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It’s the age of the mega fund

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Good morning, Term Sheet readers. Finance reporter Anne Sraders here, filling in for Lucinda. 

VC fundraising just booked a new record: U.S. VC funds raised a total of $69.1 billion so far in 2020, beating the high set in 2018 of $67.8 billion, according to PitchBook

And we have Andreessen Horowitz to thank for that. The firm closed two massive funds on Friday: one $1.3 billion fund for early-stage consumer and fintech companies, and another $3.2 billion fund focused on later-stage investments. (Mega funds over $1 billion like a16z’s made up a record 15% of all U.S. VC funds raised this year as of September.)

Part of the funding frenzy owes to the “move from on-premise to cloud, from laptops … Read the rest

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It’s the great San Francisco exodus

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The pandemic is the last straw for some San Francisco-based tech leaders. 

Startup investor Keith Rabois recently revealed plans to leave the tech hub in favor of Miami, telling Fortune, “I think San Francisco is just so massively improperly run and managed.” Now Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and Splunk CEO Douglas Merritt reportedly plan to make Austin their new permanent residences, per The Information, and Brex co-founders Henrique Duburgras and Pedro Franceschi have landed in Los Angeles.

Oh, and Palantir co-founder and 8VC Founding Partner Jon Lonsdale has decamped for Austin

Each has his own motivations—be it the city’s management, the wildfires, the high taxes, or some combination of all of the above—but here’s a notable excerpt from Lonsdale’s … Read the rest

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Autonomous delivery startup Gatik raises $25 million in Series A funding

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Autonomous vehicle startup Gatik announced today that it has raised $25 million in a Series A funding round led by Wittington Ventures and Innovation Endeavors. The company did not disclose its valuation in the deal.

Gatik also announced a new agreement with Loblaw Companies, Canada’s largest supermarket operator, to create a fleet of self-driving delivery vehicles. The announcement follows a ten-month pilot in Toronto. Gatik already has a similar agreement with U.S. giant Walmart.

Gatik cofounder and CEO Gautam Narang describes his company’s goal as addressing the “middle mile” of autonomous transport, between long-haul trucking and last-mile delivery robots. Gatik’s fleets will also be limited to fixed routes, which Narang describes as a realistic approach to the current state of self-driving technology.

“Over the last few years … Read the rest

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COVID put electronic trading to the test. It’s never buckled, Goldman Sachs says

Elizabeth Martin is betting on engineers to automate trading but not necessarily to make things faster.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s global co-head of futures and equities electronic trading says that the ‘Flash Boys’ era of the past decade has ceded some ground to customizing trading for clients.

“I’ve never in my career bet against innovation or smart people being able to make things faster,” she says. “There will be some amount of improvement in speed and latency but in terms of the differentiated drivers of what a broad base of clients need in order to deliver execution for them, it’s less important, because most of the big scale providers offer those services.”

Martin, a 20-year Goldman veteran, relocated to London three years ago and oversees the Wall Street bank’s electronic stock trading business. Martin spoke with Bloomberg about the pandemic, the future of finance and zipping around the city in … Read the rest

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Hawaiian paradise controlled by billionaire Larry Ellison is hit hard by COVID

Larry Ellison controls just about every part of Lanai, a Hawaiian island that for months was shielded from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.

As Covid-19 swept across the U.S. mainland in the spring and summer, Lanai didn’t have a single case. Its 3,000 residents avoided mass layoffs while tourism plunged, protected by the billionaire who owns 98% of the island.

Now, the gorgeous paradise, about 2,500 miles southwest of Los Angeles, is confronting a tough reality.

Ellison’s two Four Seasons resorts, which employ nearly a quarter of the island’s residents, laid off or furloughed almost all workers in August. Some employees returned last month for a reopening to tourists — which was then followed by a wave of virus infections. More than 100 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two weeks of October. Four have been helicoptered off because Lanai’s lone hospital isn’t equipped with a critical care unit.

“They’re … Read the rest

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Stimulus update: McConnell and Schumer discuss averting a shutdown and economic aid

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Staff for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy met on Thursday to discuss more COVID-19 relief and a spending bill to avert a federal government shutdown. The measures were discussed separately, a senior Democratic aide tells Fortune.

The most pressing matter is the government spending bill—something that is needed by December 11 in order to avert a federal government shutdown. But Capitol Hill is also under increased pressure to pass more stimulus, especially as COVID-19 cases soar and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits expire at the end of the year.

“There’s been a little bit of a breakthrough in that McConnell’s folks are finally sitting down and talking to us,” Schumer told reporters on ThursdayRead the rest

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Shopify will be a major winner in Affirm’s IPO

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The mega IPOs are shooting out of the gates again.

Following DoorDash’s filing, buzzy fintech Affirm also filed to go public on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AFRM in a deal reportedly valuing the firm at as much as $10 billion.

One big takeaway from the filing: Canadian e-commerce titan Shopify could stand to gain handsomely from the IPO. Shopify is listed as a party that owns over 5% of the business founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levichin.

In fact, Shopify could be set to become the company’s third-largest investor, leapfrogging venture firms including Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, and Lightspeed Venture Partners, each of which hold a hefty stake in Affirm and have invested in the company far longer, according to … Read the rest

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Electric vehicle stocks recover, but the road may not end well

Last time we checked in with the electric vehicle sector at Data Sheet—about two years, sorry, two months, no, checks web archive, two weeks ago— things were not good.

The crowd of revenue-free startups planning to produce EVs down the road, like Fisker, Hyliion, and Lordstown, were plunging amid a growing aversion to risky stocks and concern that consumers might not be ready to go electric. Even market leader Tesla, which produces more than 1,500 electric cars a day, lost one-eighth its value, or about $50 billion.

But a couple of things have changed in November. For one, former vice president Joe Biden won the election. A component of Biden’s economic plan is to boost the green energy sector by building a huge network of charging and refueling stations for renewable energy vehicles, converting half a million buses to emission-free technology, and subsidizing consumers who want to … Read the rest

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Silicon Valley loses another tech icon

Silicon Valley is losing another tech heavyweight: Keith Rabois, prolific startup investor, early exec at powerhouses such as Square, LinkedIn, Yelp, and PayPal, and longtime Bay Area resident. He tells me he is “moving imminently.”

Rabois revealed his decision to decamp during our conversation at the Meridian conference, an event hosted by the cryptocurrency-focused group Stellar Development Foundation. (Rabois, an investor in Stripe, joined Stellar’s board after Stripe made an investment in Stellar six years ago.)

“I think San Francisco is just so massively improperly run and managed that it’s impossible to stay here,” Rabois said. He believes he is not alone in giving up on the Bay Area, a place he has called home for two decades. He cited anecdotal evidence about many people in his social circles leaving, and noted, “COVID sort of masks this stuff. It’s not quite as obvious where people are moving to and … Read the rest

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Can DoorDash maintain its pandemic boost?

Food delivery giant Doordash is going public at perhaps the best possible time for its business.

There’s a lot to be optimistic about in DoorDash’s filing: It is the largest food delivery player in the U.S. and has grown only larger in the pandemic. Revenue more than tripled in the first three quarters of 2020 to $1.92 billion compared to the same period last year—and it wasn’t merely through ramping up promotions or advertisements. Losses in the period after all narrowed from $533 million to $149 million. 

While the pandemic delivery story is undoubtedly one of rising tides lifting all boats, DoorDash’s boat has managed to rise higher than its competitors, taking about 49% of the market share by September 2020 compared to around 34% a year earlier.

Last valued at $16 billion, DoorDash is also no longer burning through cash, generating $315 million in those months compared to … Read the rest