Welcome to Ignition Lane’s Weekly Wrap, where they cut through the noise to bring you their favourite insights from the technology and startup world. Ignition Lane works with ambitious business leaders to apply the Startup Mindset to their technology, product and commercialisation problems.
This wrap goes out free to subscribers every Saturday morning. Don’t forget you can catch Gavin Appel discussing the week on the Startup Daily show on Ausbiz. If you miss it, you can catch up on the week’s shows here.
Here’s their review of the week.
Proud Aussie things
Tenta-cool! Brisbane-based, bootstrapped DevOps startup Octopus Deploy raised a whopping AU$221 million from New York-based Insight Partners. That’s the second-biggest Australian VC funding round ever (Insight led a US$250 million investment in Campaign Monitor in 2014). Octopus Deploy helps development teams to automate deployments – a massive pain point in continuous delivery. The company, which was founded 10 years ago, now has 109 people across Australia, the US and the UK.
So what made Insight sit up and take notice? Over 350,000 people use and love Octopus Deploy – it has a best in class net promoter score of 65+. Founders Paul and Sonia Stovell say local VCs made moves to invest over the years, but Insight won them over with their extensive scaling experience and deep pockets:
[Insight] had incredible conviction that what we’d built was special – they’d gotten the message loud and clear from our customers that Octopus was the #1 category leader for enterprise deployment automation – and they had a strong pitch for how they could help continue our growth.
Now Octopus is well armed to become one of Australia’s biggest startup success stories. Ink-redible. Sorry. Just squidding!
Atlassian has acquired ThinkTilt. Brisbane-based ThinkTilt is the maker of Jira-centric no-code/low-code form builder ProForma, which helps businesses “create amazing customer and employee experiences, and allows anyone to do that really quickly and easily.” The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Happy people, happy profit. The 2021 AFR BOSS Best Place to Work List is out. SEEK took out top spot and Blackbird Ventures was rated the best employee experience. Not on the list and wondering what you need to do to be the best? Allow flexibility, offer and encourage men to take paid parental leave, provide mental health support, encourage respectful debate and transparency, actively support learning and development. Oh, you can also up your chances by hiring a woman CEO – the top 20 ranking organisations were twice as likely to have a woman leader compared with the bottom 20.
More CS in Schools. CS in Schools is transitioning to The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE), who plan to take the program national. CS in Schools matches tech professionals with teachers, helping them develop their coding skills in the classroom and provide innovative lesson materials.
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Woolies all in on marketplaces. Woolies announced it is launching a marketplace and investing in marketplace platform, Marketplacer. The Woolworths marketplace will begin with a range of everyday Big W products.
Award worthy. National Online Retail Association (NORA) held its annual awards night. A big winners list of winners including: Shopify Plus (ecommerce platform), Comestri (ecommerce integrator), Marketplacer (marketplace platform), eStore Logistics (fulfilment and logistics), Tryzens (multi-channel tech solutions) and Afterpay (BNPL).
Speaking of Afterpay. Accenture released an Afterpay-commissioned report on the Economic Impact of Afterpay, finding that:
Australian businesses have received $3 billion in total net benefits from using Afterpay, and Afterpay customers have also saved over $110 million when compared to credit cards…
in each month of 2020 BNPL sales in Australia experienced year over year growth in excess of 40 per cent – while the total value of credit card purchasing declined every month from March 2020 to the end of the year.
The company is exploring options for listing on a US exchange. The US is now the biggest contributor to Afterpay’s business, with underlying US sales for Q3 FY21 up 211% YoY to AU$2.6 billion.
Redbubble playing the long game. Alongside the release of its 3Q results, print-on-demand product marketplace Redbubble’s CEO Michael Ilczynski announced it is investing for the long term. This follows a strategy used by his old boss Andrew Bassat at SEEK:
When we’re in a profit-maximising phase we can generate strong margins. But now… we’re well capitalised, we have a new CEO and a committed management team, so the timing is right to enter a new investment phase for the next few years.
Local raising news
Japan-Aussie VC. InterValley has raised a new fund out of Japan with a mandate to invest at least 80% of the fund into emerging Australian tech companies. The AU$30M fund is expected to grow to $50M soon, and is being led by Simon Wright (ex-Virgin Entertainment CEO).
