Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Integrity Marketing Group, a private equity-backed distributor of life and health insurance products, on Tuesday told its 750 employees that they'll receive an aggregate payout of $50 million as a "recognition of their success" in growing the business. They'll also all become eligible for company stock, subject to 12-month vesting and continued employment.

The big picture: Corporate America has talked a big game in 2019 about how it must do a better job of serving all stakeholders, not just investors.

  • This is an example of a company putting its money where its mouth is, serving as a welcome rebuke to skeptics like me.

Details: Private equity firm HGGC first invested in IMG in 2016 and has used it as a consolidation platform.

  • Just this year alone, the Dallas-based company has acquired 18 smaller insurance product distributors, all around the country. Earnings over that time have grown by around 800%. HGGC did a dividend recap, and the company recently announced a minority equity investment from Harvest Partners.
  • Proceeds from that deal will be used to fund the $50 million payout — which averages out to $66,000 per employee, although actual distributions are lumpier (the smallest check size is $7,500).

What they're saying: "We got to the $50 million number by retroactively calculating what people would have gotten had we begun giving equity when we started with HGGC," says IMG CEO Bryan Adams (no, not that Bryan Adams).

  • "Equitizing employees is never a bad idea. ... I think of it as being more part of old-school private equity, which I think is coming back," says HGGC partner Steve Young (yes, that Steve Young).

The bottom line: I don't know if Young is right or if IMG and some recent KKR deals will remain exceptions to the prevailing rule. But I want him to be.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 5,150,590 — Total deaths: 164,681 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits — U.S. producer prices rose last month by the most since October 2018.
  4. Public health: America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.

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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted congratulations to Marjorie Taylor Greene, a vocal QAnon conspiracy theorist who won the Republican nomination in Georgia's deep-red 14th Congressional District runoff.

Why it matters: The president's approval illustrates how the once-fringe conspiracy theory has gained ground within the GOP. Greene is among the at least 11 GOP candidates for Congress who have openly supported or defended the QAnon movement or some of its tenets, per Axios' Jacob Knutson.

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Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joshua Lott/Stringer.

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