Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Virtually Human Studio

Virtually Human Studio (VHS), a platform used to virtually race horses using NFTs, has raised a $20 million Series A round from The Chernin Group, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz and Red Beard Ventures.

Why it matters: The company's virtual horse racing platform, called "ZED RUN," has created a new model for horse racing that enables participants to not only bet on their horses 24/7, but also own the horses as NFTs (non-fungible tokens), or put more simply — digital assets.

  • “What the team at Virtually Human Studio is building fundamentally alters what it means to be a fan," said Jacob Smilovitz, vice president at TCG, in a statement. "Fans are now empowered to come down from the bleachers, become owners themselves and play an active role in determining the outcome of the game.”

How it works: The platform, which runs on blockchain technology, allows horse racing fans to engage more deeply in the horse-racing process, from breeding their own virtual horses to selling or betting on them.

  • The horses themselves are considered “breathable" NFTs, which carry a set of attributes that allow them to change over time.
  • The attributes include fatigue and race track preference, as well as genetic profiles like bloodline and breed that help determine how well the virtual horses race and breed.
  • Real money is spent with virtual racing. Like regular NFTs, there’s a limited supply of ZED RUN Genesis racehorses ranging from $130 to $45,000. Horses have traded for over $125,000 on the secondary market. Whole stables can sell for over $250,000.
  • ZED RUN itself doesn't take bets but users can make money by breeding and racing their own horses. VHS takes a fee from breeding and race revenue.

Details: VHS is incorporated in Australia, but has 50 employees that work remotely around the globe. The company was founded by Chris Laurent and Rob Salha in 2019. ZED RUN is VHS' first big platform product. To date, the company has more than 125,000 connected users with 14,000+ unique stable owners.

The big picture: ZED RUN shows ways blockchain can take industries to new heights. The tech not only allows consumers to participate in the horse racing experience 24/7, but they are also able to participate in events themselves as horse owners and breeders.

  • Blockchain has been used to revolutionize many other markets, such as cryptocurrency, and it's just now starting to be used to change the entertainment, sports and gaming industries.

Bottom line: "The market opportunity here is huge," says VHS co-founder Rob Salha.

  • It "moves horse racing from a sport dictated by physical limitations to one unbound and virtual," he added.
  • "This means more races, more owners, more spectators, more upside to all that want to be involved. It makes horse racing a 24/7 sport."
  • "And we think there’s an opportunity to bring this same concept to many areas of sports and entertainment far beyond horse racing."

Go deeper

DHS temporarily suspends use of horse patrol in Del Rio

U.S. Border Patrol agents watch as Haitian immigrant families cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas on Sept. 23, 2021. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol in Del Rio, Texas a DHS spokesperson confirmed.

Why it matters: The suspension comes after images showing border patrol agents whipping at and charging their horses at migrants surfaced earlier in the week, prompting widespread criticism of the Biden administration's handling of the crisis at the border.

Everyone wants to be an influencer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The number of people looking to become online influencers has exploded during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Almost anyone can find themselves in a position to become an influencer, and brands are throwing billions of dollars at online content creators.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.