Explaining Southern California's economy

E3 in Los Angeles: Will some attendees be looking for a job?

E3 sign 2014

Brian Watt/KPCC

E3 sign at the Los Angeles Convention Center

The Electronic Entertainment Expo – better known as E3 – gets underway Tuesday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  This year’s video game industry trade show happens as video game sales continue to climb, but employment in the industry appears volatile.  

The Entertainment Software Association, which puts on E3, says consumers spent $21.5 billion on video games, hardware and accessories in 2013, up from $20.77 billion the year before.   Meanwhile, GameJobWatch.com reports at least 3400 employees with video game makers lost their jobs last year.

The contrast in the numbers may come from the cyclical nature of work in the video game industry, according to Mike Zyda, director of the GamePipe Laboratory at USC's Vitterbi School of Engineering.  When a company is developing a new game, it hires engineers, artists, designers, support and marketing staff, but Zyda says it’s common for a company to make cuts once a game gets established in the marketplace. Nonetheless, Zyda says, there is a large and constant need for programmers in the video game industry.

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California Chrome helps horse racing through a tough stretch

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

In the mornings at Los Alamitos Race Course horses are put through workout routines on the track. With the front-running race horse, California Chrome, stabled at Los Alamitos and a new one-mile track, thoroughbred racing is seeing a resurgence.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Jay Cohen is a bugler at Santa Anita Park. Cohen is excited about the success of California Chrome. "Just once before I retire let me be at the track with a Triple Crown winner," he said.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

A rider warms up a race horse during a morning workout session at Los Alamitos Race Course. With the success of California Chrome, local race horse tracks are seeing an increase in interest from the public.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Novi Cueto watches horse races on monitors before placing a bet at Santa Anita Park.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Hugo Calbillo, left, and Joel Garcia wash a race horse in the stables at Los Alamitos Race Course. The race track is adding more than 200 horse stalls are part of its expansion.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Spectators take the stands before races begin at Santa Anita Park.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Bob Rynearson puts new shoes on a race horse inside the stables at Los Alamitos Race Course. Rynearson works as a farrier at other race tracks, but spends most of his time at Los Alamitos, he said.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

A stable hand brings a horse into the Santa Anita Park for a race on a recent afternoon. At a time when Hollywood Park Racetrack is closed, the success of the horse California Chrome is bringing a resurgence to California horse racing.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Horse owner Cory Wellman has a laugh ahead of horse races at Santa Anita Park.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

A jockey enters the racetrack at Santa Anita Park before horse races begin.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

With the closure of Hollywood Park Racetrack and the success of race horse California Chrome, Santa Anita Park and Los Alamitos Race Course are seeing increased interest in horse racing.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

A jockey crosses the finish line during a horse race at Santa Anita Park.

HORSE RACING

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Horses dry off after being washed in the stables at Los Alamitos Race Course. The first thoroughbred meet at the course will be July 3.


As California Chrome tries to become the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown, the three-year-old thoroughbred is already carrying plenty of California horse racing history on his back. 

The horse has become famous for bucking the establishment by being bred in California from very modestly priced parents and being owned by people who've chosen to call themselves "Dumbass Partners."  His success, meanwhile, comes at a pivotal moment for the horse-racing industry in Southern California.

Saturday's Belmont Stakes is the culmination of an historic winning streak that California Chrome started the day horse-racing ended at Hollywood Park. On December 22nd, he won the last stakes race at the 75-year-old race track in Inglewood.

"I’ve had a lot of ups and downs here, but this is where I started," said California Chrome's jockey Victor Espinoza that day. "When I moved to California, this is where I won my first race." 

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The news keeps getting worse for Kushner and the Register

Orange County Register

Grant Slater/KPCC

Copies of the Orange County Register slide through the presses. The newspaper is the country’s 20th most-read daily, with a circulation of about 285,000.

Less than two months ago, I had a lengthy conversation with Orange County Register publisher Aaron Kushner right before he launched the Los Angeles Register, and I asked him about the financial health of his company:

You’ve had to make layoffs, you had to stop matching employee retirement contributions, you had trouble putting up the money for the Press-Enterprise sale, you’ve been sued by the Register’s former owner’s for not making a payment. … All these things suggest that your company is not in great financial shape.

To the contrary, we closed the Press-Enterprise transaction in six weeks, which anyone who has purchased large complex businesses knows is really quick. And we did close it. The proof is in the pudding. When you look at the facts of what we have accomplished and what we are accomplishing, we are a very dynamic and growing business and expect to continue to grow.

Are you profitable?

We’re very happy with where we are. We expect that we’ll have a very healthy and profitable year this year.

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Daimler's Car2Go comes to South Bay. Will it make drivers ditch their cars?

Ben Bergman/KPCC

Car2Go’s North American CEO Nicholas Cole compares his company to iTunes, where instead of buying the whole album you just buy a few songs.

What if you could rent a car by the minute and leave it in any parking space when you’re done?

That’s the pitch behind a new car-sharing service, backed by German luxury carmaker Daimler, that launches in the South Bay Friday.

When Car2Go asked Redondo Beach mayor Steve Aspel permission to operate in his city, to say he was skeptical would be putting it mildly.

“When I first heard about it, I thought they were out of their mind,” recalled Aspel.

Then, he began to come around. The company would pay his city so that its 150 cars could occupy any public parking spot without customers having to feed the meter.

“It’s a new concept," said Aspel. "Guys like me, I’m 61 years old, and we don’t think of this sort of stuff. That’s why the world needs stuff like Car2Go. If you notice, the representatives of Car2Go are all young.”

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More layoffs, cutbacks at Freedom's Register newspapers

Orange County Register

Grant Slater/KPCC

File photo: The presses at the OC Register.

More cutbacks are coming for the Orange County Register and other newspapers owned by Freedom Communications.

Both OC Weekly and media observer Jim Romenesko report obtaining an internal memo from Freedom owners Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz notifying employees of newsroom staff buyouts, a mandatory two-week furlough in June and July and a "restructuring" of the sales team.

The memo also indicates that the Long Beach Register will go from a standalone daily edition to a weekly edition with a daily insert in the Los Angeles Register.

The OC Register had already laid off 32 employees in January.

RELATED: OC Register says more than 30 employees and its editor are leaving

Kushner's company has pursued an aggressive strategy to expand across Southern California while emphasizing its print product in Orange County.

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