Jan 8, 2020

Startup raises money from Jeb Bush and Bill Gates to stop mass shootings

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Evolv Technology, a Waltham, Mass.-based developer of weapons screening systems for large crowds, raised $30 million in Series C funding from such backers as Jeb Bush and Bill Gates.

Why it matters: We live in the age of mass shootings, in which attending school or a concert is potentially fatal. Evolv is an alternative to traditional, "one-person-at-a-time" metal detectors, able to simultaneously screen large flows of people, including at Lincoln Center and select schools in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

  • Jeb Bush? Yup, he has a new merchant banking firm called Finback Investment Partners, and Evolv is its first deal. Bush's partner, George Huber, says Finback was formed late last year, as a successor to Dock Square Capital (i.e., similar model, slightly different team).
  • Return backers include Gates, DCVC, General Catalyst Partners, Lux Capital, and SineWave Ventures.

The bottom line: "We're in the Biltmore, a high-end hotel in North Carolina, which doesn't allow guns even though North Carolina is an open-carry state. So [the hotel] is able to monitor incoming weapons without putting guests through obtrusive metal detectors, and ask those who do have guns to please go back out and put them in their car. In the first year our system was installed, that happened around 1,500 times." — Peter George, Evolv CEO

Go deeper: New research encourages CEOs to take a tougher stance on gun control

Go deeper

Where 2020 Democrats stand on gun control

Warren and Biden on the debate stage on Jan. 14. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a new gun reform bill on Thursday with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) that calls for raising the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21 and increasing the excise tax on gun sales to 30% and ammunition sales to 50%.

The big picture: 2019's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Virginia Beach; and near Odessa, Texas, have pushed 2020 Democrats to take harder stances on gun control than in the last presidential election, when Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton only briefly addressed the issue in their primary debate.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Venture capital slowly seeps outside of Silicon Valley

Adapted from Pitchbook; Chart: Axios Visuals

Venture capital investment is seeping out from Silicon Valley to the rest of the country, but the West Coast still dominates the market by a wide margin.

Why it matters: Venture capital investment can play a crucial role in building fast-growing, tech-based economies like those of the Bay Area, Seattle, Austin, New York and Boston. But VC investors don't typically stray outside those markets to look for the next big thing.

Go deeperArrowJan 15, 2020

Gun control group Everytown to spend $1.25 million on competitive state legislatures

Protesters at a rally hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety plans to roll out $1.25 million for digital ad campaigns in five states where control of the legislatures is at play this year, Everytown first told Axios.

Why it matters: The group has committed to spending a total of $60 million on 2020 elections. This newest campaign will focus on pressuring competitive state legislatures, including in Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, to move forward on gun safety legislation.

Go deeperArrowJan 30, 2020