Economic Update | Week Ending June 22, 2024

Stock markets – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 39,150.33, up down 1.5% from 38,586.16 last week. It is up 3.9% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 5,464.62, up 0.6% from 5,431.16 last week. The S&P is up 14.6% year-to-date. The Nasdaq closed the week at 17,689.36 unchanged from 17,688.88 last week. It is up 17.8% year-to-date.

U.S. Treasury bond yields – The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 4.25%, up from 4.20% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 4.39% up slightly from 4.34% last week. We watch bond yields because mortgage rates follow bond yields.

Mortgage rates – Every Thursday Freddie Mac publishes interest rates based on a survey of mortgage lenders throughout the week. The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that mortgage rates for the most popular loan products as of June 20, 2024, were as follows: The 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.87%, down from 6.95% last week. The 15-year fixed was 6.13%, down from 6.17% last week.

The graph below shows the trajectory of mortgage rates over the past year.

Freddie Mac was chartered by Congress in 1970 to keep money flowing to mortgage lenders in support of homeownership and rental housing. Their mandate is to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the U.S.

Home sales data is released on the third week of the month for the previous month by the National Association of Realtors and the California Association of Realtors. These are May’s home sales figures.

U.S. existing-home sales – The National Association of Realtors reported that existing-home sales totaled 4.11 million units on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate in May, down 2.8% from an annualized rate of 4.23 million last May. The median price for a home in the U.S. in May was $419,300, up 5.8% from $396,500 one year ago. There was a 3.8-month supply of homes for sale in May, up from a 3.1-month supply one year ago. First-time buyers accounted for 32% of all sales. Investors and second-home purchases accounted for 16% of all sales. All-cash purchases accounted for 28% of all sales. Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 2% of all sales.

Year-over-year California home prices jumped 8.7% in May – The California Association of Realtors reported that existing-home sales totaled 277,410 on an annualized rate in May, down 6% from a revised 298,860 homes sold on an annualized basis last May. There was a 2.6-month supply of homes for sale, up from a 2.1-month supply one year ago. The statewide median price paid for a home in April was $908,040, up 8.7% from a revised median price of $835,280 one year ago.

The graph below shows sales data by county in Southern California.

Have a great weekend!

Mortgage Rate Update | June 20, 2024

Mortgage rates – Every Thursday Freddie Mac publishes interest rates based on a survey of mortgage lenders throughout the week. The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that mortgage rates for the most popular loan products as of June 20, 2024, were as follows: The 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.87%, down from 6.95% last week. The 15-year fixed was 6.13%, down from 6.17% last week.

The graph below shows the trajectory of mortgage rates over the past year.

Freddie Mac was chartered by Congress in 1970 to keep money flowing to mortgage lenders in support of homeownership and rental housing. Their mandate is to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the U.S.

Weekend Events | June 21 – June 23

It’s time for some weekend fun! From KCRW Summer Nights to Conejo Valley Days, there are plenty of activities happening June 21 through June 23. Check out this weekend’s events below!

Los Angeles Weekend Events | June 21 – June 23 

KCRW Summer Nights

When: Until September 21

Where: Exposition Park

What: Everyone’s favorite NPR member station, KCRW, is hosting a series of summer concerts at various public plazas and beloved museums. This summer’s schedule is packed with familiar KCRW DJs and local buzz bands providing free, open-air music on select nights through September. Venues include Union Station, CAAM, Descanso Gardens, Bowers Museum, Century Park, the Autry, KCRW’s Santa Monica headquarters, and the lively party-till-midnight bashes at Chinatown Central Plaza. Enjoy a diverse lineup of live music in beautiful settings across the city.

Friday Night Wine Tastings

When: May 31 – August 30

Where: Hollyhock House

What: Now a cherished summer tradition in Los Angeles, Barnsdall Park’s wine tastings have made a triumphant return after a five-year hiatus. Located atop Olive Hill on the west lawn of the historic Hollyhock House, these Friday evening fundraisers offer attendees the chance to enjoy fine boutique wines provided by Silverlake Wine. For an additional $25, you can also tour the iconic Hollyhock House during the event. The experience is enhanced by a spectacular sunset and stunning 360-degree views of the city, making it a perfect summer evening outing for Father’s Day weekend.

Hollywood Fringe Festival

When: June 30 

Where: Various Venues | Hollywood

What: For a deep dive into local and international theater, don’t miss the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June. Since 2010, this event has showcased shows from emerging writers and performers, now featuring hundreds of performances. Most tickets are around $15 or less, with some shows available for free. From June 13 through 30, expect a diverse lineup including one-person shows, new musicals, comedies, and edgy dramas, all taking place across various venues in Hollywood.

