Illustration: Axios/Lazaro Gamio

Venture capital has certainly fueled some truly impactful companies over the years (Apple and Google, for instance) — but what if it's not the right funding mechanism for all companies?

The backdrop: Clearbanc, a San Francisco- and Toronto-based startup, just raised a fresh $50 million (in addition to the $70 million it raised last month) to be an alternative to equity investing for certain companies, mostly e-commerce businesses. The idea is that these companies shouldn't be giving up precious equity just to fund their proven customer acquisition activities.

How it works: After Clearbanc's proprietary tools analyze a company's internal data, such as its Stripe transactions and Facebook advertising campaigns, Clearbanc disburses funds to the company, which then has to repay it back, plus about a 6% fee.

  • "Equity is ultimately risk capital" that should be used to research and develop new tech or businesses, Clearbanc co-founder and CEO Andrew D'Souza told me. And for e-commerce businesses that won't ever provide the type of returns that VCs expect, it's better they keep their equity and build their businesses.
  • Emergence Capital partner Santiago Subotovsky, who led the firm's investment in Clearbanc and sits on its board, agrees, which is why he doesn't see this as being competitive with his own industry.
  • On the other hand, Hustle Fund partner Elizabeth Yin wonders if eventually it'll mean that such alternatives will lead to adverse selection — early companies still searching for a business model or marketing strategy will be the ones asking for VC investments while their peers with cashflow avoid it.
  • This year, Clearbanc has doled out more than $100 million to over 500 companies, D'Souza says. Most of the funding it's raised went into two funds it manages to finance its customers, and a small portion has been invested into its own operations.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tesla is the company of the moment — the prime exemplar of just about any big and important trend that you might care about.

Why it matters: Almost every reader of finance and business news will have at least one strongly-held opinion about Tesla. What you might not realize is just how widely those opinions range, and the degree to which they map onto much broader views of the world.

Gallup: Party preference swings dramatically in favor of Democrats

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Americans' political party preferences have swung sharply from a 2-point Republican advantage in January to an 11-point Democratic advantage in July, according to Gallup's monthly averages of telephone polls in 2020.

The big picture: The dramatic shift is more a product of fewer people identifying as Republican or Republican-leaning (down 8% since January) than gains among those who identify as Democratic or Democratic-leaning (up 5%).

Nancy Pelosi: "I yearn for other Republican presidents"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called on President Trump Thursday to exercise "the full power" of the Defense Production Act to meet coronavirus equipment needs and accused him of engaging in a "massive dereliction of duty" by ignoring science during the pandemic.

What she's saying: "I yearn for other Republican presidents," Pelosi said at a press conference. "While we may have disagreed on many points, but at least we had a shared commitment to the governance of our country."