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The 2020 election’s polling errors are eerily similar to four years ago

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Joe Biden was forecast to win the election comfortably with wide margins. And while he did pull out a victory—claiming 306 electors—the state-level results are much closer than expected: The Democratic nominee was forecast by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight to win Wisconsin by 8.3 percentage points and Pennsylvania by 4.7 points, however, he only took the states by 0.6 points and 1.2 points, respectively.

So just how far off are pollsters and forecasters?

Now that most states have certified their election results, Fortune calculated 2020 model/polling errors. The difference between a battleground state’s projected margin and the final result is its “polling error.”

We found that polling errors this cycle are on par with 2016. In the 14 battleground states, FiveThirtyEight was off by an average margin … Read the rest

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The biggest tech news you missed over Thanksgiving

Good morning, Term Sheet readers. I’m glad to be back from Thanksgiving break, when I finally gave up trying to like turkey and opted for lasagna.

Much like lasagna (forgive the pun), the news layered on over the long U.S. holiday as investors continued to take advantage of these strange market conditions to IPO or merge with other businesses.

Here are five things you need to know to jumpstart your week:

(FINANCIAL) DATA IS EVERYTHING: In a mega Monday merger, S&P Global agreed to acquire market data provider IHS Markit for an eye-popping $44 billion, including $4.8 billion in debt. The transaction will be completed entirely in S&P Global stock. Meanwhile, the London Stock Exchange is seeking clearance for its plans to acquire data provider Refinitiv for $27 billion.

AIRBNB AND DOORDASH SEEK EVEN HIGHER VALUATIONS: Airbnb, which was valued at $31 billion in 2017 before succumbing to … Read the rest

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These 5 major gym chains still make it annoyingly hard to quit

Gyms have been among COVID-19’s most dramatically impacted victims, due to the transmission risks of packing heavily breathing people into a confined space for hours at a time. But there’s one thing the pandemic hasn’t changed: It’s still exasperatingly difficult to get out of a gym contract.

Fitness clubs have long relied on long-term membership agreements to prevent flighty customers from abandoning their New Year’s resolutions without a financial penalty. But given the public health considerations of the coronavirus pandemic, gyms’ generally stringent membership cancelation policies—specifically, requirements that members must visit a physical location or send a certified letter to terminate their contracts—have come into relief.

Information on outbreaks linked to gyms paints a hazy picture. Since the summer, numerous COVID-19 outbreaks have been tied to fitness centers, including ones in Elmhurt, Ill., San Diego, and Hawaii’s Oahu island.

Data released by the Minnesota Department of Health … Read the rest

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Tony Hsieh, retired Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh, the retired CEO of Las Vegas-based online shoe retailer Zappos.com who spent years working to transform the city’s downtown area, has died. He was 46.

Hsieh was with family when he died Friday, according to a statement from DTP Companies, which he founded. Downtown Partnership spokesperson Megan Fazio said Hsieh passed away in Connecticut, KLAS-TV reported.

Puoy Premsrirut, a lawyer for Hsieh, told news outlets that Hsieh had been injured in a house fire while visiting Connecticut. Additional details weren’t immediately released. An official cause of death wasn’t announced.

“Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, and forever brightened the world,” a DTP Companies statement said. “Delivering happiness was always his mantra, so instead of mourning his transition, we ask you to join us in celebrating his life.”

Hsieh recently retired from Zappos after 20 years leading the company. The online shoe retailer shared … Read the rest

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Gift Guide: How to turn your outdoor space into a year-round living room

Winter came especially early this year to Chicago—the first snowflakes were spotted on October 26th, to be exact. In this part of the country people are already used to braving the elements, but with COVID still running rampant, having an outdoor space that is usable (no matter what the temperature) has become the best way to ensure you can keep socializing with other humans during the darkest and coldest months of the year. Here, we tracked down six essentials for making your outdoor space feel like your favorite indoor space this winter.

Solo Stove Bonfire, $284

You may have thought most of society’s great leaps forward in terms of innovation recently have been in gene editing, or perhaps app design. But don’t underestimate fire pits, particularly the Solo Stove’s “smokeless” model. As the company explains it, “Strategically placed holes in the double-wall structure suck the air from the bottom … Read the rest

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Delta and Alitalia are bringing back quarantine-free flights between the U.S. and Europe

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Through the use of repeated COVID-19 testing, Europe and the U.S. are going to establish the first quarantine-free air corridors since the coronavirus pandemic led countries to isolate arrivals.

Delta and Alitalia will be operating the flights from next month. However, with both the U.S. and Europe maintaining heavy restrictions on who can enter from the other side, these are still just trials of procedures that are only likely to be widely rolled out in the summer of 2021.

From December 19, Delta said Thursday, it will start operating test flights between Atlanta and Rome in which passengers do not have to go into quarantine on either end.

However, they will have to take a series of tests to make this possible.

Roman protocol

Those travelling from Hartsfield–Jackson … Read the rest

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It’s the age of the mega fund

This is the web version of Term Sheet, a daily newsletter on the biggest deals and dealmakers. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

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