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Illustration: Axios/Lazaro Gamio

Clearbanc, a company that provides non-dilutive funding to startups as an alternative to VC funding, will lend $1 billion in capital this year through a combination of the $120 million it disclosed last year, new outside funding, and recycling its own capital.

The bottom line: "Today, 40% of VC dollars in companies are spent on Google and Facebook ads," Michele Romanow, co-founder of Clearbanc and an investor, tells Axios. "Founders are using the most expensive capital for this."

  • Instead of buying equity in a startup, Clearbanc simply charges a 6% fee for a loan. The startup shares a percentage of its revenue with Clearbanc until it's paid back.
  • Clearbanc uses data like a company's Stripe transactions and Facebook ad conversions to vet potential investments. It mostly funds e-commerce startups with consistent revenue.
  • Investors in Clearbanc's funds include CoVenture, Upper90 and Social Capital (which debuted its own similar program in 2017 called "Capital-as-a-Service").

Go deeper: Venture capital may not be a one-size-fits-all system

Editor's note: The story has been corrected to note that Clearbanc will be able to lend startups $1 billion this year (not that it has raised $1 billion, as the company originally told Axios).

Go deeper

12 mins ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).

Cuomo: "I am not going to resign"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Wednesday for acting in a way that made women feel "uncomfortable," but insisted that he has "never touched anyone inappropriately" and said he will not resign.

Driving the news: Cuomo reiterated in his first public appearance since sexual harassment allegations surfaced that he will fully cooperate with a team of independent investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, but suggested that demands for his resignation from were simply "politics."