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Fortune’s quarterly investment package came out this week and it’s filled with stories about tech.

That’s probably not surprising given that tech stocks have been surging for a while now. The S&P 500’s tech sector gained 44% last year versus 18% for the overall index. Collectively, the big six–Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Tesla, and Facebook–are now worth over $8 trillion. To some it’s an obvious bubble, to others a logical response to the winners of the year of COVID.

With tech’s big sway in the stock market, I’m benefitting indirectly and so are you, most likely. All of my investments are in mutual funds, mainly low-cost index funds, and they’re topped up with the big six and other … Read the rest

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. 

It was an admittedly loony project in the first place: Loon, a much-hyped project aiming to deliver internet via helium balloons, will be shuttered, Google’s parent company Alphabet said late Thursday.

Formed nearly ten years ago within the tech giant’s “moonshot”-focused research lab, X, the hope was to use the balloons to send internet service into areas that have limited to no internet access. While the numbers are hard to come by, an estimated 3 billion to 4 billion people in the world today still can’t shop online (or read this newsletter).

So it makes sense that many tech giants and flashy billionaires view the practice as a major business opportunity: Elon Musk has Starlink; Richard Branson and SoftBank have OneWeb; Jeff … Read the rest

The valuation of Airbnb soared to new heights in its debut in public markets, even while the pandemic kept revenues depressed.

Now another unicorn startup focused on the travel space is also getting an upround: TripActions, a maker of corporate travel and expense software, announced that it had raised $155 million in funding Thursday, bumping its valuation up from $4 billion in 2019 to $5 billion today even though revenue remains below pre-pandemic levels. The Series E round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, Lee Fixel’s Addition Ventures, and investor Elad Gil. Zeev Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Greenoaks Capital also participated.

It’s an upround that would have been hard to imagine at the start of the pandemic. Multiple startups in the space took action to cut expenses, and TripActions laid off a quarter of its 1,100 employees as bookings and usage among its customers dropped 90%.

But … Read the rest

Good morning, Term Sheet readers.

With just hours to go until Joe Biden’s inauguration, President Donald Trump handed out a flurry of pardons, including ones to former White House strategist Stephen Bannon and other longtime political allies.

But some pardons came as a surprise: The White House announced the pardons of rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black.

Trump also granted clemency to Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer sentenced to 18 months in jail for stealing trade secrets from the tech giant’s self driving car unit. U.S. District Judge William Alsup at the time of the sentencing dubbed it the “biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen.” 

Levandowski was a founding member of Google’s self-driving car project before it was known as Waymo. In 2016, the engineer left to found a self-driving car startup dubbed Otto, a business that was acquired just months later by Uber. But … Read the rest

Multiverse, an education startup formerly known as White Hat, has raised $44 million in Series B funding as it enters the U.S. market and looks to hire some 200 new employees. 

Co-founded by Euan Blair, son of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, the startup seeks to act as an alternative to the typical four-year college by matching potential employees directly with companies for on-the-job training. 

According to Euan Blair, the startup, founded in 2016, has about 300,000 apprentices today who have been placed in companies including Unilever, Facebook, and Morgan Stanley. About 90% of those who are placed into one of Multiverse’s 18-month-long apprenticeships emerge from the other side with a job, he told Term Sheet, cautioning that the data is still sparse.

The four-year-degree has come under scrutiny amid ballooning college debt. An explosion in technology meanwhile has led to a shortage of tech … Read the rest