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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.

Go deeper

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight — hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts.

The big picture: Air quality alerts were issued Wednesday for the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.

Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Federal judge: Florida ban on sanctuary cities racially motivated

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing sanctuary city policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.