Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Nov. 18. I’m Justin Ray.
By now you have probably heard that the Staples Center is getting a new name for Christmas. Many on social media were shocked by the news that was released late Tuesday. Members of the Clippers seemed taken aback, too.
The downtown Los Angeles venue is set to don the new name for 20 years under a deal between Crypto.com and Anschutz Entertainment Group, the owner and operator of the arena. The cryptocurrency company reportedly shelled out more than $700 million for the naming rights, making it one of the biggest naming deals in sports history.
The company also plans to install at the entrance to the arena from LA Live, a 3,300 square-foot Crypto.com “activation space” featuring crypto-centric interactive experiences for sports or music fans.
So what do we know about the company behind the purchase? Here are some things you may have missed:
- The 5-year-old company’s core business is running an exchange that allows users to trade cryptocurrencies, store them in an online account and access them with a Visa rewards debit card. It also has a wing for nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, cryptocurrency payment software, its own token and a number of other products in the works.
- With 10 million users and 3,000 employees, Crypto.com is a major player in the crypto world. Crypto.com’s chief executive, Kris Marszalek declined to share specific figures with The Times but said that the company reached profitability in early 2021 and has seen revenue grow 2,000% in the last year. Over the same period, the company has also signed partnership deals with UFC, Formula One racing, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Montreal Canadiens, the Italian Lega Serie A soccer league, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club and Twitch Rivals, the livestreaming service’s esports category.
- The deal came about quickly. Staples signed an agreement in 2009 for naming rights in perpetuity — but AEG bought the naming rights back for an undisclosed sum in 2019. Conversations with Crypto.com just began at the end of summer. Marszalek has never attended a game at Staples Center; the Christmas game will be his first visit.
- Renaming Staples Center is the latest phase of a marketing blitz for the crypto company. A new ad unveiled by the company in October features Oscar winner Matt Damon who says: “Four simple words that have been whispered by the intrepid since the time of the Romans … ‘Fortune favors the brave.’” In November, a handful of billboards with that motto went up in cities across the world, and the company took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal featuring it.
- Columnist Michael Hiltzik has strong opinions about the new name. “Public fascination with crypto more resembles a cult than the product of rational consideration.”
- Have you ever had food at the Staples Center? Here is a guide to the best things to eat (and drink) at the arena.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
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A massive two-day strike by University of California lecturers that threatened widespread class cancellations was averted early Wednesday after the union and university reached a tentative agreement on a contract. It will strengthen job security and boost the pay by an average 30% over five years, according to reporters Teresa Watanabe and Colleen Shalby. “We’re encouraging and advising members to teach today,” Mia McIver, president of the University Council-AFT, said Wednesday. Los Angeles Times
‘The tragedy is our community lacks almost every type of healthcare’: The coronavirus piggybacked on a catastrophe of poorly treated chronic illnesses rampant in South L.A.: heart disease, high blood pressure, lung cancer, kidney disease, asthma, arthritis, depression and diabetes. All of this made South L.A. a hotspot of COVID-19 deaths during the winter surge. However, while that deadly wave receded, the high tide of underlying conditions remained, with Black and Latino residents facing nearly unrivaled numbers of diabetic amputations. The loss of limbs embodies the enduring grief of generations in South L.A. — of entrenched poverty, the dearth of both supermarkets with fresh food and parks to promote exercise, and a deeply deficient primary healthcare system. Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
More than four months after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was announced as President Biden’s pick to become U.S. ambassador to India, he is still waiting for a hearing and vote before a key Senate committee that will consider his nomination. Garcetti, who traveled again to Washington this week, has yet to have a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Other Biden nominees have appeared before the panel — a sign that Democrats have prioritized other candidates over the L.A. mayor. As part of their review of Garcetti, senators are scrutinizing allegations stemming from a sexual harassment lawsuit against the city involving his former advisor. Los Angeles Times
CRIME AND COURTS
A woman offering immigration services in San Jose is facing charges on allegations of defrauding customers seeking help in their applications, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. Jasmine E. Sanchez is accused of taking money from families, failing to submit applications and refusing to issue refunds. According to state records, Sanchez did not have authorization by the secretary of state or the state of California, CBS San Francisco reported. She received a cease and desist letter from state officials in 2018. Her attorney information is not known. CBS San Francisco
A man was convicted this week in the death of a 15-year-old girl who prosecutors say he shot in the back of the head because he believed she had disrespected him. Christopher Simpson was 17 when he shot Macy Murphy, who was found dead in a car five years ago, according to a news release from the Sacramento County district attorney’s office. A jury found Simpson guilty of first-degree murder. Simpson was prosecuted as an adult. Now 22, Simpson faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison for the girl’s death, prosecutors said. Sacramento Bee
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
After 15 to 20 million years roaming this land, the desert tortoise is in danger of going extinct. This is bad not only for the tortoise but also for the desert; the tortoise’s burrows are essential for the health of the whole desert ecosystem. “Kit foxes, the owls, and even coyotes will repurpose their burrows, so they’re very important to the survival of other species as well,” says Sophia Osho, executive administrator of the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee. Why is this happening? We can link a lot to humans. “In a way, you could say this is all the result of best intentions: We want clean energy but that requires land,” Brandon Reynolds writes. “We decriminalized cannabis, which led to illegal grows. We have federal land open to the public because it belongs to us, but we’re terrible guests.” KCRW
Nearly 4,000 pounds of cannabis seized during traffic stop. Earlier this month, law enforcement in Humboldt County noticed a U-Haul driving really fast. After stopping the truck, two occupants fled from the vehicle into nearby vegetation, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies found 3,683 pounds of cannabis in the vehicle. This case is still under investigation. The two people who left the scene were not located. Humboldt County Sheriff’s office
Employers are pulling out the stops to keep their employees from joining the exodus known as the Great Resignation, spurred by a pandemic that has changed the way people approach work. Signing bonuses are growing, workweeks are shrinking and the perks keep rolling in. The No. 1 method to retain employees is always money, and some firms are doling out raises and bonuses. But companies are also embracing other perks that prove less expensive — especially for bigger businesses — and in some cases highly fulfilling for workers. The Times uncovered everything from a work-from-anywhere program, to free online philosophy classes. Los Angeles Times
Want to quit your job but can’t right now? How to cope while you plan next steps. For workers who can’t quit their jobs, the so-called Great Resignation may feel like a farce. There are myriad reasons that employees who might want to leave their jobs cannot do so. Read on for more tips on how to make your current working situation more bearable — maybe even more fruitful — and also to prepare for an eventual departure from your job. Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles: Overcast 69 San Diego: Rub a cat belly (results may vary). Overcast 66 San Francisco: Cloudy 60 San Jose: Overcast 67 Sacramento: Cloudy 60
Today’s California memory is from Adele Snyder:
It was around 7:30 a.m. when I stepped off the train in Fresno after a three-day trip from the East Coast; tired, yet still reeling from the breathtaking California scenery viewed at sunrise as we slowly zigzagged through the mountains! As a new graduate, I was coming to accept a teaching assignment. Suddenly, I had a whoosh sensation of excitement that I had been here before. That day was my birthday and also about that same time Martin Luther King Jr. was making his famous speech in Washington, D.C. Little did I know that the incredible beauty of California’s landscape, its diversity and creativity would be considered one of my greatest gifts and blessings in my senior years!
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)
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