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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Axios reported last week that two former 500 Startups partners are raising a $50 million to invest in startups at the pre-seed stage. Then came an announcement that a new pre-seed fund called Afore Capital was launching with a $47 million debut fund. But what is "pre-seed" and why is the term showing up more and more?

Short answer: Today's seed rounds are yesterday's Series A rounds, and pre-seed is the old seed.

More: Investors tells Axios that pre-seed rounds typically total less than $1 million, sometimes replacing what used to be fundraising from friends, family or individual angels. They come before more formal seed rounds that now often raise $2 million or more.

Other players include K9 Ventures, XFactor Ventures and Notation Capital.

Why now? VC firms have been raising larger funds (both seed and early stage), there are many more copycat startups (making it harder for investors to pick one) and investors taking longer to write checks (even if that means writing a bigger one to seal the deal). Moreover, seed investors want to see more evidence that a company and its idea are viable, increasing expectations of budding startups.

  • In Q2 2017, the median U.S. seed deal was $1.6 million, up from $0.6 million in 2014, according to research firm PitchBook.
  • Those increased check sizes put more pressure on seed investors to make sure startups are viable before investing.
  • The seed stage has become pretty crowded, so pre-seed is an area where new firms can find some open space.

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AOC and Ilhan Omar want to block Biden’s former chief of staff

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are boosting a petition against Joe Biden nominating his former chief of staff to a new role in his administration, calling Bruce Reed a "deficit hawk” and criticizing his past support for Social Security and Medicare cuts.

Why it matters: Progressives are mounting their pressure campaign after the president-elect did not include any of their favored candidates in his first slate of Cabinet nominees, and they are serious about installing some of their allies, blocking anyone who doesn't pass their smell test — and making noise if they are not heard.

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Butterball estimates that it sells one out of every three Thanksgiving turkeys, but knows that this year's celebrations will be different than years past.

Axios Re:Cap talks with the turkey giant's CEO Jay Jandrain about what people are buying, what they're asking the "Turkey Talkline" and what the pandemic has meant for his business.

Biden introduces top national security team

President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Tuesday at an event introducing the incoming administration's top national security officials, where he told the story of his stepfather being the only one of 900 children at his school in Poland to survive the Holocaust.

What they're saying: "At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the woods in Bavaria. From his hiding place, he heard a deep rumbling sound. It was a tank. But instead of the iron cross, he saw painted on its side a five pointed white star," Blinken said.