Juul is the No. 1 e-cigarette on the market. (Staff photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Juul Labs, a startup that makes electronic cigarettes, is reportedly raising $1.2 billion in a financing round that would value the company at $15 billion, Bloomberg reports, a massive jump from what investor Fidelity valued it last month ($4 billion) and a staggering number given private e-cigarette funding virtually disappeared this past year.

Why it matters: Juul is succeeding in a market where many other e-cigarette companies have failed, despite continuing regulatory uncertainty.

The intrigue: Juul has mastered a sleek and discreet design that other e-cigarettes don't have. Juuls are easy to clean, charge, and refill the pods containing the vaping juice. For that, Juul has more than 50% of the market share and is up 700% in revenue from last year, Nielsen reports.

  • The e-cigarette market taps in at about $2 billion, and sales for Juul could go as high as $1 billion for 2018.
  • In an effort to appeal to the FDA, Juul announced it was changing its social media and marketing policies to deter looking trendy and appealing to youth.
The bleak competition
  • NJOY, one of the first companies to make and sell e-cigarettes, raised $165 million in its last round. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2016 as the FDA announced its ability to regulate NJOY's products and all other e-cigarette companies.
  • Tobacco giant Philip Morris International has seen its stock drop by almost a third in the last year. The company has attempted to catch up with the shift among younger customers toward e-cigarettes and vaping, per The Information.
  • R.J. Reynolds’ Vuse brand of e-cigarettes has seen its market share drop by more than 50% in the last year, according to data from Nielsen and Wells Fargo.

What to watch: As Juul is winning in a bleeding market, investors are left to decide if the San Francisco-based company is an opportunity to dominate the e-cigarette market or if it will fall as fast as it soared.

Still, the business for e-cigarettes is expected to rise at an annual growth rate of 17%, higher than 12% in 2017, per Nielsen.

The other side

Juul had until June 19 to turn in any paperwork to the FDA relating to Juul’s marketing campaigns, product design, and consumer complaints on the product as it relates to youth use. Those will be very important in examining if Juul is marketing itself as a “cigarette alternative” for adult smokers, and its potential contributions to a tobacco problem in younger generations.

The numbers that matter: E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among the youth, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • In 2016, more than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, including 4.3% of middle school students and 11.3% of high school students.
  • In 2016, only 3.2% of U.S. adults were current e-cigarette users.

Go deeper: The Juul, explained (via Vox)

Go deeper

Deadly Hurricane Zeta pummels Alabama after Louisiana landfall

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," it began lashing Alabama late Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Consumer confidence sinking Testing is a windfall.
  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.

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