Feb 22, 2019

Meet the startups that have raised more than $1 billion

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Being a unicorn — a private company worth a billion dollars — isn't cool. You know what's cool? Raising a billion dollars. Just yesterday, food delivery company DoorDash announced $400 million in new venture capital funding, bringing its total funding to $1.37 billion.

The big picture: Meet the minotaurs — our term for the companies that would be worth more than $1 billion even if the only thing they did was to take the cash that they have raised and put it in a checking account.

  • A billion-dollar valuation is easy if you've raised more than a billion dollars.
  • Axios has found 56 minotaurs as of early 2019. That's more than the 39 unicorns found by venture capitalist Aileen Lee when she invented the concept just over 5 years ago. (There are well over 300 unicorns today.)
  • The first minotaur was Alibaba, in 2005. The first American minotaur was Facebook, in 2011, followed within a month by Groupon and Zynga.
  • 24 new minotaurs were created in 2018, a huge jump from 14 in 2017 and just 9 in 2016.

The rise of the minotaur reflects a new form of investing, epitomized by Japan's SoftBank, and a new form of company-building, dubbed "blitzscaling" by entrepreneurs Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh.

The big idea: If you have enough money, your investments can become self-fulfilling prophecies. The trick is to find a really big market with winner-takes-all economics. Then, spend an unholy amount of money on growing as fast as you can, and no one else will be able to touch you.

  • If you're a startup taking a meeting with SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, you know that he comes bearing both a carrot and a stick.
  • The carrot is that he can invest hundreds of millions of dollars in your company, or even billions of dollars, to turbocharge your growth and help you crush your competition. The stick is that if he doesn't, that money will go to your competitor, and you will be the company getting crushed.

Blitzscaling isn't designed to be healthy for the economy. It's a deliberate attempt to build a monopoly that can't be competed against unless you have pockets that are billions of dollars deep.

  • It's the promise of monopoly rents in the future that makes billion-dollar investments attractive in the present.
  • The other side: You don't need to raise billions of dollars in order to scale into a monopoly. As Tim O'Reilly points out in a recent critique of blitzscaling, Google raised only $36 million before its IPO. Even Amazon raised only $108 million in venture capital before it went public.

Go deeper: The 55 private companies that have raised more than $1 billion in equity capital.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 716,101 — Total deaths: 33,854 — Total recoveries: 148,900.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 136,880 — Total deaths: 2,409 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health