Elon Musk is back in the news cycle, but this time it wasn't because of his tweets.
Tulsa has transformed its iconic 75-foot-tall Golden Driller statue into a likeness of the billionaire entrepreneur in an almost superhero-style pose with the Tesla emblem emblazoned across his chest. The city gave the statue, built in the 1960s as a tribute to the oil industry, a makeover to entice Musk to build a new factory in the Oklahoma metropolis.
Musk is reportedly considering both Tulsa and Austin as locations to build the upcoming "Cybertruck" utility vehicle. The factory could produce as many as 10,000 jobs, and become the largest employer in Tulsa, reported the Tulsa World. And, given that Musk is a frequent user of Twitter, the city's politicians have taken to social media to call attention to the statue as a way to entice Musk into building a plant there.
The Golden Driller got a #tesla facelift today complete with an #ElonMusk mask #tulsa more at… https://t.co/hlsFwuVx7J— Mike Simons (@Mike Simons)1589929202.0
Tulsa is a city that doesn’t stifle entrepreneurs - we revere them! Golden @elonmusk is now the 6th-tallest statue… https://t.co/WL7PO9WK7t— G.T. Bynum (@G.T. Bynum)1589979171.0
If @Tesla and #Tulsa team up to change the world, it would only be right to #BuyLocal. #cybertruck @elonmusk https://t.co/cQJ5baF1iN— G.T. Bynum (@G.T. Bynum)1589739123.0
No word on if Musk has seen the publicity campaign.
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The coronavirus pandemic's emergence has changed the world around us. Conferences have been cancelled, travel has been severely restricted, and working from home has become the norm. But less clear is the scale of the economic impact and how companies should be reacting. 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.
1:39 p.m: Disneyland Will Close Due to Covid-19
Disneyland will close its doors indefinitely, according to a statement from the park:
"While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Disneyland Resort, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California's executive order and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month. The Hotels of Disneyland Resort will remain open until Monday, March 16 to give guests the ability to make necessary travel arrangements; Downtown Disney will remain open. We will monitor the ongoing situation and follow the advice and guidance of federal and state officials and health agencies. Disney will continue to pay cast members during this time."
The closure comes as California Governor Gavin Newsom has called for all nonessential events of more than 250 people to be cancelled and issued a health directive aimed at getting Californians to be vigilant about contracting the virus.
"We thought the big testing labs would have it under control, but it became apparent to us that there wasn't enough testing."
With that thought, Fred Turner, the head of a Bay Area startup known as Curative Inc., headed to Los Angeles to launch a production facility to produce coronavirus testing kits. "We can now do 50 a day, by Monday 150, and the end of the week 1,000 a day." The goal: 10,000 coronavirus testing kits to be deployed to drive-thru testing centers across the United States.
10:51a.m.: Major League Baseball Suspends Spring Training, Delays Season
Major League Baseball suspended all spring training in Arizona and Florida to confront the coronavirus pandemic, and delayed the start of the regular season by at least two weeks. The NCAA Tournament set for March also called off games.
10:37 a.m.: Major League Soccer Suspends Play
Major League Soccer is following in the footsteps of the NBA and suspending its season for 30 days due to the coronavirus COVID-19, the league announced Thursday. The Los Angeles Galaxy, which are currently ranked fifth in the western conference, tweeted "at the appropriate time, the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season."
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. Read More >>
University of California, Los Angeles economists tore up their quarterly March 2020 economic outlook as COVID-19 anxiety took hold of the American public and the novel virus spread through dozens of states.
The updated 104-page UCLA Anderson Forecast, released early Thursday, revised their earlier forecast of 2% for real GDP growth to a low 1.5% on a fourth-quarter-to-fourth-quarter basis, as they took a "midpoint between coronavirus having a very minimal effect to it causing a full-blown recession." Read more >>
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TrueCar announced Tuesday that Mike Darrow, who has been the Santa Monica company's interim chief executive, now will take over the position on a permanent basis. Analysts say the move adds a measure of stability at a time when many on Wall Street saw it as a possible acquisition target.
Darrow has been with TrueCar for three years, and was put into the top leadership position after former president and CEO Chip Perry retired in May 2019. Prior to that, Darrow served as the company's executive vice president as well as head of TrueCar's ALG subsidiary.
The move adds a dose of support for a company that just a few weeks ago was rumored to be on the auction block after a disappointing earnings report. The stock has bounced around in recent days amidst the wider market volatility, dropping from about $3.66 in earlier February to Tuesday's closing price at $2.34.
"We believe this adds stability to the organization," said Andrew Boone, an analyst with JMP Securities, in a research note. He kept the company's stock rating at a "market perform."
A research note by financial services firm BTIG speculated recently that TrueCar, which operates the nation's fourth largest online automotive marketplace, was ripe for an acquisition as soon as the end of this month. "Based on our inbound call volume, we believe many investors are wondering if True is now an acquisition target," wrote analyst Marvin Fong.
TrueCar has been on a wild ride since serial entrepreneur Scott Painter founded the company in 2004.
It quickly became one of L.A.'s hottest startups after it appeared to be able to disrupt the half-century-plus relationship between consumers and auto dealerships. But dealerships were not about to go quietly, and in 2012, thousands of dealers exited the TrueCar network amidst complaints about bidding wars that meant they were losing money on transactions.
Still, the company went public two years later and shares have sunk from a high of $25.00.
In 2018, changes to Google's search algorithm caused a steep decline in TrueCar's website traffic. Just as the company was recovering from that and improving its SEO, USAA recently announced it would end its lucrative partnership, which brought in 29% of TrueCar's unit sales, in October.
USAA remains TrueCar's fourth-largest shareholder with about 9 million shares, which represents 8.5% of the stock.
Darrow said in a statement Tuesday that he's "proud of the way the company united to launch our new brand and consumer experience earlier this year, which was no small feat."
"I look forward to working with the team as we continue to innovate and deliver a modern and world-class car buying experience that appeals to consumers and dealers alike," he added.