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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Snowflake on Wednesday went public in the largest software IPO of all time, and then kept running like the Energizer Bunny on speed. By the time it was over, the company was worth over $80 billion.

Background: Snowflake was founded in 2012 to build data warehousing and analytics services for other businesses — audaciously seeking to both compete with Amazon while also building on top of it.

  • It raised seed funding at a valuation south of $6 million, led by Sutter Hill Ventures. Sutter Hill's stake, including shares acquired in later rounds, was valued at around $12.5 billion at yesterday's market close.
  • For context, the entire U.S. venture capital market raised only $25 billion in the year of Sutter Hill's initial investment.
  • Snowflake's final VC round, just seven months ago, valued the company at $12.5 billion.

What happened yesterday: Applying logic or fundamentals analysis to tech stocks right now is a fool's errand, but two possible explanations for why Snowflake's debut stood out from the froth.

  • Warren Buffett's halo: Berkshire Hathaway committed to buy $250 million of stock from the company, concurrent to the IPO, and another 4 million shares from insiders ($480m at IPO price). Not only was it Berkshire's first IPO play since Ford Motor Company and first-ever tech IPO investment, but it also was because money-hemorrhaging Snowflake seemed to clash with Buffett's typical investing gospel.
  • The *other* Oracle: Many investors are desperately seeking the next tech whale, having already exposed to the hilt on FAANG. So why not follow the crowd like they've done so successfully before, particularly if they feel that one of Snowflake's most formidable rivals is preoccupied with TikTok?

What's happening: Snowflake shares melted a bit at the open, and as of this writing are down around 10% to $226 per share (the IPO price was $120 per share).

What to watch: Tomorrow's listing for gaming company Unity Software. Not because it competes with Snowflake, but because it's utilizing a new online bidding process that's designed to find the most efficient IPO price.

  • If successful, this could be a game-changer, given that Snowflake arguably left more than $3.5 billion on the table yesterday via the "pop."
  • Both Snowflake and Unity share a lead IPO manager, Goldman Sachs.

Go deeper: Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva goes deeper with early Snowflake investors

Go deeper

SEC finally approves NYSE's direct listings with capital raise

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission finally approved on Tuesday a rule change that will allow companies doing direct listings on the New York Stock Exchange to simultaneously raise primary capital.

Updated 19 mins ago - Science

China launches first astronauts to new space station

The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Shenzhou 12 mission carrying three astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning Beijing time.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy China's new space station. This will be the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.

Biden's two-step negotiating process

President Biden departs Geneva. Photo: Martial Trezzini/Pool/AFP via Getty

President Biden's summit "reset" was less about trying to make a friend out of Russia than reframing what the U.S. believes can be accomplished by engaging with President Vladimir Putin.

Driving the news: The Geneva meeting yielded no immediate breakthroughs beyond agreements about ambassadors returning to work and plans to launch talks on nuclear security. But in classic Biden fashion — aviators on, jacket off and a one-liner about invading Russia he had to clarify was a joke — the U.S. president used a post-summit news conference to explain his approach.