Tech roundup: Google’s new office, LA’s first earthquake app and more

by Hannah Levy
January 9, 2019
Los Angeles a new Google office is going up where the Westside Pavillion sits now
photo via social

Google opens a new campus in West LA

That’s number three for the tech giant’s LA empire, for those who are counting. Google’s third LA office will assume the spot currently occupied by the Westside Pavilion shopping mall and is set to open in 2022. Google will occupy all 600,000 square feet, not including a Landmark movie theater which will remain in business. The move is part of a larger retail pinch as tech booms in cities around the United States. Brick-and-mortar stores are lagging behind online retailers, and, as in the case of One Westside, losing their buildings to them, too. [Built In LA]  


Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti displaying new ShakeAlertLA app
photo via social

Mayor Garcetti launched the country’s first earthquake warning app in LA

The app, ShakeAlertLA, is a pilot project combining early warning data from the U.S. Geological Survey with mobile technology. AT&T developed the app, which is intended to be an open source for other cities, counties and states seeking to develop their own earthquake warning systems. The news came as a welcome surprise after weeks of teasers for KPCC’s new podcast, “The Big One,” added to every commuters’ trip down the 405 a dash more existential dread. Thank you, downloaded.  [Press release]


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Los Angeles tech company Ring at CES 2019
photo via rING

People are predictably Twitter-happy at CES 2019 (see: luxury car massage chairs)

The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) rolled into town in Vegas this week, with Tuesday marking the opening day. The expo floor is a grown-up’s wonderland of gadgets and gizmos, from new-age wellness devices to edtech robots, all of which feature heavily in the Twitter feeds of attendees. This year’s most gleefully covered items include Hyundai’s four-legged car, LA-based SkyTech Sport’s boxing robot and Lamborghini’s $30,000 massage chair. For a longer list of SoCal companies gracing the event, check out our event pre-reading here. [Built In LA]


Activision Blizzard executive changes 2019
photo via shutterstock

Activision Blizzard reshuffles its executive deck

Rob Kostich, who led Activision Blizzard’s most iconic gaming franchise, Call of Duty, has been promoted to president of Activision (a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard). As president, Kostich will oversee strategy and operations, including game development. The move comes as the latest in a bout of larger internal restructuring, which also bumped King Digital CFO/CSO Humam Sakhnini to the position of president (King is also a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard), Dennis Durkin to president of the emerging businesses at Activision Blizzard, and J.Allen Brack to president of Blizzard Entertainment (once again, a subsidiary). [Press release]


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Los Angeles virtual reality update 2019.jpg
photo via shutterstock

The year in VR technology according to 5 industry insiders

The story of VR technology is complicated. For one, the potential is massive — analysts expect the industry to hit $33 billion in market size by 2022. At the same time, many investors are pulling back after disappointing initial returns on a technology that, they discovered, is very much still emerging. Where’s VR headed in 2019? We interviewed five LA companies specializing in VR and AR technologies to figure it out. TL;DR: Not even an Oculus headset could help you anticipate what’s around the next virtual corner. [Built In LA]


Turbo Tax releases blog in Spanish in 2019
photo via shutterstock

TurboTax makes its free tax tools available to Spanish-speaking customers

The San Diego-based tax prep company announced Wednesday that it would be making its free, award-winning TurboTax Blog available to Spanish-speakers. In the release, the company points out that, with approximately 40 million Hispanics, the U.S. is the second-largest Spanish speaking country in the world — larger even than Spain. The company will also be offering bilingual tax advice and product support as part of the new initiative.

“We know that many people have questions when they file their taxes,” said Mary-Ann Somers, Chief Growth Officer. “We want to make sure we are providing them answers in their language of choice to give them total confidence they are getting taxes done right and their biggest refund.” [Press release]


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