA suspended its season "until further notice."
Attendance at eSports events has been steadily growing, with Riot Games packing 45,000 paid attendees into the Beijing National Stadium. The Overwatch League, in its third year, is still building its brand in an increasingly competitive environment.
According to numbers from ticket sales company StubHub, the number of eSports events increased 180% from 2015 to 2019. Average ticket prices, over the same time period, shot up 36%.
"Demand for eSports and the number of events have steadily risen over the last five years, with a huge spike in ticket sales," said Akshay Khanna, general manager of sports for StubHub. "If this trend continues, and with technology constantly evolving, it's likely that we'll continue to see growth in this space."
Event cancellations come at a particularly difficult time for the Call of Duty League, also run by Activision Blizzard. The league, like Overwatch, features a first person shooter and is in its inaugural season. And, with two teams based in Los Angeles, the league is still deciding how it will handle the threat.
Activision Blizzard said it is scrolling through options but insists that the games will go on.
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Brad Inman, founder at Inman
Brad Inman, Founder at Inman<p>Award-winning journalist and publisher, Brad Inman is the founder and owner of Inman, real estate's leading name in news, information and innovation since 1983. In addition, his Inman-branded real estate business and technology conferences bring thousands of thought leaders together each year to share best practices and promote innovation. Countless new products and companies have been launched at Inman conferences.</p><p>A native of Carlinville, Illinois, and a graduate of Boston University, Inman began his career as a housing policy analyst and community advocate who parlayed a weekly real estate column in the San Francisco Examiner at the dawn of the Internet era into a series of entrepreneurial ventures. In 1999, Inman founded HomeGain.com, an early provider of online marketing programs. HomeGain was sold to Classified Ventures, LLC, in 2005. That same year, Inman founded TurnHere, an online commercial video platform and, in 2008, founded Vook, an online e-publishing platform. He also was an early investor in Curbed.com and served as chairman of the board before it was sold to Vox Media. A compelling speaker, he is a regular at real estate events around the nation and has been a visiting lecturer in the School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.</p>
Spencer Rascoff, Co-Founder, Executive Chairman
Spencer Rascoff, Co-Founder, Executive Chairman<p>Spencer Rascoff is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire and dot.LA, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. He is currently executive chairman of dot.LA and a board member at Zillow and TripAdvisor. In fall 2019 Spencer was a Visiting Executive Professor at Harvard Business School where he co-taught the "Managing Tech Ventures" course. In 2015, Spencer co-wrote and published his first book, the New York Times' Best Seller "Zillow Talk: Rewriting the Rules of Real Estate." Spencer is the host of "Office Hours," a monthly podcast on dot.LA featuring candid conversations between prominent executives on leadership, diversity and inclusion, and startups. </p>
Here are the latest headlines regarding how the protests around the killing of George Floyd are impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest update.
- Disney will donate $5M to Social Justice Groups
- Blck VC group launches 'We Won't Wait' campaign
- a16z VC firm launches fund to target diverse founders
- Snap stops promoting Trump's account in its Discover feature
Disney will donate $5M to Social Justice Groups<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2OTY2MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjY2MTY2NX0._jc-luWmLRd9-UnBFZgyZJTm33I9_3T6Ssz9nZ3lkVY/image.jpg?width=980" id="7082f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c602ad745e2c03d3c0175cf24139e96f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
ABC's TV sitcom Blackish aired two "monumental and timely episodes" this week.<p>The Walt Disney company announced Wednesday that it will donate $5 million to nonprofit groups fighting for social justice, starting with a $2 million donation to the NAACP. </p><p>"The killing of George Floyd has forced our nation to once again confront the long history of injustice that black people in America have suffered, and it is critical that we stand together, speak out and do everything in our power to ensure that acts of racism and violence are never tolerated," said Disney chief Bob Chapek in a statement. "This $5 million pledge will continue to support the efforts of nonprofit organizations such as the NAACP that have worked tirelessly to ensure equality and justice."</p><p>In a statement, the company pointed to its previous social justice initiatives, including providing "millions of dollars in grants to help students from underrepresented groups make the dream of higher education a reality, including $2.5 million to the United Negro College Fund." Disney also noted that it matches employee donations to "eligible organizations" and that on Tuesday it re-aired two "monumental and timely episodes" of <em>Black-ish </em>on its ABC television networks before a primetime special titled "America in Pain: What Comes Next?" </p><p>In its quarterly earnings released last month, Disney reported nearly $40 billion in revenue in the six months to March 28, 2020. Net income over the same period was down 68% from the year prior, however, as most of the company's business units have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.</p><p><em>— Sam Blake</em></p>
a16z VC firm launches fund to target diverse founders<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2OTQ0MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDkwMzg3MH0.dhLyHYGgwtjLRdt65OFroB4fgSdsiZTeTSSEG88d7Mw/image.png?width=980" id="a1f14" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7a1c9842c8f468c18e05cdfc2be667a5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Ben and Felicia Horowitz will match up to an additional $5,000,000 total in any other donations.<p>One of Silicon Valley's most prominent venture capital firms <a href="https://a16z.com/2020/06/03/talent-x-opportunity/" target="_blank">announced Wednesday</a> it is launching a new fund designed for entrepreneurs who have the talent, drive and ideas to build great businesses, but lack the background and resources to do so.</p><p>In a blog post, the firm says it has been working on the fund for six months. However, the timing of the news this week is fortunate for an industry with a <a href="https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/vc-firms-have-a-diversity-problem-do-they-care" target="_blank">serious diversity problem. </a><span></span></p><p>a16z plans to fund a small group of founders in the first year, then expand after that. The initial capital will come from $2.2 million in donations from partners. Ben and Felicia Horowitz will match up to an additional $5 from other donations as well. The firm will invest in exchange for equity in the business, but all returns will stay in the fund to finance future entrepreneurs, which aims to back products from underserved communities that also have an "interesting model, niche market, and/or a little traction to indicate the promise and potential."</p><p>"We're venture capitalists, not activists," the firm said in its post. "Entrepreneurship hasn't been accessible to everyone, but the fact remains that being an entrepreneur is one of the most powerful ways to own your own future, to increase mobility across time and place, to invent new ways of doing things, and to forge a new system. As we emerge from this tragic moment, let's build.</p><p><em>dot.LA co-founder and executive chairman Spencer Rascoff is a board partner at a16z.</em></p><p><em><span></span>— Ben Bergman </em></p>
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