Feb 22, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

😎 Happy Friday! If you're in D.C. this morning ... Join Evan Ryan and me at 8:30 a.m. for an Axios News Shapers event with Jennifer Garner and Save the Children's Mark Shriver, who'll discuss early childhood education.

  • And we'll talk millennial voting with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and the 2020 invasion with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R).
  • RSVP here. Event is at 1011 4th St NW (at L Street).
1 big thing ... The minotaurs: Meet the billion-dollar babies
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

What's better than being a unicorn — a private company worth a billion dollars? Raising a billion dollars.

  • Meet the minotaurs — the term Axios' Felix Salmon coined for companies that would be worth more than $1 billion even if all they did was to take the cash they raised and put it in a checking account.
  • Axios found 55 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 five 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.

Why it matters: 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.

Go deeper.

2. Stunning scale of global Catholic crisis
Pope Francis greets a Vatican Swiss guard as he arrives Thursday to open the sex abuse prevention summit at the Vatican. (Vincenzo Pinto/Pool Photo via AP)

As the Vatican continues its four-day bishops' summit on dealing with sex abuse by priests, this stunning roundup by AP Vatican correspondent Nicole Winfield shows starkly that this is "a global problem that requires a global response":

  • Argentina: Pope Francis' home country is beginning to see an eruption of the scandal, with some cases even implicating failures by the pontiff himself.
  • Australia: A four-year national investigation found 4,444 people were abused at more than 1,000 Catholic institutions between 1980 and 2015. 7% of Catholic priests in Australia in 1950-2010 were accused of sexually abusing children.
  • Chile: Chilean criminal prosecutors have staged a series of raids on the church's secret archives to seize documents. They have opened more than 100 investigations into abusive priests.
  • Germany: The German Catholic Church concluded at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014. More than half the victims were 13 or younger and most were boys. Every sixth case involved rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved. 969 abuse victims were altar boys.
  • Ireland: Tens of thousands of children suffered wide-ranging abuses in church-run workhouse-style institutions.
  • U.S.: About 70 dioceses and religious orders have released lists of accused priests, according to BishopAccountability.org. Pennsylvania alone found 300 priests sexually abused at least 1,000 children since the 1940s. Prosecutors in more than a dozen states have opened similar investigations.
3. Trump team sees Mueller endgame
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

President Trump's team believes Robert Mueller will submit his report "imminently," but is unsure exactly what that means, two sources familiar with the situation tell Jonathan Swan.

  • These sources say the Mueller team hasn’t had a substantive or consequential conversation with Trump’s lawyers in weeks.
  • That, coupled with an inactive grand jury and members of Mueller’s team returning to their old jobs, has led Trump’s team to anticipate that Mueller could be done any day now.
  • The bottom line: Swan has seen no evidence that there's any sense of panic or great urgency inside the White House even as the end of the probe appears imminent. 

CNN reported Wednesday that the Mueller probe could end as soon as next week, with the special counsel submitting his findings to the new attorney general, Bill Barr. 

  • Trump's second North Korea summit, in Hanoi, is next Wednesday and Thursday.
  • "I don’t think they’d put it out while the President is in Vietnam," a source close to Trump told Axios. “But, hey: They put out something major while he was in Helsinki [with Putin last year], so who knows?"

What's next: Barr will be responsible for deciding how much of Mueller’s work to make public. Democrats in Congress will apply tremendous pressure for a comprehensive release.  

4. Pic du jour
John Locher/AP

Vegas got its most significant snowfall for this date since record-keeping started in 1937. [Updated]

  • Flakes dusted the Strip and stuck to the L.A. foothills. (AP)
5. Quote of the day
Roger Stone and his wife, Nydia Stone, arrive yesterday at federal court in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Gag order for Roger Stone ... U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, warning Stone that if he doesn't maintain public silence about his criminal case, she'll revoke his bail:

  • "This is not baseball. There will be no third chance. If you cannot abide by this, I will be forced to change your surroundings so you have no temptations." (N.Y. Times)
6. Cover du jour
Barry Blitt/The New Yorker

The cover of next week's issue The New Yorker is "The Real Emergency," by Barry Blitt:

  • "It seems like our President is pouring his energies (such as they are) into a fake emergency," Blitt said, "while denying the existence of a potentially catastrophic crisis like climate change."
7. American DNA expertise helps China crack down

"Chinese authorities turned to a Massachusetts company and a prominent Yale researcher as they built an enormous system of surveillance and control," the N.Y. Times Sui-Lee Wee reports:

  • "China wants to make the country’s Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, more subservient to the Communist Party."
  • "Collecting genetic material is a key part of China’s campaign ... [A] DNA database could be used to chase down any Uighurs who resist conforming."

"[S]cientists affiliated with China’s police used equipment made by [Massachusetts-based] Thermo Fisher [and] relied on genetic material from people around the world that was provided by Kenneth Kidd," a Yale geneticist.

8. The people aren't where the jobs are

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Millions of Americans have been jobless for a year or more. Many can't — or won't — go where the jobs are, Axios' Erica Pandey reports:

  • An increasing number of experts say the concentration of wealth in big cities is putting low-wage jobs out of physical reach of many workers.
  • Poorer city residents live in the "last-subway-stop" parts of cities, a couple of hours, or further, from work — and they can't afford to move.

And for the first time in the nation's history, big numbers of Americans have stopped moving for work.

  • Even when there are jobs in another city or state, they have been unwilling, for reasons no one has been able to decisively explain, to pick up and start a new life.

Go deeper.

9. Israel joins space race
This time exposure, from the shore of the Banana River near Port Canaveral, shows yesterday's launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. (Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today via AP)

"An Israeli spacecraft rocketed toward the moon for the country's first attempted lunar landing, following a launch [last] night by SpaceX," AP Aerospace Writer Marcia Dunn reports from Cape Canaveral:

  • "Israel seeks to become only the fourth country to successfully land on the moon, after Russia, the U.S. and China."
  • "The spacecraft — called Beresheet, Hebrew for Genesis or "In The Beginning" — will take nearly two months to reach the moon."

Yonatan Winetraub, co-founder of Israel's SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization behind the effort, said: "This is Uber-style space exploration, so we're riding shotgun on the rocket."

10. 1 hoop thing: Shoe blowout
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Soon after Zion Williamson's shoe ripped apart, Nike's stock price took a hit. The freak injury during Duke's biggest game of the year (against UNC) sparked debates about everything, AP's Joedy McCreary reports from Durham:

  • "They ranged from the shoe manufacturer to insurance issues and whether the likely NBA lottery pick should risk his professional future by continuing to play for the top-ranked-for-now Blue Devils."

What happened: "Playing before a crowd littered with celebrities — from Spike Lee to former President Obama — Williamson was hurt in the opening minute of the game as his Nike PG 2.5, from Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George’s signature sneaker line, tore apart."

  • "The 280-pound Williamson is one of the most powerful players in the game, and he tried to plant with his left foot as his right foot was slipping."
  • "The blue rubber sole ripped loose from the white shoe and Williamson’s foot came all the way through the large gap."
  • "He ended up in an awkward-almost-split ... He walked to the bench and a few minutes later headed to the locker room, leaving the wrecked shoe under his chair."

Nike became "the target of ridicule on social media. A spokesman said Nike has begun an investigation into what it called an 'isolated' event."

  • No. 1 Duke lost to No. 8 UNC, 88-72.
Mike Allen