Third time lucky. Latitude (formerly known as GE Finance) completed its IPO and listing on the ASX, with a AU$2.8B valuation. This was its third attempt at a public listing. Latitude provides BNPL, loans, credit cards and insurance.
Neara raised $7.25M from Square Peg, Skip Capital and Grok Ventures. Neara helps utilities companies design, simulate and manage their assets with 3D digital twin modelling.
Mr Yum raised $11M to expand into the US and UK. If you’ve left the house in the last 12 months then it’s highly likely you’ve used Mr Yum’s tech, which provides table-ordering, pickup and delivery to restaurants and bars around the country.
Archistar raised $6M from Skip Capital and AirTree. Founded by architect Dr. Benjamin Coorey in 2018, Archistar allows architects, property developers and planners to mock up digital 3D designs to ensure buildings comply with height restrictions, while allowing for natural light and ventilation.
Unhedged raised $500,000. Unhedged is an app allowing any investor to access algorithmic investing – “the algorithms have many advantages over humans – they simply read the data and make moves, they’re always ‘on’ and never emotional.” Unhedged kicks off with a limited launch in July.
UiPath is the leader in Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and is one of the fastest growing SaaS companies of all time. Its market cap is now sitting around US$40B. Founder Daniel “Boss of the Bots” Dines is now the wealthiest person in Romania.
Some interesting data points from the S-1:
- UiPath started life as a tech outsourcing company in Romania in 2005. It wasn’t until 2013 that the company released its first RPA product. After raising a $1.6M seed round from Accel and others in 2015, UiPath took off.
- It now has nearly 8,000 customers (including 80% of the Fortune 10 and 63% of the Fortune Global 500) who bring in more than $600M revenue, the majority of which is recurring. It has a best in class net dollar retention of 145% with an average revenue per customer of ~$72K.
- UiPath’s rapid growth is in large part due to strong partnerships with consulting firms like Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte, PwC and EY, who are incentivised to roll out UiPath in their digital transformation projects.
Squarespace was founded as a blog hosting service that launched in 2004 by Anthony Casalena while he was still at university. By the time he graduated in 2007, Squarespace was making $1M in revenue. Now 38, Casalena owns about 33% of the company, which brought in revenue of $621M last year and was valued at $10B a month ago.
Its growth has been strong and steady:
- In 2010 it raised its first venture round of $38.5M from Accel, Index Ventures and others. By 2015, it had reached $100 million in revenue, with 550 employees.
- In 2020, $621M in revenue (an increase of 28% from 2019). 94% of revenue came from 3.7M unique subscriptions.
- Squarespace Commerce (think Shopify) is growing faster at 78% YoY, with total 2020 revenue of $143M and $4B gross merchandise volume.
- Squarespace is profitable, generating net income of $30.5M in 2020, down from $58.1M the year before.
YouTube pays for itself.
Tiger is the new Softbank. Tiger Global has built a solid reputation that it invests in the world’s best startups: Stripe, Roblox, Coinbase, Snowflake, Postmates, JD.com to name a few. Now, with a fresh $6.7B fund in its coffers, the VC firm is out splashing cash. This week alone, Tiger Global has invested in ten startups. “Startups” may be the wrong term to use here – more at least half are unicorns.
More interestingly, Tiger is making a massive play in India, where it has invested in seven startups over the last two weeks, with a growing list rumoured to be in the deal pipeline. Ex-Tiger GP Lee Fixel laid the ground work in India over many years (he now runs his own VC, Addition). According to TechCrunch, Tiger is an investor in over 20 of 47 Indian unicorns. This week’s investments (raise amounts are total & in USD):
- Clubhouse social media, undisclosed raise @ est. $4B
- Razorpay banking (India), $160M @ $3B
- ActiveCampaign sales & marketing automation, $240M @ $3B
- Virta Health diabetes reversal, $133M @ $2B
- Chargebee billing platform, $125M @ $1.4B
- Productboard DevOps orchestration, $72M @ undisclosed val
- AfterShip ecommerce experience (Hong Kong), $66M @ undisclosed val
- Pristyn Care end-to-end surgery patient support services (India), $53M @ $550M
- CoinSwitch Kuber crypto platform (India), $25M @ $500M+
- Cape Privacy secure data sharing, $20M @ undisclosed val
Zoom fund. Zoom has created a new US$100M venture fund designed to “stimulate growth” of its ecosystem. This week also marks its 10th birthday.