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New startups are brewing in Miami

Startup funding activity in Miami increased during the pandemic, but it has been largely concentrated at the earliest stages — signaling that the city is still a young hub whose primary growth comes from adding brand new companies to its ecosystem.

Why it matters: Despite a lot of noise from certain Silicon Valley techies and investors who left the area for cities like Miami, new data suggests the exodus was more temporary as some are now quietly returning to the Bay Area.

By the numbers: In the first two weeks of July, notable local deals include Lula ($18 million), Marco ($82 million) and Unybrands ($300 million). And according to data from Pitchbook:

  • 2021 Q2: $831 million invested, up 142% compared to the year-over-year period immediately after the pandemic began.
  • 2021 Q1: $224 million invested, up 109% y-o-y.
  • 2020 Q4: $216 million invested, down 68% y-o-y.
  • 2020 Q3: $218 million invested, down 23% y-o-y.

(Scroll to the bottom for data on Miami deal-making by stage.)

What they’re saying: “Pre-pandemic, there were only a few companies being built here that were a fit,” says ANIMO Ventures general partner Nico Berardi, who’s based in Miami but doesn’t exclusively invest there.

  • Of the 22 investments ANIMO’s made so far from its first fund, only one is based in Miami, though Berardi cites two other local companies he’s missed out on backing.

Between the lines: “The local ecosystem prior to COVID-19 wasn’t really committed to excellence” and had over-indexed on startup meetups relative to the depth of its startup bench, explains Berardi.

State of play: A number of entrepreneurs are setting up their new startups in Miami, including previously successful founders, says Atomic managing partner (and early transplant) Jack Abraham.

  • The arrival of investors from established VC firms like Founders Fund and Andreessen Horowitz, and SoftBank’s commitment to investing $100 million in local startups, has sent strong signals about Miami’s viability as a hub. “Symbols matter,” adds ANIMO's Berardi.
  • There’s also an uptick in VCs from Silicon Valley and other hubs taking trips to Miami to meet with local startups and network. Investors from the #Angels group, Freestyle and GV (among many others) have been in town recently — and are even inking some deals.

Of note: Big and late-stage financings have also started to creep up in Miami and the rest of South Florida over the last couple years — though some have gone to companies that have recently relocated there, like Pipe ($250 million) and Introhive ($100 million).

  • There was also no financing round above $500 million in the first half of 2021, unlike in the previous three years, as Refresh Miami's Nancy Dahlberg notes.

The bottom line: Miami’s certainly making strides in beefing up its local startup market, but Silicon Valley it is not (yet, at least).

What to watch at the Olympics today: Gymnastics, golf, 3x3 basketball, swimming

5 events to watch today...

  • 🤸‍♀️ Men’s gymnastics: Team USA’s Sam Mikulak and Brody Malone compete in the individual all-around final. Coverage starts at 6:15 a.m. on Peacock (watch the replay at 8 p.m. ET on NBC)
  • 🏀 3x3 Basketball: The women’s gold medal game between the U.S. and Russia starts at 8:55 a.m. ET on USA Network. Russia and Latvia will play in the men’s final at 9:25 a.m. ET.
  • 🏌️ Men’s golf: Round one tees off at 6:30 p.m. ET on the Golf Channel or stream on
  • 🏊 Swimming: Men’s 800m freestyle, 200m breaststroke and 100m freestyle finals and women’s 200m butterfly final. Coverage starts at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.
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National parks "drowning in tourists"

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National Parks across the U.S. are overflowing with a post-pandemic crush of tourists, leading to increased issues with congestion, traffic jams, user experience, strain on staff and increased damage to the parks.

Why it matters: Some are seeing such a record number they're being forced to limit, and even close, access to certain areas to avoid the danger of eroding the land. The result, ultimately, could change the way Americans interact with the parks going forward.

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The Biden administration is essentially asking vaccinated Americans to help save the unvaccinated from themselves.

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Least persuadable unvaccinated Americans are largely white and Republican

Data: Axios-Ipsos Poll; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The most hardcore opponents of coronavirus vaccination — the group who say they'll never get one — tend to be older, whiter and more Republican than the unvaccinated Americans who are still persuadable, according to an analysis of our Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: As the Delta variant triggers more COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, mostly among the unvaccinated, the Biden administration and even some high-profile GOP political and media figures are trying to figure out how to nudge the country's vaccination rate higher.

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Female Olympians push back against double standard in uniforms

Female Olympians in Tokyo are rejecting the uniforms that have long defined their sports, highlighting a double standard that exists how women dress in competition vs. men.

Driving the news: During their qualifying round Sunday, Germany's women's gymnastics team wore full-length unitards, eschewing the conventional leg-barring leotards worn by most female gymnasts.

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Simone Biles won't defend Olympic title at gymnastics all-around final in Tokyo

U.S. gymnastics great Simone Biles won't defend her Olympic title in the upcoming all-around final as she continues to focus on her mental health, USA Gymnastics announced Wednesday.

After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.

— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) July 28, 2021

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

DOJ declines to defend Mo Brooks in Eric Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit

The Department of Justice declined late Tuesday to represent Rep. Mo Brooks in a civil lawsuit against the Georgia congressman concerning the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Brooks had argued he should have immunity in the suit, filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) against him, former President Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the insurrection. He said he was acting as a government employee when he spoke at a rally before the insurrection.

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