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Amazon to acquire MGM Studios for $8.5 billion

Amazon announced Wednesday it reached a deal to acquire MGM Studios for $8.45 billion, including debt. MGM is the home to several blockbuster franchises, including James Bond.

Why it matters: The deal — Amazon's second-largest acquisition ever, behind the $13.7 billion Whole Foods deal — marks a major milestone in the tech sector's push into entertainment.

Between the lines: MGM is a logical asset for Amazon to sweep up, given that it's one of the few remaining independent media assets available for purchase, alongside a handful of other studios and networks like Lionsgate and AMC Network.

  • Other tech giants like Apple and Netflix have reportedly eyed MGM, but ultimately passed on buying it. Tech companies have traditionally been hesitant to buy content companies that they could instead build themselves.
  • Amazon has already built its own movie studio, but the addition of MGM could strengthen it significantly increase the amount of content it would own and be able to license to other TV networks or streamers.

The big picture: The WarnerMedia-Discovery deal announced last week has sparked a frenzy among media companies looking to get even bigger to compete.

What to watch: While the Amazon deal is unlikely to face much antitrust scrutiny, policy experts expect it to heighten calls for antitrust legislation. Some lawmakers already started weighing in amid rumors of the potential deal.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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