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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.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

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