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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Upstream, a startup that facilitates professional online communities and virtual networking events, has raised $3.25 million in seed funding led by Ibex Investors.

Why it matters: The pandemic's constraints on in-person interactions created a big void, both for those seeking to network within their industries, and for those yearning to interact with colleagues.

  • Startups ranging from Gatheround (formerly called Icebreaker, focused on team and workplace video chats for bonding ) to Hopin (virtual event software tools) have also raised funding in recent months, underscoring the consumer demand.

Between the lines: Upstream's video chat virtual events were not initially the app's focus — rather, it's a feature the startup quickly built when the pandemic set in, says co-founder and CEO Alex Taub.

  • It's hosted events with notable names like Sen. Cory Booker and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
  • One increasingly popular use case for the chats that also emerged over the last year is helping coworkers mingle. General Electric used the service for a virtual gathering of employees across several offices around the world, for example.
  • Interest from corporate customers is also why Upstream is rolling out a web version of its service.

The big picture: Upstream ultimately aims to challenge LinkedIn — or at least provide a better alternative to some of its features.

  • It's starting with professional communities, but eventually wants to expand into areas like the "digital resume" and helping people follow up with new professional connections more effectively, says Taub.

Go deeper

Pacific Northwest soon to be ground zero for record-shattering heat

Computer model projection showing the unusually strong heat dome over the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. (PivotalWeather).

A heat wave is bringing unprecedented high temperatures to the Pacific Northwest — a region of the country typically cooled by the ocean, rather than central air conditioning. The heat will begin Friday and last into early next week.

Why it matters: The heat wave will shatter monthly and all-time temperature records in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the records could break the old milestones by several degrees.

At least one person killed, 99 missing after deadly Miami-area condo collapse

A massive search-and-rescue operation is underway after a portion of a 12-story residential building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed at approximately 1:30 a.m. Thursday, according to AP.

The latest: Officials have accounted for 102 people who lived in the high-rise Champlain Towers South, but 99 people remained unaccounted for by midafternoon, said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Biden strikes infrastructure deal with bipartisan group of senators

President Biden announced Thursday that he had agreed to a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan with a bipartisan group of ten senators, declaring: "We have a deal."

Why it matters: The agreement on the size and scope of an infrastructure package is a major achievement for Biden, who has long been a proponent of bipartisanship, but the compromise still faces serious hurdles in the House and Senate.