In the latest episode of "Axios on HBO," Jonathan Swan interviews Bob Woodward about his new book, "Rage," which was based on 19 interviews with President Trump.
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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.
- Ours was the definition that stuck. And, last week, the number of such companies topped 800, per CB Insights, with a cumulative valuation of around $2.6 trillion.
Why it matters: With apologies to Justin Timberlake Parker, $1 billion just isn't that cool anymore. It's not rare if there are over 800 of them, and certainly not mythical.
- Plus, there's been a flurry of startups whose valuations have been inflated by investment dollars. Isn't it more impressive to be worth $500 million on $50 million of venture capital than $1 billion on $500 million of venture capital?
We need a new word: Dragons.
- Dragons are much bigger, stronger and more awe-inspiring than unicorns. They destroy whatever's in their path, and their own destruction is viewed as catastrophic (at least if "GOT" is any guide).
- To qualify, a company must be valued at $12 billion or more, net of venture funding. Yes, it's a somewhat arbitrary figure. But it reflects the >10x "unicorn" growth since the Fortune piece, and the rapidly ascending private funding trajectory.
By the numbers: Currently, there would be 19 dragons. Of those, nine are based in the U.S.
- That's an even more exclusive club than Lee's original framing, although this is the sort of thing where less means more.
- The U.S. dragons are: Stripe, SpaceX, Instacart, Epic Games, Databricks, Rivian, Chime, Fanatics and Plaid.
The bottom line: Welcome to the age of dragons.
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.
Details: Moving forward, Facebook will expand some of its current News Feed tests that put less emphasis on certain engagement signals, like the probability that a user will share or comment on a post, in its ranking algorithm.
- Instead, it will begin placing a higher emphasis on other types of user feedback, like responses to surveys.
- The company will also begin testing efforts to limit political content in several new countries, including Costa Rica, Sweden, Spain, and Ireland.
Between the lines: These efforts are part of a gradual effort by Facebook to make its users' experiences less political and contentious.
- Earlier this year, the company began testing limiting political content in News Feeds in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Indonesia. In January, it said it would stop providing recommendations for users to join civic and political groups.
- User feedback showed people liked these changes.
The big picture: Following the 2020 election, Facebook tried to limit the amount of political content users interact with on its platform, but it is still regularly criticized over the amount of political misinformation it distributes.
- Current events and breaking news content is most likely to be exploited by bad actors for misinformation, because stories on breaking news events are difficult to fact-check as they unfold.
- Facebook has said that political topics only account for a small amount (6%) of the overall content that users engage with, although it's unclear exactly how the company defines political content.
What to watch: Facebook plans to roll out these changes gradually, so as not to catch too many political and news publishers off guard. It's likely that it will expand its tests over time to more countries.