 

Westside & Beach Communities Weekend Events | June 21 – June 23 

TreePeople Presents

When: Until July 20 

Where: Coldwater Park

What: Looking to spend a night at the theater? Nestled in the hills of Coldwater Canyon Park, the rustic S. Mark Taper Foundation Amphitheatre hosts the “TreePeople Presents” series, featuring diverse open-air performances. This summer, enjoy alto saxophonist Nicole McCabe, singer-songwriter Pearl Charles, and jazz vocalist Niia. The series also includes a moonlight hike and a film screening. All events support TreePeople’s Coldwater Park. Bonus: Packed picnics are welcome and encouraged.

Off the 405

When: June 1 – August 24

Where: The Getty

What: Hilltop sunset views and emerging bands make this Getty tradition a must-visit for Angelenos from both sides of the 405. This year’s lineup of free Saturday night shows includes Hailu Mergia (June 1), Slauson Malone 1 (June 15), Helado Negro (July 20), Julia Holter (July 27), and Woods (August 24). Tip: To avoid traffic and crowds, arrive early, preferably after 3pm when the parking fee drops to $15 (or $10 if you wait until the show starts). This way, you can explore the exhibits, which remain open until 8pm on Saturdays, and avoid the dinner rush.

Outdoor Movies at the Skirball

When: May 31 – July 12

Where: Skirball Cultural Center

What: Settle into the Skirball Cultural Center’s courtyard for a series of outdoor screenings. In conjunction with its exhibition, “Wild Things Are Happening: The Art of Maurice Sendak,” the Sepulveda Pass Museum will feature screenings of “The NeverEnding Story,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

 

San Fernando Valley Weekend Events | June 21 – June 23 

Garagiste Wine Festival: 9th Annual Urban Exposure

When: June 22

Where: Glendale Civic Auditorium | 1401 North Verdugo Road, Glendale

What: Discover why USA Today named The Garagiste Festival the “#1 Best Wine Festival in America” at the 9th Annual Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure in Glendale, CA. Experience over 40 of the finest, hard-to-find, high-quality micro-production wineries from across California.

Comprehensive Irrigation for California Native Plants

When: June 21

Where: Theodore Payne Foundation

What: Participants are invited to join an in-person irrigation class to learn how to water native plant gardens throughout the seasons. This three-hour course covers the essentials of irrigating California native plants, utilizing various systems and techniques. The session includes both classroom instruction and a field walk to review the Theodore Payne Foundation’s irrigation systems and management practices. Attendees will receive a comprehensive resource guide to support their learning and application of irrigation methods.

West Coast Premiere of “UNSPOKEN” + Q&A

When: June 23 

Where: Laemmle Town Center 5 | 17200 Ventura Boulevard #UNIT 121 

What: LAJFF celebrates diversity and PRIDE month with the West Coast premiere of “UNSPOKEN.” After the film, join the filmmaker and lead cast for an engaging Q&A session.

 

Conejo Valley Weekend Events | June 21 – June 23 

Summer Palooza at Community Center Park

When: June 22, 5:00pm – 9:30pm

Where: 1605 Burnley St, Camarillo

What: Pleasant Valley Recreation & Park District presents the 2nd Annual Summer Palooza at Community Center Park, 1605 E. Burnley Street, Camarillo, on Friday, June 21st, and Saturday, June 22nd from 5pm to 8pm, followed by outdoor movies at 8:30pm (Finding Nemo on Friday and Finding Dory on Saturday). This free event includes live music, food trucks, a beer garden, touch-a-truck, kids zone, lawn games, a cornhole tournament, vendors, and more. 

Summer Season at Theatricum Botanicum

When: Until October 20

Where: Topanga

What: For over 50 years, this iconic venue has attracted theater enthusiasts to its enchanting open-air stage for captivating productions. Nestled in Topanga Canyon, the 299-seat amphitheater welcomes audiences of all ages with a diverse array of plays, from Shakespearean classics to folktales. This season’s highlights include William Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, as well as ‘Wendy’s Peter Pan’, *Tartuffe: Born Again’, and ‘The Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx/Latine Vote’.

