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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Venture capital activity has persisted in the COVID-19 era, as investors and founders have accepted virtual meetings as viable alternatives to the in-person standard.

What comes next: If society returns to "normal" at some point next year, will that also apply to pitch meetings, board meetings, etc?

Why it matters: One positive byproduct of the pandemic has been that investors have been more willing to entertain deals outside their ZIP codes.

  • After all, there's little difference right now between meeting with a startup based on the other side of the country or the other side of the city.
  • For entrepreneurs in oft-overlooked geographies, it's created a new opportunity.

What they're saying: Venture capitalists I speak with are split on the intrinsic value of returning to "the office," in keeping with white-collar workers everywhere.

  • Most believe that they've been just as productive as in the past, or even more so, by working at home.
  • At the same time, they're missing the tactile piece of advising founders. "The nurturing process is really important, particularly at the early stages, and I do think that will come back because what we have now is a bit of an awareness deficit," says Kevin Turner, the former Microsoft COO who just invested in a new firm called Fuse Venture Partners (more on that below).
  • There's also a concern among some younger VCs that the pandemic has made it more difficult for them to network. Or, as a Sand Hill Road associate recently explained it to me: "The way I become partner is to bring the next unicorn into my firm, and I do that by going out every night and meeting with tons of people — which is something a lot of our partners don't do, because they're older and have families. But, now, we're all at the same bar called Zoom."

Go deeper: Venture capital open for business on record amounts of dry powder

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 4, 2020 - Health

Air pollution connected to higher COVID-19 death rates

Smokestacks in Florida. Photo: Getty Images

A new study of more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. finds a correlation between higher levels of particulate air pollution and higher death rates from COVID-19.

Why it matters: COVID-19 may be caused by the novel coronavirus, but the outcome of an infection is influenced by everything from age to race to the environment. Understanding the connection between disease and pollution can help us address those risks going forward.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Nov 4, 2020 - World

Italy imposes regional lockdown as coronavirus cases spike

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (c) made the call. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Much of Italy will be placed under a strict lockdown as of Friday in the most drastic steps the country has taken to fight the coronavirus since it led the world into lockdown nearly eight months ago.

The big picture: Italy managed to keep the spread of the virus largely under control for months after a brutal first wave. But like much of Europe, it's currently recording unprecedented daily case counts and scrambling to avoid a return to overcrowded hospitals and climbing death tolls in the coming weeks.