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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public market investors are turning a more critical eye toward "unicorn" startups, particularly those with lax governance and big losses.

Why it matters: This comes after years of laser focus on top-line growth, and is challenging for older startups that had geared their business models to the old normal.

  • WeWork is the most obvious example, with its new co-CEOs frantically seeking to shed assets and slow expansion.
  • Postmates was supposed to have filed its IPO registration by now, but hasn't.
  • There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other mature startups caught with their income statements down.

What comes next could be familiar for anyone who's ever tried to find a plumber: More demand than supply.

  • Unicorn growth has been driven by an unprecedented number of large, later-stage venture capitalists. This includes not only the $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund, but also hedge funds and mutual funds.
  • These "VC tourists" will thin out, putting companies in capital limbo.
  • Some startups will get ghosted by their "founder-friendly" VCs.
  • The result could be a wave of rescue rounds, in which share prices are crammed down, or outright fire-sales.

The bottom line: For companies with reasonable controls and paths to profitability, all systems remain go. We are, after all, still in the longest-ever bull market for public equities.

  • But for unicorns that never looked beyond the trough, it could be slaughter season.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.