Ignition Lane’s Weekly Wrap: Big tech’s shocker, merger mania, a big week of firsts and the VC Tidal wave

- October 11, 2021 5 MIN READ
Elon Musk
Elon Musk

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. 

Here’s their review of the week. 

Aussie firsts, deals and shpiels

Consolidating insights. Sydney-based Hyper Anna is being acquired by Alteryx, a US$5bn NYSE-listed analytics automation company. Founded in 2015 by data scientist Natalie Nguyen, Hyper Anna’s AI powered data platform (‘Anna’​) proactively scans data and presents insights to users in real time.

We don’t know the price tag yet. Hyper Anna’s customers include some solid logos such as Westpac, nbn, Microsoft, IAG and SingTel. Interestingly, the startup hasn’t announced any funding since 2017, when Sequoia China led a $16m round (AirTree and Westpac’s Reinventure also invested). Employee numbers reported on LinkedIn have also been fairly stable over the last few years. Together, this hints that the sale price will be at the modest, rather than unicorn, end of the spectrum.

The acquisition is just the latest example of bigger analytics vendors extending their capabilities by gobbling up smaller players. On the same day, insightsoftware acquired Exago. Last week, Qlik acquired Big Squid and Vista Equity Partners bought Blue Prism to merge with Tibco.

Culture Geek party. Melbourne-based employee experience unicorn Culture Amp is acquiring Disco. Disco helps foster team appreciation and engagement by prompting employees to give kudos and nominating each other for living the values. This is Culture Amp’s second acquisition – it acquired performance management system Zugata in 2019.

A week of firsts:

  • Australia’s first Space Weather Hub is being set up by the Bureau of Meteorology in Aussie’s irrefutable space city, Adelaide. Also based there: Australian Space Agency, SmartSat CRC, the Space Discovery Centre, Microsoft Azure Space, the South Australian Space Industry Centre, Inovor Technologies and Myriota.
  • Canva was the first Aussie company to sign Amazon’s Climate Pledge to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
  • Australia’s first NFT Fest took place last week, with 50 speakers from across the world discussing the blockchain and crypto space. Access recordings here.
  • The first ANZ Climate Tech 100 is out.

Good news for underbanked, cash-strapped SMBs. Melbourne-based SMB lender Timelio secured a $270m facility from Goldman Sachs. Timelio’s technology assesses the risk of a SMB’s debtors and lends against unpaid invoices. Over the past six months, customer demand has grown 15% MoM and the average customer funding requirement has increased from $250k in 2017 to $1m.

Canadian investor Clearco also launched in Australia, promising $100m in revenue-based financing for ecommerce businesses.

Work models. Creative marketplace Envato has switched to nine-day fortnights in the lead up to Christmas. Around the world, companies are embracing ‘new normal’ work models. This week PwC announced it is allowing all its 40,000 US workers to work from anywhere; remote work tool Notion announced a $10bn valuation off the back of big growth; and Eidos-Montréal (the Canadian video game developer behind Guardians of the Galaxy), announced it will move to a four-day workweek.

Hang ten on the Tidal wave. VC Tidal Ventures launched an expert investment network, Tidal’s Expert Network (#ten), pooling big wigs from the likes of Uber, Xplor and Airbnb. Similar to Startmate’s model, members invest in Tidal’s Seed Fund, while offering founders mentorship or expertise.

Cabinet: “LMFAO! Everyday I’m shufflin”. The revolving door of cabinet continues to get a work out. The Industry, Science and Technology portfolio has been split between Angus Taylor (holding on to Industry) and Melissa Price (taking over Science and Technology and retaining her defence portfolio). The move has been cautiously welcomed.

Local funding news

Trend of the week: legal tech

Smokeball raised USD$30m ($41m) for its legal practice management software that also offers document automation, matter management and time tracking. Get them billables.

Persuit raised US$20 million ($27.4m) led by Boston-based OpenView. Founded by former DLA Piper partner Jim Delkousis, Persuit is a private marketplace for corporate legal services. Delkousis says Persuit helps in-house teams to get “true market pricing” and efficiently find the best lawyer for the job.

Usa Network Television GIF by Suits

3ME Technology Holdings raised a $15m convertible note from the Australian Business Growth Fund (a public-private partnership). 3ME has developed a scalable lithium-ion battery system that can be retrofitted to powerful diesel engines.

