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Uber's IPO. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Slack today will hold its "investor day," ahead of a direct public listing that's expected for early June. It may become the venture capital industry's most consequential deal since the financial crisis.

The state of play: Uber's IPO on Friday was a dud, and shares opened even lower Monday as the stock at times plunged more than 10% to below $38 per share. Some of the blame here falls on Uber and lead banker Morgan Stanley. Some of it was outside of the company's control. For most of Uber's early investors, this was still the single best deal of their careers. But much of the later-stage money is currently underwater.

  • These later-stage investors are what's driven the unicorn phenomenon, allowing companies to stay private longer at higher and higher valuations. For most, it's not their primary business. They want easy returns and IPO optionality. If they bail, everything changes.

And that brings us to Slack. The enterprise messaging platform has little in common with ride-hail giants Uber and Lyft, except that it loses (less) money, was valued (less) highly by private market investors and appears to have slowing growth.

  • Slack lost $154 million on $400.5 million in revenue for the fiscal year ending January 30, 2019.
  • That revenue figure was 81% higher than the prior year's, versus 109.5% growth between 2017 and 2018. Revenue growth was 67.5% for the three months ending April 30, 2019, versus the same period in 2018.
  • Its last private market valuation was around $7.1 billion.

If Slack goes public and trades higher, then Uber and Lyft will be viewed as unpopular outliers. The narrative will be Spotify, Zoom, Pinterest, Slack. Go long on khaki and Roadsters.

But if Slack stumbles, then a new storyline emerges. It's one in which people suddenly remember how underwhelming Dropbox has been since its March 2018 IPO — with a fully-diluted value barely above where it raised money in 2014. Go short on fleece vests and subscriptions to The Information.

  • Venture capitalists love to talk about inflection points, and that's exactly where we're at.
  • The only thing tourists like more than visiting is going back home.
  • There also was a lot of crossover money before the dotcom bubble burst, albeit at lower prices, and it disappeared very quickly.

The bottom line: Slack didn't ask for this responsibility. And there's certainly a chance that trade tumult will cause it to hit the brakes. But if Slack moves forward within the next few weeks, its results could determine if the future is full of unicorns or full of horses.

Go deeper: Uber's IPO got caught in a perfect storm

Go deeper

Updated 4 mins ago - World

German election: Exit polls show close race to succeed Angela Merkel

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — Exit polls from Sunday's German elections showed the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) slightly ahead of the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in a tight election race to succeed Angela Merkel too close to call.

The state of play: Official results were still rolling in, but a partial count showed the SPD ahead with 26% of the vote and the CDU on just over 24%.

Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney: Americans deserve better than choice of Biden or Trump

Rep. Liz Cheney talks with Lesley Stahl on CBS' "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS News

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that Americans "deserve better than having to choose between" President Biden's "disastrous" policies and former President Trump, "who violated his oath of office."

Why it matters: Cheney made the remarks after CBS' Lesley Stahl put it to her in the interview that Republicans feel that her joining the House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot helps "keep the focus on Trump instead of on the shortcomings of the Biden administration."

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First look: The LCV's $4M ad buy

A screenshot from a new League of Conservation Voters ad supporting Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

The League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power are aiming another $4 million worth of ads at centrist House Democrats, urging them to support the climate provisions in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Progressive groups are trying to counter the onslaught of conservative money pouring into swing districts. Both sides are trying to define Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and pressure lawmakers to support — or oppose — the legislation scheduled for a vote in the House this week.