Conejo Valley Days Carnival in Thousand Oaks

When: June 21, 5pm – 11pm

Where: Conejo Creek Park South | Thousand Oaks

What: Conejo Valley Days returns in 2024, running from June 20-23 and June 26-30 at Conejo Creek Park South (Janss Road at the 23 Freeway). The festival features carnival rides, midway games, live entertainment, vendors, and fair food. Admission is $10 (cash only) for ages 10 and up, $5 for ages 5 to 9, and free for children four and under. Active military personnel can enter for free with a current ID. Limited parking is available for $5.

From TikTok’s Whee App to Netflix House and More! | Tech News

Stay connected as we bring you the latest updates on innovations and trends in the tech industry. From TikTok’s Whee App to Netflix House and more, we have you covered on the week’s major headlines. Read on for what’s buzzing across the World Wide Web.

Netflix House Retail Destinations Announced

Netflix has revealed details about its upcoming permanent retail locations, set to open in 2025 in Dallas, Texas, and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Located in the Galleria Dallas and King of Prussia Mall, these venues will occupy over 100,000 square feet each, repurposing former department store spaces. The sites will feature immersive experiences, unique food and drink offerings, and striking sculptures and murals of popular Netflix characters. This initiative aims to create engaging physical spaces for fans, echoing the nostalgic appeal of Stranger Things’ Starcourt Mall.

New AI Company Focused on Safety

Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s co-founder and former chief scientist, has launched Safe Superintelligence Inc. (SSI), a startup dedicated to creating a safe and powerful AI system. SSI aims to balance safety and capabilities, avoiding the external pressures faced by larger companies. Co-founded by Daniel Gross and Daniel Levy, SSI focuses solely on developing safe superintelligence. Sutskever, who left OpenAI amid concerns over safety priorities, emphasizes that SSI’s business model ensures progress without short-term commercial pressures.

Apple Shifts Focus to Cheaper Vision Headset

Apple is reportedly halting development of a new high-end Vision headset due to slowing sales of the Vision Pro, according to The Information. Instead, Apple is working on reducing component costs for the existing model and developing a more affordable version, codenamed N109, targeting a release by the end of 2025. The new headset aims to retain the high-res displays but will be lighter and cost between $1,500 and $2,500. Despite these changes, Apple continues to support the Vision Pro with international releases and new features.

Snapchat’s Upcoming AR AI Model

Snapchat previewed its upcoming on-device AI model that transforms surroundings using augmented reality (AR). This model allows creators to turn text prompts into custom lenses, enabling dynamic real-time transformations. Users will see lenses using this model in the coming months, while creators can start making them by year’s end. Additionally, new AI tools in Lens Studio will simplify creating custom AR effects, including face transformations and 3D asset generation. This follows Snapchat’s recent AI innovations like AI-generated snaps and a ChatGPT-powered chatbot .

Nvidia Becomes World’s Most Valuable Company

Nvidia has surpassed Microsoft and Apple to become the world’s most valuable company, driven by its key role in generative AI technology. At the close of trading on Tuesday, Nvidia’s market cap reached $3.335 trillion, with shares priced at $135.58. This significant rise, up 160% in 2024, follows Nvidia’s recent earnings report and upcoming release of the Blackwell GPU architecture. CEO Jensen Huang announced the high-cost Blackwell units, priced at $30,000 to $40,000 each, with plans for new AI chips annually.

TikTok Launches New Photo-Sharing App Whee

TikTok has introduced Whee, a new photo-sharing app designed for sharing photos with close friends, similar to Instagram. Whee allows users to capture and share real-life moments privately, emphasizing authenticity. Currently available on Android in over a dozen countries (excluding the US), the Whee app features a photo viewfinder, friend messaging, and a feed for sharing with close friends. This launch follows TikTok’s previous image-sharing app, TikTok Notes. TikTok and ByteDance have not commented further on the release of Whee.

The Best Spots for Group Dining | LA Eats

Discover the best restaurants in Los Angeles for group dining, including Osteria La Buca, Raffi’s Place, The Front Yard, Ruen Pair, and Guelaguetza. Perfect for large gatherings and celebrations.

Osteria La Buca

Location: 14235 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Despite its name, which means “hole in the wall,” Osteria La Buca is a spacious gem. Both the original Melrose spot and the newer location that opened in 2020 offer delectable dishes like rigatoni bolognese and bucatini carbonara. Reservations are recommended for group dining.

Raffi’s Place

Location: 211 E Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205

Celebrating over 30 years in Glendale, Raffi’s Place is renowned for its Persian cuisine. The family-owned restaurant features dishes such as filet mignon shish kebab, koobideh, and shirazi salad. With expansive indoor and courtyard seating, it’s perfect for large celebrations.

