It’s been a dark few weeks, but there’s been some light in the past few days, as the number of patients in New York ICUs dropped for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, and there was some promising data on a potential treatment.
As Andrew Dunn reports, more than two-thirds of hospitalized COVID-19 patients improved in condition after receiving remdesivir, an experimental antiviral treatment from Gilead Sciences. More tests are needed, as the study had no control group, but the lead author called the observations “hopeful.” You can read Andrew’s story on remdesivir and 14 other leading treatments that are now being tested against COVID-19 here.
Here are the 15 leading coronavirus treatments already being tested in COVID-19 patients, and the major trials now underway to see if they work
The pandemic is upending medical research across the board, as big pharma mobilizes to find a treatment. GSK for example is betting $250 million on buzzy biotech Vir as the two team up to hunt for coronavirus treatments and vaccines. In related news, Blake Dodge reported this week that Alphabet’s life-sciences firm Verily may use its giant patient registry to help sign people up to test coronavirus treatments.
And Blake separately reported that tests that can tell if you’re immune to the coronavirus are on the way. She breaks down the companies racing to bring them to the US healthcare system here.
The flip side here, as Andrew and Blake report, is that dozens of biotechs are putting clinical trials on hold as the search for a coronavirus vaccine makes it harder to find cures for cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders.
(For more on how Andrew is covering the high-stakes race for a coronavirus vaccine, he talked to deputy executive editor Olivia Oran about his reporting.)
Meanwhile, Apple and Google on Friday announced they are building a system to track COVID-19 cases. But as Rob Price reported, the plan is let down by America’s testing failures.
Startups to watch
From Melia Russell and Paayal Zaveri:
The coronavirus outbreak has changed not only where people work from, but how they work and what tools they use.
Already, apps like Zoom and Slack have seen huge increases in usage in the past few weeks, as users grab onto ways to stay connected in their work and personal lives while social distancing.
The urgent need for better work tools could catapult some enterprise startups into the pantheon of unicorn startups, as their users multiply and venture capital investors jump to fund them.
They asked VCs to tell them about one startup in their portfolio, and one where they have no financial interest, and came up with a list of 30 startups to watch. You can read more here.
Elsewhere in startup news:
- Austin unicorn startup RigUp went from hiring “at a rapid pace” to cutting 25% of staff in a matter of weeks. Now a data breach is adding to its woes.
- $5 billion software startup Toast just slashed its workforce by 50% despite a recent $400 million funding round, as coronavirus has wiped out its main source of customers.
- Employees from Lever, the hot recruiting-software startup run by an ex-Googler, say the company just cut about 40% of its workforce as hiring dries up amid the sharp economic downturn.
- Silicon Valley startups are being forced to cut costs or die in the worst financial crisis in a generation. Here are the investors whose companies are feeling it the worst.
- Consultants who try to help VCs salvage struggling startups say the coronavirus crisis has them ‘on more conference calls than we probably ever have been.”
- Silicon Valley startups may get to tap into the $350 billion coronavirus small-business loan program after all, thanks to late rule changes by regulators.
A real estate meltdown
The week started with the news that WeWork board members are suing SoftBank for backing out of its plan to buy $3 billion of shares. Meghan Morris reported that former CEO Adam Neumann is still weighing legal options.
Meghan and Dan Geiger then revealed that WeWork rival Knotel is scrambling to pay millions in bills that started stacking up before the coronavirus hit, and hasn’t paid April rent at some locations. They also got leaked Knotel financials, which show it struggled to hit sales targets.
- Dan reported that real-estate tycoon Aby Rosen is abandoning $600 million worth of acquisitions as the coronavirus puts New York City’s multibillion-dollar sales market on ice.
- Melia Russell reported that SoftBank-backed Oyo quietly fired 110 people based on their performance. Some fired workers say it was basically impossible to close sales, and the company is only offering severance if they agree to not speak out.
- Alex Nicoll reported that real-estate brokerage Redfin is furloughing 41% of agents until September, painting a dire picture for how long the US housing market will take to bounce back.
- Real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran talked to Libertina Brant about about navigating real estate uncertainty. “For somebody like me, it’s the perfect time to buy,” she said.
- Meghan reported that private-equity giant Blackstone bet big on four huge Las Vegas casinos. Then the coronavirus brought Sin City to a halt, right as the PE giant was trying to unload one of its multi-billion-dollar jewels.
- Troy Wolverton reported that Airbnb could run out of cash in one year, even with the $1 billion it just raised, because of how devastating the coronavirus is on its business.
- Alex reported that short-term rental managers are ramping up their amenities to include masks, hand sanitizer, and large cases of wine as city dwellers look for their “destination isolation.”
Below are headlines on some of the stories you might have missed from the past week. Stay safe, everyone.
- POWER PLAYERS: Meet 20 Wall Street restructuring bankers who will navigate the defaults and bankruptcies of the coronavirus crisis
- Morgan Stanley handpicks the 18 best US stocks to buy now while they’re cheap to enjoy profits for years to come
- Buy now, pay later startups are “having a moment” — here’s why retailers like Walmart and Target are betting on installment payments to keep consumers spending
- A startup backed by Goldman Sachs is measuring shadows from space to track the world’s oil supply — and it’s yielding numbers that no one else has
- Oracle is known for making bold M&A moves in a recession and it’s sitting on a fresh $20 billion. Here are the 7 companies experts think it could acquire as the coronavirus crisis drives down valuations
- The 10 best online coding boot camps that you can sign up for right now to land a job at a tech company like Facebook or Intel
- TV advertising is a mess — meet 23 industry insiders working to fix it
- How a CEO is running a Manhattan-based brokerage from an apartment she shares with her 2 teenage kids — she swears by this daily routine from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- McKinsey created a 67-page briefing for executives with tips for responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the 9 most important slides you need to read on managing the crisis.