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Lux Capital raises $800 million for its first opportunity fund

Lux on Thursday announced that it raised $675 million for its seventh early-stage fund and $800 million for its first opportunity fund.

Why it matters: Lux Capital is one of the original "frontier" tech venture firms, investing in startups that leverage colliding scientific advancements to create new categories. And now it's got a lot more money in the bank, so it seemed like a good time to check in.


Target areas: Lux co-founders Josh Wolfe and Peter Hébert tell me that they're particularly interested in two sectors:

  • Tech of science: This is hardware enabling breakthroughs, including both tools and instruments, with Lux believing the market will be bolstered by geopolitical competition. A sub-category here is lab robotics and automation — the idea of remote labs with scientists "at the beach" — which could help speed and resolve reproducibility.
  • Space: Sure, this isn't exactly novel in 2021. But I hadn't heard someone before describe the opportunity as succinctly as did Wolfe: "It's railroads turned vertical instead of horizontal."

Peer pressure: While Lux differs from many other VC firms in terms of industry strategy, it's decision to raise an opportunity fund is very familiar: Later-stage sizes are exploding and Lux wants to hold onto ownership positions in its own high-flyers (around 80% of the fund is expected to go to existing portfolio companies).

  • For context, CB Insights reported this morning that there are now more than 700 global unicorns. And we really need a new word to describe the largest VC-backed startups and a new valuation threshold, as the "unicorn" framing no longer cuts it. My inbox is open (dan@axios.com).

The bottom line: Frontier tech investing can have lower hit rates than traditional consumer or enterprise tech VC, or even biotech, but the successes are often more consequential.

GM boosts investment in electric, autonomous vehicles by $8 billion

General Motors plans to boost its cumulative investment in electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion from 2020-2025, a significant jump from a $27 billion target.

Driving the news: GM said this morning that the initiative will include building two new battery cell manufacturing plants in addition to the two already under construction in Tennessee and Ohio.

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Biden administration buys 200 million additional doses of Moderna’s COVID vaccine

The Biden administration has purchased an additional 200 million doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, the biotech company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Moderna says the additional doses could be used to vaccinate children or — if necessary — as a booster shot.

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Live updates: Biden and Putin land in Geneva ahead of summit

President Biden is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for five hours of talks on Wednesday, a highly anticipated summit that comes as both sides say U.S.-Russia relations have sunk to a new post-Cold War low.

The latest: Putin arrived in Geneva shortly before 7 a.m. ET and traveled via motorcade to Villa La Grange, a mansion set in a 75-acre park overlooking Lake Geneva. Biden arrived at around 7:20 a.m. ET. The two leaders are expected to take a photo with Swiss President Guy Parmelin before the meeting begins.

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Biden-Putin summit: What to expect when you're not expecting much

After a bitter blast from Putin and tough talk from Biden, both sides agree: Don't count on much from Wednesday's summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What they're saying: "We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting," a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Air Force One from Brussels to Geneva. "No breaking of bread."

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Florida's early reopening could make it a business travel mecca

As post-pandemic business travel comes back, experts say Florida's reopening policies should allow it to lock in a significant share of returning corporate events and meetings.

Why it matters: There's a lot of money to be made — with a lot of people itching to travel — after the sector lost $97 billion in spending last year, according to a new Tourism Economics analysis by the U.S. Travel Association.

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There isn’t a worker shortage in the U.S. — there’s been a worker awakening

Many politicians, pundits and business owners have said pandemic-era enhanced unemployment benefits are keeping would-be workers at home. But that's a much too simplistic explanation of today's employment situation.

The big picture: Many hard-hit sectors are rebounding faster than anecdotal evidence would suggest. And when jobs are hard to fill, a broader worker awakening over the past year is part of the reason.

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Biden's surprise pick for FTC chair, a leading tech critic, is already rocking boats

By naming tech critic Lina Khan to chair the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday, the White House made clear it is dead serious about antitrust enforcement and other measures to rein in Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

The intrigue: By naming Khan FTC chair just hours after the Senate confirmed her appointment as one of five commissioners at the agency, the White House took both the industry and many D.C. insiders by surprise.

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MedPAC says higher prices drove up Medicare drug spending

The amount Medicare spent on drugs that are dispensed at pharmacies increased 26% from 2013 through 2018, members of the Medicare Advisory Payment Commission wrote in their new annual report.

Why it matters: MedPAC members put the spotlight on pharmaceutical companies, attributing "nearly all of the growth ... to higher prices rather than an increase in the number of prescriptions filled by beneficiaries."

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