The Front Yard

Location: 222 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91602

Located in the Garland hotel, The Front Yard offers a dreamy patio ideal for group dining. Open from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekends, the menu includes unique options like 24-hour smoked carnitas and a plant-based butternut squash shepherd’s pie.

Ruen Pair

Location: 5257 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

In the heart of Thai Town, Ruen Pair serves affordable Thai-Chinese cuisine. The restaurant’s long tables and open seating make it great for groups, though be prepared for a wait during peak hours. In addition, parking is convenient with a large valet lot.

Guelaguetza

Location: 3014 W Olympic Blvd (at Normandie Ave), Los Angeles, CA 90006

Guelaguetza is a celebrated Oaxacan restaurant known for its spacious dining room, making group dining a breeze. Menu highlights include shareable options like queso fundido dip, meat platters, and family-style mole dishes.

Loreto

Location: 1991 Blake Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Situated in Frogtown, Loreto offers ample seating in a sleek warehouse space, perfect for group dining. Cozy corners and banquettes indoors, along with outdoor seating, provide a comfortable setting to enjoy an extensive seafood menu. Sample dishes like ceviches, tostadas, and zarandeados in this stylish and spacious venue.

Girl & the Goat Los Angeles

Location: 555-3 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Chef Stephanie Izard’s spacious DTLA dining room at Girl & the Goat can comfortably fit large groups. Likewise, the flexible seating arrangement and private dining room make it an excellent choice for group dining in Downtown LA.

Cassia

Location: 1314 7th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Booking a table in advance is key, but the restaurant’s long tables can accommodate dining groups. Chef Bryant Ng’s menu features powerful renditions of dishes like chickpea curry, Singapore chile crab, and wok-tossed lobster, perfect for sharing.

The Strand House

Location: 117 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Steps from the Manhattan Beach Pier, The Strand House offers stunning Pacific Ocean views and can accommodate groups up to 12 or even entire wedding receptions. Enjoy the cold seafood bar and a California-inflected menu in a picturesque setting ideal for special occasions.

La Cabana Venice

Location: 738 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291

Since 1963, La Cabana in Venice has been a go-to for casual group dining. Large booths and a colorful patio provide ample space for gatherings. Feast on margaritas, enchiladas, and rice and beans while enjoying the lively atmosphere, complete with occasional mariachi performances.

Our Favorite Destinations for a Day Trip | Out & About

Whether you’re an adventurer, a culture enthusiast, or just in need of some relaxation, there are incredible destinations for a day trip just a short drive away. From the artistic charm of Ojai to the coastal beauty of Laguna Beach, these destinations offer diverse experiences that cater to every interest. Explore the unique character of each location and discover your next favorite escape from the city.

1. Ojai Day Trip

Escape the hustle of L.A. with a day trip to Ojai, a charming town known for its artistic vibe and natural beauty. Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Bonnie Lu’s, explore the local shops, and enjoy a scenic hike in Los Padres National Forest. Don’t miss the unique outdoor bookstore, Bart’s Books, and end your day with a wine-tasting session at one of the town’s many tasting rooms.

2. Santa Barbara Day Trip

Santa Barbara offers a perfect blend of beachside relaxation and cultural experiences. Visit Stearns Wharf for picturesque views of the Pacific, stroll down State Street for shopping and dining and explore the historic Santa Barbara Mission. For lunch, try the famous La Super-Rica Taqueria, and finish your day with wine tasting along the Urban Wine Trail.

3. Laguna Beach

Known for its stunning coastline and artistic community, Laguna Beach is a fantastic day trip destination. Relax at Main Beach or explore the tide pools at Treasure Island. Wander through the downtown area to find unique shops and art galleries, and enjoy a gelato from Gelato Paradiso. Don’t forget to visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center for a unique wildlife experience.

4. Solvang Day Trip

Experience a slice of Denmark in California with a visit to Solvang. This quaint town is filled with charming Danish-style architecture, windmills, and bakeries. Visit the Solvang Brewing Company for a local brew, explore the town’s many shops, and make sure to stop by OstrichLand to feed the ostriches and emus. From a historical perspective, the Elverhøj Museum offers insights into the town’s Danish heritage.

5. Temecula 

For wine enthusiasts, Temecula is a must-visit. Start with a tour of the Temecula Valley Museum before heading out to explore the numerous wineries. Enjoy tastings at places like Wilson Creek Winery and Monte De Oro Winery. In addition, don’t miss the opportunity for a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards. End your day with a relaxing dinner at one of the many gourmet restaurants in Old Town Temecula.

