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Cameo, a Chicago-based startup that lets fans pay for personalized videos from celebrities, is finalizing a Series B investment at around a $300 million valuation, Axios has learned from multiple sources.

Why it matters: It does sound a bit silly to base a company on video shout-outs from Brett Favre ($500), Flavor Flav ($175), and Disco Cowboy ($2) — but the VC bet is said to be a combination of high growth (the deal was competitive) and a belief that Cameo management has a strong handle on the talent side of the ledger as opposed to just consumer behavior.

Details: Kleiner Perkins is leading, with other new investors said to include Spark Capital.

  • Cameo previously raised $18 million from Chicago Ventures, Bedrock and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
  • Kleiner Perkins and Spark declined comment, while Cameo's CEO didn't reply.

Bonus: Gilbert Gottfried singing Baby Shark to a 1 year-old.

Go deeper: TikTok rising in the U.S.

Go deeper

23 mins ago - Economy & Business

Clean trucks are paving the road to the electric vehicle era

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The electric vehicle revolution is underway, led by the un-sexiest of plug-in models: the commercial truck.

Why it matters: Growing demand for cleaner trucks means 2021 will be a pivotal year for electric vehicles — just not the kind you might have expected.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.