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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 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.