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Alkynes and nitriles are important functional groups that serve as versatile building blocks in organic synthesis and find applications in material and medicinal sciences. A convenient and straightforward access to both classes of compounds under mild conditions is, therefore, highly desirable. Herein, we disclose the decarboxylative alkynylation and cyanation of broadly available carboxylic acids using photoredox catalysis and hypervalent iodine reagents. Choices of both catalysts and reagents were crucial. Computational and experimental studies revealed two different possible mechanisms that are dictated by the oxidation potential of the reagents: radical for alkynylation, ionic for cyanation.