UCI’s accolades continue to come in, with the Irvine school being named the 9th place Best Public University in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and 39th best overall. It’s the second straight year UCI was in the top 10. The magazine evaluated more than 1,800 schools for its rankings, with 1,374 of them making a list. UCI was ranked third on Sierra magazine’s Cool School list for being an “eco-leader” among 200 top schools “doing the most to save the planet.” UCI is the only university to score in the top 10 on the green list for seven straight years.
In a prior issue, Irvine City News reported on the economic impact of the automobile industry in the city. The sector will see a new member when Karma Automotive moves its headquarters to the 262,000-square-foot Irvine building that used to house Kawasaki Motors USA. The site will also be home to the first Karma-branded store selling the Karma Revero plug-in hybrid. Karma emerged from the bankruptcy of Fisker Automotive, when Wanxiang Group, a Chinese conglomerate that makes automotive components, bought its assets for $149 million at auction in 2014.
Rob Pardo, the former Blizzard Entertainment Inc. exec who was key in creating the company’s “World of Warcraft” multi-billion-dollar bestseller, has started a gaming studio in Irvine called Bonfire Studios. Pardo’s startup is reportedly funded by venture capitalist Andreesen Horowitz (who helped launch Irvine-born Oculus toward its $2 billion Facebook buyout), along with gaming company Riot Games. The latter is owned by Chinese gaming mega corp. Tencent. Once Blizzard’s partner, observers now consider Tencent one of Blizzard’s key rivals in global gaming, so much so that if a disgruntled former Blizzard whiz wants startup funds, it’s the first place to call. Blizzard has some 2,000 local employees and revenue of $1.56 billion.