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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A run-of-the-mill Zoom happy hour isn't going to fly with employees who are accustomed to fancy end-of-year corporate holiday parties.

Here's how some companies are trying to make this year's pandemic-friendly, virtual holiday bash special.

  • Remote, a human resources startup that was launched this year, is distributing virtual reality headsets to all 60 employees so they can have an in-person holiday party experience.
  • Akrete, a public relations company, has organized a 1.5-hour video party that will begin with a mixology class and end with CEO Margy Sweeney personally toasting and thanking each employee. Staff will be sent kits with ingredients to make two cocktails at home.
  • PayPal is putting together a 29-hour virtual event that employees can pop in and out of as they please. The agenda includes cooking classes, a magic show, circus performers and a dance-off.

The bottom line: It's not easy to organize virtual parties and constantly think of new, creative, fun things to do. Take the time to thank the human resources folks at your company who are trying their darnedest to make the best of a crappy year.

Go deeper

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Updated 36 mins ago - Health

This arthritis drug cost $198 in 2008. Now it's more than $10,000

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2008, a box of 30 anti-inflammatory rectal suppositories that treats arthritis, called Indocin, had a price tag of $198. As of Oct. 1, the price of that same box was 52 times higher, totaling $10,350.

Why it matters: As federal lawmakers continue to waver on drug price reforms, Indocin is another example of how nothing prevents drug companies from hiking prices at will and selling them within a broken supply chain.

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.