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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 18 mins ago - World

Over 70 dead in worst bombardments between Israel and Hamas for years

Palestinian Muslims exchange wishes for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, near a razed building in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on May 13. Israeli forces said they had killed a senior Hamas commander in May 12 airstrikes. Gaza's health ministry said children died in the strikes. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At least 67 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in fighting between Israel's military and Hamas since Monday, per Reuters.

The big picture: The worst aerial exchanges of fire between Israel and Hamas since 2014 continued into early Thursday. It comes days after escalating violence in Jerusalem that injured hundreds of Palestinians and several Israeli police officers during protests over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes.

Biden admin grants Colonial waiver to ease fuel shortages

Fuel tanks at Colonial Pipeline Baltimore Delivery in Baltimore, Maryland on Monday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration approved a temporary waiver of shipping requirements late Wednesday to help Colonial Pipeline transport fuel, as service resumes across the U.S. following a ransomware attack that that took it offline last week.

Why it matters: The century-old Jones Act requires ships to be built in the U.S. and crewed by American workers, but the waiver means foreign companies can transport gasoline and diesel to areas where there are fuel shortages.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Don McGahn agrees to closed-door interview with House panel on Russia report

Former White House counsel Don McGahn during a discussion at the NYU Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former White House counsel Don McGahn agreed Wednesday to speak with the House Judiciary Committee about former President Trump's alleged attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation — with certain conditions, per a court filing.

Why it matters: The agreement ends a two-year standoff after McGahn, a key player in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, repeatedly refused to agree to a subpoena for testimony — resulting in the matter being taken to court.