Expand chart
Data: Axios research; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The exclusive club of companies that have built billion-dollar content distribution businesses has a new member: SmartNews, the Japanese news discovery app that has amassed 20 million subscribers in the U.S., and raised $28 million in its latest funding round.  

The big picture: It's a small club, mainly because the media industry is in turmoil as Facebook and Google siphon ad dollars. Companies have struggled to maintain their highest valuations amid issues like missed revenue goals, layoffs and management changes.

Be smart: Private company valuations exist only because certain investors say they do at a certain point in time. There's no guarantee an acquirer or the public market will agree. 

Yes, but: It's notable that in today's bleak news market where U.S. tech giants like Google and Facebook dominate most news referral traffic online, a Japanese startup has been able to gain such traction.

What's next: Around the world, news aggregation as a business is exploding.

  • China: Toutiao, which is owned by TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, raised $2 billion in funds at an over $20 billion valuation in 2017. Qutoutiao, the 3-year-old news and video aggregation startup backed by Tencent, received a $171 million convertible loan from Chinese tech behemoth Alibaba.
  • India: DailyHunt, NewsPoint and others have also gained traction in recent years in India. DailyHunt has raised $98 million to date. InShorts, a news app that provides 60-word summaries of top stories, has raised $29 million to date.
  • Europe: Axel Springer's news aggregation app Upday is now profitable and gearing up to scale further and drive more revenue, Digiday reports. The app has 25 million users, in part due to its pre-install partnership with Samsung.

Go deeper

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 20,158,258 — Total deaths: 738,063 — Total recoveries: 12,388,686Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 5,116,791 — Total deaths: 164,137 — Total recoveries: 1,670,755 — Total tests: 62,513,174Map.
  3. States: Florida reports another daily record for deaths State testing plans fall short of demand.
  4. Axios-Ipsos poll: 1 in 2 has a personal connection to COVID-19.
  5. Business: Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for vaccine.
  6. 🏈 Sports: Big Ten scraps fall football season due to coronavirus.
55 mins ago - Sports

Big Ten postpones fall sports due to coronavirus

Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Big Ten announced Tuesday that it has voted to postpone its 2020 fall sports season, including football, due to risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, hoping instead to play in the spring.

Why it matters: The move from one of the most prominent conferences in college sports will almost certainly prompt other Power Five leagues to follow suit.

13 of Biden's former rivals to appear together at Democratic convention

Democratic presidential candidates at the primary debate in Charleston, SC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

In a show of unity at the Democratic National Convention, 13 of Joe Biden's former 2020 challengers will appear via video to talk about the party's vision for the country and how they'll work with Biden to get it done.

Why it matters: Coalescing around Biden and his eventual running mate will help Democrats head into the general election against President Trump with a united front — unlike what they did in 2016.