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Photo: JOSEPH EID / AFP

Venture capitalists are on pace to invest over $100 billion in U.S. startups for the second straight year, including a record number of rounds more than $50 million. This might be the industry's high-volume mark.

The big picture: The dizzying numbers have been driven by an influx of new money that has helped companies stay private longer. But much of that new money comes from what I've previously referred to as "VC tourists" — or investors for whom startups aren't their core competency.

  • These include hedge funds, mutual funds, leveraged buyout firms, etc.
  • Some of this has been institutionalized, in terms of hiring teams.
  • All of it can be quickly abandoned, even in a low-rate environment, if the IPO market stagnates and returns go red. Tourists, after all, eventually head home.
  • One big wildcard is SoftBank, since its theoretical Vision Fund 2 would be larger than most other tourist allocations combined.

Many traditional VC firms also now play in the mega-space, raising dedicated growth equity funds either to make new investments or to support existing portfolio companies.

  • These could have more staying power, but not much more. Venture's history is littered with side-strategies that were dumped in favor of "returning to our knitting."

The bottom line: The new normal could soon give way to the old normal.

Go deeper

Scoop: Over 200 papers quietly sue Big Tech

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Newspapers all over the country have been quietly filing lawsuits against Google and Facebook for the past year, alleging the two firms monopolized the digital ad market for revenue that would otherwise go to local news. 

Why it matters: What started as a small-town effort to take a stand against Big Tech has turned into a national movement, with over 200 newspapers involved across dozens of states.

1 hour ago - Science

Exploding demand for laboratory space

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Office occupancy rates remain deflated across industries, but one type of workplace is in high demand: labs.

The big picture: A number of trends — in public health, American demographics and venture capital funding — are colliding to supercharge the life sciences industry.

Axios-Ipsos poll: Shrugging off Omicron

Expand chart
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: The last question only includes 589 employed respondents; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Most Americans aren't willing to make big changes in their behavior to minimize the risk from the Omicron variant, like avoiding indoor restaurant dining or cancelling their holiday travel plans, according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll.

The big picture: The poll found support for some broader public responses, including one — travel bans aimed at people from other countries — that was widely supported by people across the political spectrum. But it found that Americans are only willing to do so much on their own.