5 things you should know about tech today

- October 10, 2019 3 MIN READ


Happy Thursday everyone.

Here’s your daily dose of tech news.


1.  The OECD wants to change the way tech multinationals are taxed globally.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is proposing an international tax system across 134 countries, targeting the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Google so they pay more corporate tax in nations where revenue is highest.

The buzzwords you need to know here are MNEs (Multinational Enterprises) and BEPS ([tax] base erosion and profit shifting). In a bid to stop online company BEPS to low-tax jurisdictions (remember the double Irish with a Dutch sandwich?), the plan, open to public consultation, would re-allocate some profits and corresponding taxing rights to countries where MNEs have major markets, even without a physical presence, under new rules for where tax should be paid (“nexus” rules) and on what portion of profits they should be taxed (“profit allocation” rules).

“We’re making real progress to address the tax challenges arising from digitalisation of the economy, and to continue advancing toward a consensus-based solution to overhaul the rules-based international tax system by 2020,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

“Failure to reach agreement by 2020 would greatly increase the risk that countries will act unilaterally, with negative consequences on an already fragile global economy.”

The OECD believes BEPS practices cost countries US$100-240 billion annually, equivalent to 4-10% of the global corporate income tax revenue.


2. The CSIRO is shutting down its ON startup accelerator program. 

ON launched in 2015 as part of CSIRO’s Innovation Catalyst strategy, the program landed $20 million the following year as part of  Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda. The funding runs until 30 June, 2020. There are two programs left to run before a Demo Day next May.

So far, 52 new companies were formed from the program, creating 226 new jobs, with 13 of the companies attracting $36 million of investment capital. More on the closure here.


3.  It’s World Mental Health Day & KPMG’s had a look at founder wellness.

Amanda Price, Head of High Growth Ventures at KPMG Australia, has released the 2019 Fitness, fulfilment and foresight report following up on the 2018 edition. It reveals that 40% of founders are satisfied with the progress of their startup, but only 22% were satisfied with their stress and mental wellness. While 20% saw a counsellor or therapist in the past year, 70% spent nothing on mental health.

The report surveyed 167 founders and 35 VC firm representatives. The latest report delved into the differences between startups at different funding stages, and whether female and male founders approach wellbeing in different ways.

“Right now, the ecosystem is unbalanced,” Price says in her introduction.

“Much of the current support comes from accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces, but there’s very little out there for the founders of startups who have reached post series A or series B stage.

“Founders need support along the entire journey to success if Australia is going to build more globally successful startups.”

Read the full report here.


4. The tech sector is two months away from a $240 billion ‘gut punch’ from the US-China trade war.

Trump’s next round of 15% tariffs on Chinese imports, worth US$160 billion, kicks in on December 15. You may recall Apple and other tech companies with Chinese manufacturing bases has a stay of execution when smartphones, computers and other electronic products where exempted from the September tariffs.

Analysts at LA investment firm Wedbush wrote to clients warn of “a potential ‘gut punch’ if this tariff is not removed or kicked further down the road by the Trump administration”, Marketwatch reports, especially for Apple as “the poster child for these trade worries given its Foxconn flagship iPhone.”

More here.


5. Kogan.com named ‘shonky’ by Choice

Online retailer Kogan.com entered the “Hall of Shame” in consumer advocacy group Choice’s annual “Shonky” Awards for its (lack of) customer service and attempts to flout Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when it comes to refunds.

“We think putting a company’s own refund policy above the law of the land is shonky indeed,” Choice said.

“Since our initial investigation, Kogan has cleaned up its terms and conditions a bit. But they’re still ambiguous, and still contain terms that contradict those of the ACL.”

NSW consumers complained to Fair Trading 300 times about about rich-lister Ruslan Kogan’s business in the first half of 2019.

“The company has expanded into insurance, superannuation, car sales, energy, mobile and internet services and travel. If Kogan’s track record with its electronics business in anything to go by, we recommend you steer well clear of these offerings,” Choice said.


BONUS ITEM: Why do unicorns all look the same?