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Photo: Even

Salesforce chief Marc Benioff and PayPal Ventures are joining the latest funding round for Oakland-based start-up Even, which aims to provide a better alternative to payday loans.

Why it matters: Historically, those who need an advance on their pay often have few options and pay extremely high fees and interest rates.

Details: Even says it isn't disclosing how much it raised, saying it wants to focus not on the amount, but who is aligning themselves with the company.

  • The service now has more than 550,000 monthly active users, many from initial customer Walmart, though it has signed other unnamed large companies as well.

How it works: As we first wrote last year, Even is a subscription service that employers can offer to workers (either subsidized or not) to let them track their wages, begin saving and, when necessary, get some of their pay a bit early.

  • It charges the same amount per worker per month (roughly $6 to $8) whether they get a payday advance or not. CEO Jon Schlossberg told Axios the goal is to get people to start saving, noting 90% of people save virtually nothing each month. The advances on earned pay are meant so users without savings don’t dig themselves into a deeper hole.
  • "We don't trap you in a cycle of relying on it as can happen with many of the other products in that space," Schlossberg said. "People think it's too good to be true. That really is a scathing review of the financial services industry."

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Texas governor: "All hostages are out alive and safe"

SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Photo: Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images

All four hostages have been safely released after a day-long standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Saturday night.

The latest: "Around 9 p.m., the HRT — hostage rescue team — breached the synagogue, they rescued the three [remaining] hostages, the suspect is deceased," said police chief Michael Miller of Colleyville, located roughly 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The other hostage had been released earlier Saturday.

The new normal: Google searches reveal America's COVID shopping habits

Data: The New Normal; Google Trends; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

As the pandemic enters its third year, some of America's COVID-era shopping habits — including strong demand for tequila and sweatpants — are here to stay.

Driving the news: Axios worked with Google Trends and the Schema Design firm to create The New Normal, which analyzes the products Americans have Googled since 2020. Items with a lasting increase in search interest help fill in the details of what our "new normal" looks like.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: You can start ordering free COVID tests Wednesday — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy — Biden deploying military medical staff to help overwhelmed hospitals.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— Nurses across the U.S. strike against COVID working conditions— CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: Biden admin threatens to take back Arizona's COVID aid over anti-mask rules — Students across U.S. walkout of classes to demand safer COVID protocols — West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker