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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

"That's the first time I've ever seen someone write their own obituary." That's the text message I woke up to this morning, and it was more than a bit unsettling. First thing I did was look in the mirror to make sure I was in it, then back at the bed to make sure I wasn't there too. Then it hit me: "Oh, this is about Substack."

Driving the news: Last night we reported that the email newsletter platform is raising $65 million at a $650 million post-money valuation led by existing investor Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z).

  • Social media reaction was predictably mixed. Crowing from some of Substack's most popular writers, and complaints from some of its most ardent critics.
  • Some argued that this funding is less about Substack and more about A16Z's supposed desire to destroy traditional media. Thus the text message.

We've written before about Andreessen Horowitz's own media ambitions, and I've since come to two conclusions, from speaking to those familiar with the firm's thinking:

  1. A16Z isn't investing millions into startups like Substack or Clubhouse because it holds a grudge against the so-called mainstream media.
  2. A16Z does hold that grudge, so it won't shed any tears if its investments create second-order problems for legacy publishers.

The ordering is important, because it reflects how the investment thesis is primary.

  • Marc Andreessen has talked about how he believes the internet is now in its "third wave."
  • The first wave was when no one made or spent money online. The second wave was monetization via advertising. The third wave, he argues is direct-to-creator spend, via platforms like Substack, OnlyFans, Roblox or Cameo (which today announced $100 million in new funding).
  • In this framing, online advertising was a multidecade detour.

But, but, but: Advertisers will still want a place to pitch their wares. Plus, A16Z is more focused on "content" creation than "journalism" creation (yes, there's obviously a lot of overlap).

The bottom line: Reports of the media's death, and its killer, have been greatly exaggerated. But it makes for some great texts.

Go deeper

Scoop: Substack is raising $65 million amid newsletter boom

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Substack is raising $65 million in new venture capital funding that would value the company at around $650 million, Axios has learned. Existing investor Andreessen Horowitz is leading the round.

Why it matters: Substack, which provides a platform on which writers can publish paid email newsletters and keep most of the revenue, has seen its popularity soar.

Mar 30, 2021 - Economy & Business

Cameo becomes a unicorn with latest fundraising round

Cameo website screen shot

Cameo, the app that lets fans pay for personalized videos from celebrities, is now a unicorn.

Driving the news: The company said Tuesday that its parent Baron App Inc. has raised $100 million in a round led by e.ventures, giving it a valuation of just over $1 billion.

13 mins ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

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