EncompaaS raised $14m for its suite of cloud-based enterprise content management and compliance tools.

Lawpath raised $7.5m for its subscription-based legal services platform. It plans to expand into NZ and Southeast Asia. Lawpath currently has about 230,000 users, and says it is used to help form 5% of new companies in Australia.

Pathzero raised US$5m ($6.8m) led by Carthona. Pathzero provides an accessible way of measuring corporate carbon emissions, implementing an emissions reduction plan, purchasing verified carbon credits and disclosing carbon emissions information publicly.

Academy Xi raised $4.4m from NZ’s Milford Asset Management (extending its current round to $14m). The company delivers both individual and corporate training programs, focused on helping close the digital skills gap across the local workforce.

ProcurePro raised $2.6m to helps construction firms manage subcontractors.

GreaseBoss raised $2.5m from investors including 49ers footballer “the Comeback Kid”, Joe Montana after a stint in Y Combinator this year. GreaseBoss’ IoT tech aims to eliminate lubrication failure in commercial machinery.

Conqa raised NZ$2.5m+ from existing investors for its construction QA software.

mDetect received a $1.5m government grant to commercialise its solution for one of the most dangerous problems in mining – tailing dams.

Oz Hair & Beauty raised an undisclosed amount from Daniel Agostinelli (CEO of Accent Group – Platypus, Style Runner, Glue Store, Vans), billionaire businessman, Brett Blundy and others. The online retailer, was founded by brothers Anthony and Guy Nappa ten years ago and currently has a turnover of $40 million (up 68% in the 12 months ending June 30).

Hacks, whistleblowing and biiiig booboos

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Let’s all celebrate by changing our passwords! *Ahem*, particularly if you’re a Twitch or Coinbase user…

Vlad’s hackers. Microsoft says US government agencies are being targeted at a greater rate by Russian cyberattacks than ever before. Nearly 60% of the cyberattacks it has tracked over the past year came from Russian state–sponsored hackers, and those attacks are also becoming more sophisticated and successful.

Twitch’s glitch. The interactive streaming service popular with gamers, Twitch, has been criticised for being slow to announce a data breach. Hacker(s) leaked closely guarded information about Twitch’s streamer earnings (top-five earners grossed about US$35m between them from August 2019 to October 2021), along with its source code and technical details for future products. The Amazon-owned company has recently been struggling to moderate ongoing hate and harassment, leading users to start a #DoBetterTwitch movement. The anonymous leaker used this hashtag to distributed the hacked data.

Hacking the crypty bank. If you’re deep into crypto you may recall that exchange platform, Coinbase, was hacked back in March and May 2020. Now the chickens have come home to roost. It has been revealed hackers stole from 6,000 accounts. Don’t fret. Coinbase is allegedly coming to the rescue, working with customers to “regain control of their accounts and reimburse them for funds they lost.” Might be a bit harder to reimburse them for love lost, though.

Biggest blunder. Decentralised finance staking protocol Compound Labs accidentally gave away US$90.1m to its users in crypto tokens after upgrading its system. The founder politely asked that the money be returned… or recipients risk being reported to the IRS as income received. Good luck with that, guys.

Facebook’s sorry, not sorry. Zuck pulled a Scomo, preferring to go on holiday instead of facing the music this week. Facebook kicked off the week with a six-hour outage and ended with whistleblower Frances Haugen claiming Facebook has long known about the harm its services cause to kids.

No Way Smh GIF

A place to blow whistles. The revelations from Haugen have brought whistleblowing back into sharp focus. Whistleblower Ifeoma Ozoma, who spoke out against Pinterest on issues of racial and gender-based discrimination last year, launched the Tech Worker Handbook – a safe place for whistleblowers. Ozoma says the timing was fortuitous, but not intentional.

Tesla’s ugly side. Lastly on the chopping block we have Tesla, which has been ordered to pay US$137m in damages to a former employee in a racial harassment lawsuit. The counts against the company are really, really ugly. Over 100 potential litigants are seeking to make similar claims that they were regularly called the “n” word, subject to racist slurs and graffiti (eg swastikas) on bathroom walls and generally treated differently because of their race. Meanwhile Tesla has been busy exceeding Wall Street’s projections, delivering 241,300 vehicles in Q3.

All in all, not Big Tech’s finest week.

That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed it.

Bex, Gavin and the team at Ignition Lane