Ignition Lane’s Weekly Wrap: Canva’s cloud, tech lobbies up, LaunchVic’s 4-year plan

- August 16, 2021 6 MIN READ
The Canva co-founders

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. Don’t forget you can catch Gavin Appel discussing the week on the Startup Daily show on Ausbiz every Monday at 2pm. If you miss it, you can catch up on the week’s shows here.

Here’s their review of the week. 


It’s Cloud 100 time!

Coming in at #1 of the list of world’s top private cloud companies (after a one year hiatus), it’s the one and only Stripe.

Doing us proud from Australia are Canva (#3), Airwallex (#58) and Culture Amp (#99). All three made the cut for the second year in a row.

NZ’s portainer.io was listed as a rising star.

shine bright like a diamond diamonds music video GIF by Rihanna

Startup politics

The Technology Council of Australia launched with a bang on Wednesday. Backed by tech industry big dawgs, the new industry body and lobby group will be a force to be reckoned with.

Former Accenture MD Kate Pounder is in the CEO seat, while Robyn Denholm (Blackbird Operating Partner and Tesla Chair) is Chair.

The driving force of the group, StartupAus CEO Alex McCauley, will sit on the board along side Atlassian’s co-CEO Scott Farquhar, Afterpay’s co-CEO Anthony Eisen, Canva co-founder and COO Cliff Obrecht, :Different CEO Mina Radhakrishnan, Culture Amp CEO Didier Elzinga and others.

To coincide with the launch, the Tech Council released new research from Accenture reporting that the tech industry generated $167bn of economic output in FY21, equivalent to 8.5% of GDP.

Around 861,000 people employed in tech jobs. Since 2005, tech jobs have grown by 66%, compared to an average jobs growth rate of 35% across the economy.

This might sound impressive (it is!) but we’re actually falling behind compared to similar economies. Even more so when it comes to commercialising deep tech out of universities.

A recent KPMG report found that Australia attracted a record US$907m (AU$1.2bn) in VC funding in Q2.* That figure is just 0.6% of global VC deals. By comparison, Israel attracted $2.8bn, Canada $4bn and the Nordic countries $5.6bn.

*It’s worth noting that Australia’s numbers may be slightly lower than reality as the funding data is provided by Pitchbook, which excludes many smaller or unannounced deals.

According to our Industry and Technology Minister (who shall remain nameless), Australia’s startup ecosystem is thriving thanks to the federal government:

“The government is focused on having the right environment for Australian startups to flourish through access to finance, new markets, talent and support… There’s always more to do, but these figures suggest our investments and focus [are] paying dividends.”

side eye GIF by WE tv

Yea, nah. Not sure Aussie startups would agree. To name a few of the federal policies inhibiting the tech ecosystem: R&D incentives, deep tech funding, employee share scheme tax treatment, skilled migration policies, securities (investment) laws.

But it’s not all bad. One State government agency that is thoughtfully helping the startup ecosystem is LaunchVic. This week it released a four-year plan outlining how it will take Vic’s $7b startup sector to the next level.

Here’s the strategy on a page. Its priorities are:

  1. Catalysing early-stage startup investments – its fund of funds and the Women’s Angel Sidecar Fund, each of which is expected to generate returns that can be reinvested into the ecosystem.
  2. Supporting talent, founder and investor education programs that will grow more scaleups.
  3. Driving awareness and advocacy for Vic’s startup ecosystem.

LaunchVic is smart with its money. It doesn’t just blindly pass out cash to startups. Nor does it try to be an expert at all things. Instead it consults the industry to hear what it needs, and then partners with lots of industry supporters who are already doing great work; amplifying their impact.

It’s this partnership approach that we need more of in government.

All the startup ladies (all the startup ladies)

It’s been a big week of headlines for Aussie women in tech. As we mentioned above, the new Tech Council is headed up by two powerhouse women (not to mention Dr. Kate Cornick is at the helm of LaunchVic).

But wait, there’s more…

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The Sydney Morning Herald crowned Adore Beauty founder Kate Morris as the ‘startup godmother’ thanks to her latest investment focus.

Elicia McDonald and Jackie Vullinghs are the first women to ever be promoted to Partner at AirTree. These superstars couldn’t be more deserving of the title, which means they can officially lead deals and vote on investments.

Elicia has been at AirTree since 2016 and has played a leading role in the VC’s investments in Regrow, Abyss, Process St, :Different and Go1. Jackie (Jax) joined in 2018 and was key in AirTree’s investments into Grow, Zoomo, Linktree, Arli and Eucalyptus. She also writes a solid newsletter.

Olivia Grivas has moved into VC as an Investor at Skip Capital, and Kiya Taylor joined Sydney VC Equity Venture Partners as Head of Platform and Community.

Anna Zam (cofounder & COO at Ampjar) and Baidy Laffan (Head of Customer & Growth at Yellow Canary) launched a new podcast sharing the stories of incredible women in ANZ tech. Check out ‘Face of Tech’. The first interview is with Lucy Wark who leads NORMAL (Eucalyptus’ sexual wellness brand).

