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A Pingpod studio in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen. Photo: Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios

We've had laser tag studios, indoor golf and even indoor skydiving, and now a ping-pong pro wants to bring his favorite sport to a corner near you.

What's happening: A team of entrepreneurs, including a table tennis phenom from the Philippines, has started up Pingpod, which operates two indoor studios in New York City (with more coming soon, including one in Philadelphia).

  • People can play ping-pong on demand 24/7 at its studios, and book tables online.
  • "We call it an autonomous concept: There are no employees working here onsite, so you make a reservation, you show up, you play, you walk out, and we have a great security system to make sure everyone is following protocol and keeping the place safe," David Silberman, one of the business partners, told NY1.
  • Another partner is Ernesto Ebuen, a six-time Philippine national table tennis champion.

Details: Not only can players find partners online through the "Pingpod community," they can also play against a paddle-wielding robot.

  • "If everyone in New York has a place to play within 20 blocks of them, I think that a lot more people will play a lot more regularly," NY1 quotes Silberman as saying.

My thought bubble: With pickleball now a national phenomenon, could ping-pong be next?

Go deeper

More venture capitalists are hatching startups

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Venture capitalists are known for spotting and investing in promising upstarts, but an alternative approach is growing in popularity: incubating.

Why it matters: With startup investments pricier and competition stiffer, some investors are setting up startup studios or incubating companies — a trend that's expected to continue accelerating.

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

The Robinhood M&A rumor mill churns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Robinhood's valuation is now just over $11 billion, a fraction of where it traded in August and below that of its last private round of funding. Cue the M&A mongers.

Why it matters: It's not just Robinhood—falling values of growth-oriented tech stocks have raised speculation that formerly high-flying fintechs could be snapped up by more well-capitalized buyers.