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

Unrest in Philadelphia after fatal police shooting of Black man

Demonstrators rally on Tuesday near the location where Walter Wallace was killed by two police officers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Pennsylvania National Guard was mobilized Tuesday during a tense second night of protests in Philadelphia over the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man.

Driving the news: Philadelphia Jim Kenney (D) and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a joint statement Monday that police were launching a "full investigation" to answer questions that arose from video that captured part of the incident with police.

Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage" Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse.
  2. Health: Hospitals face a crush — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota cases traced to three Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Putin mandates face masks.

Louisiana braces for 3rd hurricane in 2 months as Tropical Storm Zeta nears

Municipality workers clean the streets of garbage in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on Tuesday that was left by Zeta, which struck the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 1 Hurricane a day earlier — causing no major damage to infrastructure. Photo: Medios y Media/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane and bring dangerous storm surge conditions to parts of the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) requested a pre-landfall Federal Declaration of Emergency in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday, ahead of the storm's expected arrival south of New Orleans.