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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Xfund, a seed-stage investment firm focused on university research-based startups, tells Axios that it raised $120 million for its third fund.

Why it matters: This illustrates how the pandemic hasn't really slowed down venture capital fundraising or deal-making, even for a firm focused on sparsely-populated university campuses.

Details: Xfund sources around 40% of its deal flow from Harvard, with which it has a non-financial affiliation, where most undergrads are fully remote and most grad students are either remote or have limited in-person (i.e., "hybrid") contact.

  • "The pandemic has obviously altered the university landscape, but social networks are proving to be efficient at connecting people," says Harry Lewis, a Harvard computer science professor whose students have included Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Lewis adds that there seems to be even more entrepreneurial collaboration, in some cases, because students have fewer social and extracurricular activities.

Landscape: Seed rounds, which is where Xfund is focused, did fall sharply in the first half of 2020, but much of the slowdown was concentrated in the initial shutdown months of March and April. Angel deal totals remained fairly stable, as did overall venture funding.

  • Anecdotally, some seed-stage investors tell me deals are coming together faster than ever before.
  • One high-profile investor worried, albeit anonymously, that some VCs are using the pandemic as an excuse to shirk due diligence, allowing a single Zoom call to suffice.

Flashback: Yes, this is the same Xfund whose co-founders had a nasty falling out several years back.

The bottom line: Private markets have an earned reputation for following the public markets, which are on a bull run divorced from the real economy.

Go deeper

Nov 14, 2020 - Health

America's unequal reliance on school resources

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Getty Images

Environment deeply affects adolescent wellness, and families have come to rely heavily on schools to help them meet challenges ranging from poverty and discrimination to societal pressures to succeed.

The big picture: Black, Latino and Native American students need different kinds of support beyond the classroom to do well in school and for sound emotional development into adulthood.

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.

2 hours ago - World

North Korea's military fires another ballistic missile into sea

A woman in Seoul, South Korea, walks past a television image if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

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