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AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Unity, a San Francisco-based VR/AR gaming engine founded in 2004, has raised $400 million in new funding led by Silver Lake. Around half of the deal is a secondary, which means that it will liquidity for early shareholders (primarily employees). The company is now valued at around $2.6 billion, and previously raised over $170 million from firms like DFJ Growth, Sequoia Capital, Thrive Capital and WestSummit Capital.

Why it matters: Beyond the fact that Unity powers Pokemon Go, which was the hottest thing on the planet (and in my house) at this time last year? Okay, how about because Unity claims that half of all new mobile games and two-thirds of all AR/VR content is now made in its environment? That basically means that Unity can sidestep the "hits problem" of gaming, and instead is able to ride the industry's more secular trends.

Bottom line: "Unity's plan is to democratize game development. It has done so by creating an engine that enables games to run on just about any platform, without huge costs related to porting the games to each new platform. That allows game developers to cut their costs and generate more revenues from more platforms. In that sense, Unity frees the developers from being beholden to platform owners, who often front the cash for big game development in exchange for exclusivity." -- Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat

Go deeper

Southwest drought is worst on record, NOAA finds

In a stark new report, a team of NOAA and independent researchers found the 2020-2021 drought across the Southwest is the worst in the instrumental record, which dates to 1895.

Why it matters: They also concluded that global warming is making it far more severe, primarily by increasing average temperatures, which boosts evaporation.

47 mins ago - World

Taliban: Executions and strict punishments will return

Taliban fighters in Kabul. Photo: Oliver Weiken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Strict punishments such as hand amputations and executions will return in Afghanistan, one of the Taliban's founders said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Why it matters: Despite attempting to project a new image, the Taliban remain committed to a hard-line, conservative ideology, including harsh ruling tactics.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Investors pour millions into immersive, interactive art experiences

Photo Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

How much would you pay for "a sleek, if pleasantly confusing, package of moods" or "a confusing tangle of disjointed installations" or even "the total erosion of meaning itself"? The answer, according to the current market-clearing price, seems to be about $35.

Why it matters: Investors are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into ticketed experiences — immersive, interactive museum-like spaces that don't have the d0-not-touch stuffiness of traditional museums.