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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

The social audio craze that exploded during pandemic-driven lockdowns looks like it is here to stay, thanks to big investments from Silicon Valley.

Driving the news: Clubhouse said Sunday it closed a new Series C funding, valuing the buzzy live audio app at $4 billion, sources tell Axios. That's an astonishing number for an app that's still in beta and has no revenue.

  • The round is being led by Andrew Chen at Andreessen Horowitz. Other participants include DST Global, Tiger Global, and Elad Gil.

Meanwhile, Facebook is looking to roll out a suite of new audio products on Monday, Recode reports.

  • Facebook is reportedly eyeing a podcast product, a live audio app that could rival Clubhouse, and an asynchronous voice messaging feature that lets users leave voice messages for one another on their News Feeds.
  • Spotify last month acquired Betty Labs, an app developer, and a live audio app developed by Betty Labs called Locker Room. Axios' Dan Primack reported that the deal was worth around $80 million and Spotify paid in cash.
  • Twitter's audio feature Spaces is reportedly soon coming to desktop.
  • Discord last month debuted Stage Channel, a feature for audio-only chat rooms.
  • Apple could well deliver its own audio news as part of a product launch event Tuesday. The company declined to comment ahead of the event, but a paid podcast product has long been rumored.

Yes, but: The audio craze, still in its infancy, is already beginning to reckon with the difficulties of moderating voice at scale.

What to watch: Big social media platforms are increasingly finding ways to offload content moderation onto users or third parties as they push more aggressively into new areas, like voice, that are difficult to monitor in real time.

The bottom line: Tech giants already struggling with moderation challenges are jumping headfirst into audio anyway because, for the moment at least, it is hot.

Go deeper: The pandemic has been a boon for audio

Go deeper

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.

Del Rio bridge camp empty following Haitian migrant surge

A boy bathes himself in a jug of water inside a migrant camp at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sept. 21 in Del Rio, Texas. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The last migrants camping under the Del Rio International Bridge, which connects Texas and Mexico, departed on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during a White House press briefing.

Driving the news: Thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, had arrived to the makeshift camp after crossing the southern border seeking asylum. Roughly 1,800 migrants will now head to U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing centers.