Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

"The Fixer" book cover art. Image: Tusk Strategies

"At the end of the day, politics comes for you." That's a hard reality startups must face and embrace, according to Bradley Tusk, an ex-Mike Bloomberg campaign manager turned tech investor.

Why it matters: Tusk has parlayed his career’s lessons into a new book, “The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups from Death by Politics,” which he hopes can help startups operating in highly regulated industries like transportation, sports betting, and cannabis.

Top lesson: “You've got to take government and politics seriously because it can make or break your business,” says Tusk. After years in politics, he decided to open a consultancy to help businesses launch political-style campaigns on public issues.

  • In 2011, he was introduced to Uber’s then CEO, Travis Kalanick, who needed some help dealing with New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission.
  • Uber was also the first client he took on in exchange for startup equity (in part). “I had no idea what it was!” exclaims Tusk when asked if he knew his Uber equity would one day be so valuable. “To his credit, the deal was very fair — I would have signed anything.”

One increasingly popular tactic for startups is to get their customers to become their political activists, and pressure officials on their behalf—as Uber did in New York City in 2015.

  • But: “It only works when people are really passionate about your product,” says Tusk. "People really didn’t like the taxi system and were really passionate about Uber...FanDuel is another example of that.” Airbnb, however, is an example where that would be much harder to execute, he says. (The home-sharing company, which defeated a San Francisco ballot measure in 2015, would probably argue otherwise.)
  • It also turns out that you can’t always win against city hall, as one of Tusk’s investments, scooter startup Bird, learned last month when San Francisco decided not to give the company a permit to participate in its pilot program. Tusk says that S.F. is an outlier and Bird has been embraced by many other cities, not all of which are enacting such tight regimes.

The big picture: Tusk’s book includes guides to help startups deal with a number of political dilemmas, but he also argues for the value of applying a “basic conscience” in those situations.

  • Tusk worked for then-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and briefly for Lehman Brothers before the bank went under, which reinforced that "very obvious message," he says.

Go deeper: 🎙Listen to Axios's Dan Primack chat with Tusk on Monday's Pro Rata podcast.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”