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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.

Go deeper

Making sense of Biden's big emissions promise

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden's new U.S. emissions-cutting target is a sign of White House ambition and a number that distills the tough political and policy maneuvers needed to realize those aims.

Driving the news: This morning the White House unveiled a nonbinding goal under the Paris Agreement that calls for cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52% by 2030 relative to 2005 levels.

Biden pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52% by 2030

U.S. President Joe Biden seen in the Oval Office on April 15. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

The Biden administration is moving to address global warming by setting a new, economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50% to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Why it matters: The new, non-binding target is about twice as ambitious as the previous U.S. target of a 26% to 28% cut by 2025, which was set during the Obama administration. White House officials described the goal as ambitious but achievable during a call with reporters Tuesday night.

Health care workers feel stress, burnout more than a year into the pandemic

Photo: Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, some 3 in 10 health care professionals say they've considered leaving the profession, citing burnout and stress, a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll out Thursday indicates.

Why it matters: Studies throughout the pandemic have indicated rising rates of depression and trauma among health care workers, group that is no longer seeing the same public displays of gratitude as during the onset of the pandemic.