Each of these day trips offers a unique escape from the city, whether you’re looking to relax, explore, or indulge in local flavors. Plan your trip and discover the diverse experiences just a short drive from Los Angeles.

Essential Summer Safety | Home Tips

Summer is a time for fun in the sun, family gatherings, and outdoor adventures. However, it’s crucial to keep safety in mind to ensure everyone enjoys the season without mishaps. Here are some essential summer safety tips for families, focusing on pool safety, grilling precautions, and home security during vacations.

Pool Safety

Swimming pools are a fantastic way to cool off and have fun, but they can also pose serious risks, especially for children. Here are some key pool safety tips:

  1. Supervision: Always supervise children when they are in or near the pool. Designate a responsible adult to keep a constant eye on swimmers.
  2. Fencing: Install a fence around the pool area to prevent unsupervised access. Ensure the gate is self-closing and self-latching.
  3. Pool Covers and Alarms: Use pool covers and alarms as additional safety measures. Pool covers can prevent accidental falls, while alarms can alert you if someone enters the pool.
  4. Swimming Lessons: Enroll children in swimming lessons to help them become confident and skilled swimmers.
  5. CPR Training: Ensure that at least one adult in the household is trained in CPR. This can be a lifesaver in case of emergencies.

Grilling Safety

Grilling is a popular summer activity, but it comes with its own set of safety concerns. Follow these tips to keep your grilling sessions safe and enjoyable:

  1. Location: Set up your grill in a well-ventilated area, away from your home, deck railings, and overhanging branches.
  2. Supervision: Never leave the grill unattended while it’s in use. Keep children and pets at a safe distance.
  3. Cleanliness: Clean your grill regularly to prevent grease buildup, which can cause flare-ups.
  4. Tools and Clothing: Use long-handled tools to keep a safe distance from the flames and avoid wearing loose clothing that could catch fire.
  5. Fire Safety: Keep a fire extinguisher, baking soda, or a bucket of sand nearby to extinguish any unexpected fires. Avoid using water on grease fires.

Home Safety During Vacations

Summer is also a prime time for family vacations. While you’re away, it’s important to keep your home secure to prevent break-ins and other issues:

  1. Lock Up: Ensure all doors and windows are locked before you leave. Don’t forget to secure any secondary entrances, such as garage doors and basement windows.
  2. Light Timers: Use light timers to give the appearance that someone is home. Set them to turn lights on and off at different times in various rooms.
  3. Mail and Packages: Arrange for a neighbor or friend to collect your mail and packages, or put a hold on your mail at the post office. Overflowing mailboxes can signal that no one is home.
  4. Security Systems: If you have a security system, ensure it is activated before you leave. Consider adding security cameras for extra peace of mind.
  5. Neighbors: Inform a trusted neighbor of your travel plans so they can keep an eye on your property and report any suspicious activity.

By following these summer safety tips, you can help ensure that your family enjoys a fun, safe, and worry-free summer season. Whether you’re lounging by the pool, grilling up a feast, or heading out on a vacation, a little preparation and vigilance can go a long way in keeping everyone safe.

Economic Update | Week Ending June 15, 2024

Economic news this week – Interest rates fell on tame inflation data – This week several reports suggested that inflation was cooling after picking up earlier in the year. On Wednesday the May Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures were released. Consumer prices increased 3.3% year-over-year in May, down from a 3.4% year-over-year increase in April. On a month-over-month basis, consumer prices held flat for the first time since July 2022. Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 3.4% year-over-year, its smallest annual increase since April 2021. On Thursday, the Producer Price Index (PPI), a gauge of prices that producers get for their goods and services in the open market, was released. It showed that wholesale prices declined 0.2% month-over-month in May, following April’s surprise 0.5% increase. Year-over-year the PPI increased 2.2%. The core PPI increased 2.3% year-over-year. Economists had expected a 2.5% increase, so this was also good news. The graph below shows the trend of the CPI rate since 2021.

Stock markets – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 38,589.16, down 0.8% from 38,898.99 last week. It is up 2.4% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 5,431.16, up 1.6% from 5,346.99 last week. The S&P is up 13.9% year-to-date. The Nasdaq closed the week at 17,688.88, up 3.2% from 17,133.13 last week. It is up 17.8% year-to-date.

