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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 8 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker