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Illustration: Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Charles Eshelman, Steve Jennings, and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Founders Fund has raised $3 billion for a pair of new funds, so expect a slew of headlines about how "Peter Thiel's venture capital firm" is now flush with cash.

Behind the scenes: Thiel is essential to Founders Fund, but he's not autocratic. Instead, Axios has learned that he's one of three people with veto power over most FF investments, and is unable to do a deal without approval of the other two.

Driving the news: FF raised $1.2 billion for its seventh flagship fund, and $1.5 billion for its first growth-stage fund. The total increases to $3 billion once commitments from FF's own partners are included.

  • The growth fund is expected to write checks of at least $100 million, with return expectations of at least 3x. If an existing portfolio company is seeking a large check, but FF doesn't believe the new money can return a triple, it won't invest.
  • Return expectations for the flagship fund are at least 5x.

Between the lines: The FF process is quite different from how most venture capital firms approve new deals — which typically involves majority or super-majority votes by general partners.

  • FF has seven investing partners, three of whom are general partners. That latter group is Thiel, Keith Rabois, and Brian Singerman.
  • For deals under $1.5 million, any two investment team members can cut a check. This includes general partners, partners, and FF's five principals.
  • For deals between $1.5 million and $5 million, it takes one partner plus one general partner.
  • For deals between $5 million and $10 million, it's one partner and two general partners.
  • For deals over $10 million, two partners and all three general partners must approve.
  • The same rules apply whether it is a brand new deal or a follow-on investment for an existing portfolio company.
  • General partners must meet with company founders, either in person or virtually, before making their final decisions. That means any startup receiving more than $10 million must have met or at least spoken with Thiel, Rabois, and Singerman.

Singerman tells Axios that while individual vetoes do occasionally happen, they're rare:

"It's not like a deal is being worked on and then I get an email asking if I'll go along with it. We're discussing it as it progresses, which includes talking to the founders, and usually have reached a consensus so the vote becomes a formality... Sometimes we begin with only one of the three of us in support, and all end up in support, or sometimes it goes the other way."

Lauren Gross, a partner and chief operating officer, adds that the firm evaluates its deal process bi-annually, and sometimes makes small changes.

  • "The voting really is usually the least relevant part, the part we under-index," she says. "It's more about the internal debate, which is where 95% of the work happens."

The bottom line: Peter Thiel is one of the most consequential figures in Silicon Valley, even if few have publicly followed his support of President Trump. But he doesn't deserve all the credit (or blame) for Founders Fund investments.

Go deeper

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.