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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

Wall Street wonders how bad it has to get

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is working out how bad the economy will have to get for Congress to feel motivated to move on economic support.

Why it matters: A pre-Thanksgiving data dump showed more evidence of a floundering economic recovery. But the slow drip of crumbling economic data may not be enough to push Washington past a gridlock to halt the economic backslide.

2 hours ago - Health

Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine

Photo illustration by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moderna announced that it plans to file with the FDA Monday for an emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine, which the company said has an efficacy rate of 94.1%.

Why it matters: Moderna will become the second company to file for a vaccine EUA after Pfizer did the same earlier this month, potentially paving the way for the U.S. to have two COVID-19 vaccines in distribution by the end of the year. The company said its vaccine has a 100% efficacy rate against severe COVID cases.

The social media addiction bubble

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Right now, everyone from Senate leaders to the makers of Netflix's popular "Social Dilemma" is promoting the idea that Facebook is addictive.

Yes, but: Human beings have raised fears about the addictive nature of every new media technology since the 18th century brought us the novel, yet the species has always seemed to recover its balance once the initial infatuation wears off.