Coronavirus Updates: Quibi's Possible Ad Woes; Warner's IPO Hopes; Disney Plans to Open Florida Theme Park

Here are the latest headlines regarding how the novel coronavirus is impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest updates.

  • Quibi may be struggling in advertising amid concerns about COVID-19 expenses
  • Disney to propose the opening of Florida's Disney World, could be blueprint for California
  • Are IPOs poised to make a comeback? Warner Music Group hopes so

    Quibi may be struggling in advertising amid concerns about COVID-19 expenses

    Quibi's struggles continue, as several major advertisers are asking to defer or extend their payment, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The requests come from Pepsi, Taco Bell, Anheuser-Busch and Walmart, and stem from the impact the coronavirus has had on the advertisers' business or concerns that the short-form video service launched in April is struggling to meet its viewer targets.

    Either way, it's more bad news for the startup that previously blazed its way to $1.75 billion in funding before ever acquiring a customer. The ability of Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, Quibi's leaders, to charm content creators and woo advertisers was widely considered the platform's secret sauce leading up to launch.

    The private, Hollywood-based company raised $150 million worth of advertising from 10 companies that were presumably excited by Quibi's attempt to turn consumers' "on-the-go" moments into viewing time. But it's been a bumpy seven weeks. Subscriber numbers have disappointed, a patent infringement lawsuit lingers, and the service's core value proposition has been effectively wiped out by the stay-at-home reality ushered in by the coronavirus. The Journal also reported that Whitman, who has told dot.LA that she is committed to playing a long game, has instituted cost-cutting measures, including slowing down hiring.

    Are IPOs poised to make a comeback? Warner Music Group hopes so

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    Warner Music Group announced is moving forward with its IPO, selling 13.7% of the company's common stock at $23 to $26 a share. That would bring the value of the Los Angeles-based company to about $13.3 billion. The company plans to offer 70 million shares at the launch, but no date has been set yet.

    The IPO would be one of the first big L.A. companies to wade into the public markets, and may represent a bit more optimism that the music industry is moving toward a streaming world — a pivot that is already paying off amid the pandemic for companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. HBO, the cable channeled owned by AT&T, launches its HBO Max service on Wednesday.

    Warner Music represents hundreds of top artists, ranging from Cardi B to David Bowie, and may use the IPO to position itself in a COVID-19 world where artists aren't able to perform in arenas or stadiums. Live Nation, a Beverly Hills-based entertainment company, recently furloughed hundreds of staff as the company was unable to sell tickets to events.

    Disney to propose opening Florida's Disney World, could be blueprint for California parks

    upload.wikimedia.org

    The Walt Disney Co. announced that Walt Disney World Resort executives will submit a proposal Wednesday to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force in Florida for a phased reopening of the resort's theme parks. Jim MacPhee, Senior Vice President of Operations, will give a virtual presentation of the proposed approach during the task force's online meeting

    The results could pave the way for Disney and other California theme parks closed by COVID-19 may reopen once the state hits the third stage of reopening. The state is currently on stage two, and there is no exact time frame when other non-essential business can open their doors — or turnstiles at Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott's Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California.

    "Theme parks are slated to open in Stage 3 if the rate of spread of COVID-19 and hospitalizations remain stable," according to California Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson Kate Folmar.

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    Voyage SMS Lays Off Sales Staffers, COO As Tech Downturn Continues

    Samson Amore

    Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

    Voyage SMS Lays Off Sales Staffers, COO As Tech Downturn Continues
    Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

    Text message marketing startup Voyage SMS has laid off more than 10% of its staff, including its chief operating officer, dot.LA has learned—as the Santa Monica-based company became the latest local venture to fall victim to worsening economic conditions.

    Read moreShow less

    Entrepreneur Camille Styles on Adapting... and Adapting Again

    Yasmin Nouri

    Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

    Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

    Camille Styles
    Image courtesy of Camille Styles

    Camille Styles thought she had her dream job — until she started to crave more creativity.

    On this episode of Behind Her Empire, the serial entrepreneur talks about how she learned to take risks, dealing with burnout and gaining the confidence to pursue her passions.

    Styles runs Camille Styles, a digital publication that grew out of a blog she created as a hobby and, over time, became a business.

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    Valence, a Network for Black Professionals, Acquired by Fintech Firm Greenwood

    Kristin Snyder

    Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

    Valence, a Network for Black Professionals, Acquired by Fintech Firm Greenwood
    Courtesy of Business Wire

    Valence, a Los Angeles-based networking platform for Black professionals, has been bought by digital banking platform Greenwood, the company announced Wednesday.

    Atlanta-based Greenwood—which provides services intended to boost financial opportunities for Black and Latino people and businesses—said it will use Valence’s network to connect its community with professional development tools. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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