U.S. Treasury bond yields – The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 4.20%, down from 4.43% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 4.34%, down from 4.55% last week. We watch bond yields because mortgage rates follow bond yields. The 10-year was 4.28% on Thursday and shot up to 4.43% Friday after the hot jobs report was released.

Mortgage rates – Every Thursday Freddie Mac publishes interest rates based on a survey of mortgage lenders throughout the week. The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that mortgage rates for the most popular loan products as of June 13, 2024, were as follows: The 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.95%, down from 6.99% last week. The 15-year fixed was 6.17%, down from 6.29% last week.

The graph below shows the trajectory of mortgage rates over the past year.

Freddie Mac was chartered by Congress in 1970 to keep money flowing to mortgage lenders in support of homeownership and rental housing. Their mandate is to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the U.S.

May home sales figures will be released next week by the California Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. You can get that data now for your county, city, or zip code at RodeoRE.com.

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads!

Mortgage Rate Update | June 13, 2024

Mortgage rates – Every Thursday Freddie Mac publishes interest rates based on a survey of mortgage lenders throughout the week. The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that mortgage rates for the most popular loan products as of June 13, 2024, were as follows: The 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.95%, down from 6.99% last week. The 15-year fixed was 6.17%, down from 6.29% last week.

The graph below shows the trajectory of mortgage rates over the past year.

Freddie Mac was chartered by Congress in 1970 to keep money flowing to mortgage lenders in support of homeownership and rental housing. Their mandate is to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the U.S.

From Sony’s Alamo Acquisition to Apple and More! | Tech News

As June continues on, we’re staying connected with what’s happening in the world of tech. From Sony’s Alamo Acquisition to Apple Pay and more, we have you covered. Read this week’s tech news blog below for the major headlines, you want to know!

Sony Pictures Acquires Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a popular movie theater chain known for its unique movie-dining experience. The theaters will be managed under Sony’s new division, Sony Pictures Experiences, while Alamo Drafthouse will continue to operate its 35 cinemas across 25 metro areas with Michael Kustermann remaining as CEO. The Alamo Drafthouse acquisition includes maintaining the Fantastic Fest film festival. Sony is purchasing Alamo Drafthouse from Altamont Capital Partners, Fortress Investment Group, and founder Tim League, who acquired the chain after its Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2021. This move follows the 2020 reversal of the Paramount Consent Decrees, allowing movie distributors like Sony and Netflix to own theaters again.

Apple Expands Apple Pay to Non-Safari Browsers

Apple is expanding Apple Pay to work on non-Safari desktop web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, and even Windows PCs, as reported by MacRumors. Demonstrated in a WWDC 2024 video, users will soon be able to click an Apple Pay button on these browsers, scan a special code with an iPhone running iOS 18, and complete transactions on their phone. Previously limited to Safari on Macs, this update will increase the visibility of Apple Pay buttons across the web. Additionally, the video detailed iOS 18’s redesigned event tickets in Apple Wallet, set to debut this fall.

Meta Enhances WhatsApp Video Calls for Large Groups

Meta is enhancing WhatsApp video calls with features that benefit large group conversations. A new speaker spotlight feature will automatically highlight the current speaker on-screen, while improved screen sharing will now include audio when showing videos. Additionally, video calls will support up to 32 participants across all devices, removing previous limits on the desktop apps. These updates are set to roll out over the next few weeks.

TikTok Launches “Off the Record” Video Series for Musicians

TikTok is launching a new video series, “Off the Record,” to help musicians promote their music on the platform. Produced by TikTok, the series features artists like Shakira, Charli XCX, and Meghan Trainor discussing their inspiration and creative process in short clips. The videos are shared throughout June, with a dedicated hub available via the #OfftheRecord search. This initiative is part of TikTok’s ongoing efforts to support artists and strengthen connections between them and their fans.

OpenAI, Microsoft, and Oracle Collab for Increased Compute Capacity

A partnership has been announced by OpenAI, Microsoft, and Oracle. The move will provide more computing capacity for running ChatGPT. OpenAI will utilize Microsoft’s Azure AI platform on Oracle’s infrastructure to meet the growing demand for its services. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman emphasized the need for additional infrastructure, and the Oracle deal aims to scale OpenAI’s operations. While OpenAI has primarily relied on Microsoft, which has invested $13 billion in the company, this partnership highlights the necessity for more compute resources. Despite potential sensitivities, OpenAI assures that its strategic relationship with Microsoft remains unchanged, with core model pre-training continuing on Microsoft’s supercomputers. Notably, Oracle also supports xAI, a rival AI company founded by Elon Musk.