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Photo by Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese coffee shop chain Luckin Coffee raised $150 million in new funding led by Blackrock, which is Starbucks' second-largest outside shareholder, at a $2.9 billion valuation.

Why it's a big deal: Because this will help fuel Luckin's caffeinated sprint against Starbucks, during which it has employed the Silicon Valley hypergrowth strategy of using venture capital to support deep pricing discounts.

The Financial Times reports that Luckin "plans to open 200 to 300 outlets a month, putting it on track to overtake Starbucks, which has over 3,300 locations in China, by the end of this year."

  • Blackrock, which pumped $125 million into the round, has a 6.58% stake in Starbucks, valued at around $6.2 billion.
  • Maybe it’s a hedge, or perhaps Blackrock believes there will be multiple winners — particularly as Starbucks focuses more on in-store purchases and Luckin focuses more on delivery.
  • But it’s got to annoy Starbucks, as Luckin has eaten into its market share by offering deep discounts that Blackrock’s investment will only perpetuate.

Go deeper

Buffett eyes slow U.S. progress, but says "never bet against America"

Warren Buffett in New York City in 2017. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Warren Buffett called progress in America "slow, uneven and often discouraging," but retained his long-term optimism in the country, in his closely watched annual shareholder letter released Saturday morning.

Why it matters: It breaks months of uncharacteristic silence from the 90-year-old billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO — as the fragile economy coped with the pandemic and the U.S. saw a contentious presidential election.

Restaurant software meets the pandemic moment

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Food delivery companies have predictably done well during the pandemic. But restaurant software providers are also having a moment as eateries race to handle the avalanche of online orders resulting from severe in-person dining restrictions.

Driving the news: Olo filed last week for an IPO and Toast is rumored to be preparing to do the same very soon.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Technology

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than outright destroying jobs, automation is changing employment in ways that will weigh on workers.

The big picture: Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.