Local deals & raising news

Rocos is being acquired by Drone DeployAuckland-based Rocos’ cloud platform helps robotics teams connect, deploy, and run live robotic operations at scale -something mechatronics teams often struggle with. San Francisco-based DroneDeploy is largely considered the market share leader in the drone software market. Its software is used by customers in construction, energy, agriculture and other sectors who use drones to reduce manual work and improve safety.

Latitude is acquiring Symple for $200m. Symple is a Melbourne-based personal lending fintech with a $53m loan book. It uses analytics and risk-based pricing techniques to offer fast approvals and same-day settlements. Latitude is Australia’s fourth-largest personal lender. It recently listed on the ASX (third time’s a charm). Symple will become the lending platform for all of Latitude’s $2.5bn personal and auto loans.

Stuff acquired EnsembleEnsemble is a boutique publishing operations, fashion and beauty media startup that launched just a year ago. Stuff is an NZ media giant (everything’s relative).

Crimson Education raised $23.8m led by HEAL Partners adding former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to its advisory board. Crimson Education helps students get into top universities such as Harvard and Oxford – not without controversy.

LawVu raised NZ$17m led by Insight Partners, with follow on funding from AirTree. Insight Partners MD Rachel Geller (no, she isn’t married to Ross) will join the board. LawVu has built a legal operations platform for in-house legal counsel.

Fable Food secured $6.5m, plus a partnership with Grill’d and celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for its meat alternative product.

Lygon raised $5m. The blockchain startup streamlines the bank guarantee process and is a JV between Scentre Group, ANZ, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and IBM.

Dovetail raised $5m led by Felicis Ventures, with participation from Blackbird Ventures, Grok Ventures, and Didier Elzinga, CEO of Culture Amp. Dovetail helps organisations gather customer research data in one collaborative and searchable research repository. They’ve built an enviable customer base:

The company has added over 1,000 customers in just 12 months, including Datadog, GitLab, Harvard University, IBM, Nielsen Norman Group, and Wiley, to an impressive global customer base that includes Boston Consulting Group, Canva, Cisco, Deloitte, Maersk, Mastercard, Shopify, Square, VMware and more. Enterprise growth, in particular, has topped 20 percent month-over-month as subscriptions continue to climb.

Sicona Battery Technologies raised $3.7m led by Artesian and US based Riverstone Ventures (the PE’s first Aussie play). Sicona is developing next-gen battery technology for electric mobility and and renewable energy storage. Its silicon-composite anode (negative electrode) technology delivers 50% to 100% higher capacity than conventional graphite anodes and its anode materials can deliver more than 50% higher cell energy density than current Li-ion batteries.

Zero Latency is doing a PE deal with Advent Partners. The Melbourne-based company already has 50 multi-player VR gaming owned and licensed sites across the Americas, Europe, Middle East and AsiaPac.

Some blurry randos at Zero Latency (it me)

Zoom2u’s IPO opened on Thursday ahead of an ASX listing. Zoom2u is an Australian delivery marketplace for Same Day, Next Day and Australia wide deliveries. Perennial and Cyan are reportedly buying in. FY20 revenue was $2.2m, FY21 is expected to be $2.7m. The offer price is $0.20, giving the company an enterprise value of $25.4m – EV/FY21F revenue is 9.3x. Listing at an early stage is expensive – an estimated $1.5m of the $8m to be raised will go towards listing/IPO costs. Hopefully Zoom2u has earmarked some of that cash towards finding a more diverse board.

Want to SPAC? Matt Berriman and NY-based Tailwind and are cashed up with US$700m to hunt down a company or two to take public in the US via a SPAC.

Want to work in startups? Wellington startups are hosting a career event on Weds, showcasing CoGo, Hnry, Sharesies, Mobi2Go, Solve and Wipster. If you’re in the beautiful windy city, get amongst.

Around the world

Candy cash. Mobile games are on track to surpass $120b in 2021, according to AppAnnie. More analysis here if you want to nerd out.

A fresh decacorn. Reddit has raised $410m and plans to raise up to $700m at a $10b valuation. The chat forum bizniz is booming:

In Q2, Reddit broke $100 million in advertising revenue for the first time, marking a 192% year-over-year increase for the quarter. The site now attracts 50 million daily visitors and hosts 100,000 active subreddits.

Disney+ is hugeDisney+ reached 116m subscribers in Q3 – up over 100% YoY. Netflix has 209 million subscribers.

Salesforce wants to be Disney+… or LinkedIn? Salesforce is moving into streaming media with Salesforce+ (what an original name!), a video-focussed digital media network that “will bring the magic of Dreamforce to viewers across the globe with luminary speakers.” Is that what the people really want? Salesforce says yes, and it’s putting its money where its mouth is. It will hire around 50 editorial leads, plus hundreds of Salesforce people are reported to already be working on Salesforce+.

Regulators, mount up. Facebook’s social media-related acquisition days might be behind it. UK and EU Regulators are threatening to unravel Facebook’s purchase of Giphy and Kustomer.

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Get vaccinated. The Web Summit, Europe’s biggest tech conference, will return as an in-person event this November. Guess we won’t be going. Meanwhile Amazon is moving production of the Lord of the Rings from NZ to the UK. NZ’s strict handling of the pandemic was reportedly a factor in its decision.

Because we had to start and end with the cloud:

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

Bex, Gavin and the team at Ignition Lane