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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Digital payments giant Stripe yesterday announced $600 million in new funding at a $95 billion valuation, making it the most highly valued U.S. "unicorn."

Why it matters: When I began doing this job years ago, big outlier numbers were king. Like when the late J.P. Morgan Partners sought to raise $5 billion from outside investors for a global fund, or when the late Amp'd Mobile raised over $260 million in VC funding during its first year of existence.

  • Trade pubs wrote about those efforts for months, and they dominated my phone calls with unrelated investors.
  • A more recent example would be SoftBank Vision Fund.

Yes, but: Today, no one's blinking. Stripe got some Sunday headlines, and a few second-day stories, but we'll have all moved on to other things by this time next week.

  • This isn't a reflection on Stripe, which is a remarkable business.
  • Instead, it's that outsized outliers have become routine. Each one larger than the last, in a deafening, Fed-fueled cyclone.
  • Aileen Lee coined the term "unicorn" to reflect mythical rarity. Today such companies have become almost common.
  • "The Social Network" is just 10 years old, but Justin Timberlake Parker's comment about "a billion dollars" being cool is as anachronistic as Dr. Evil holding Earth ransom for "one million dollars."

Stripe didn't need the money.

  • Chief financial officer Dhivya Suryadevara tells me that it will be used to invest in growth opportunities like enterprise and Europe, but admits the round was mostly about opportunity knocking.
  • In other words, why turn down $600 million at nearly a 3x valuation from where the company raised just a year ago? Particularly when your founders are stubbornly noncommittal on going public?

The bottom line: At some point the cycle will assert itself, because that's what's always happened. For now, though, the numbers will keep going up while their significance goes down.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - World

Death toll mounts as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies

Palestinian Muslims exchange wishes for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, near a razed building in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on May 13. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At least 109 Palestinians and seven people in Israel have been killed since recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas began Monday.

The big picture: Israel began massing troops on its border with Gaza on Thursday, launching attacks from the air and ground as Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.

Democrats open to user fees for infrastructure deal

President Biden sits Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as they discuss his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.

Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.