5 things you should know about tech today

- November 6, 2019 3 MIN READ

The HealthMatch team.


Welcome to Wednesday.

Here are the latest tech tales.


1.  Blockchain buff John McAfee is heading to StartCon

The fecund US entrepreneur, who founded the cybersecurity software company that still bears his name (he parted ways with it 25 years ago) is heading to Sydney for StartCon, Nov 22-23, to talk freedom, privacy and tech with Freelancer boss Matt Barrie.

McAfee, who claims to have fathered more than 40 children, has been a blockchain and crypto evangelist in more recent years, setting up a decentralised currency exchange McAfeeDex. He’s also planning to have another tilt at the US presidential race, having failed to grab the nomination for the Libertarian Party back in 2016.

Barrie says he looks forward “to debating the escalating battlefield for privacy and freedom as technology facilitates both a creeping infringement and increasing ability to protect one’s rights” with McAfee.

More on StartCon is available here.


2. Why tech stocks are a better bet than horses

Since 2010, M8 Ventures partner Alan ‘the nice one’ Jones has eschewed betting on the Melbourne Cup, putting his money into tech stocks instead. 

As he outlined in a blog post yesterday: “investing in the barbarous exploitation of tech industry workers does at least come with the conscious consent of the tech workers, whereas the barbarous exploitation of racehorses isn’t really something the horses can consent to”.

Jones adds: “I’d rather risk making myself poorer and Mike Cannon-Brookes richer than make myself poorer and Tom Waterhouse richer.”

He started with Apple shares at US$74.90 nine years ago, now worth $257.50, nabbed Tesla stock in 2015 at US$202.49, now sitting around $317.47 and last year got into Atlassian at $63.02, now $118.37. His only investment bound for the knackers is Netflix at $328, which now sits at $292.86.

Alan Jones’ tech stocks investment portfolio. Source: Alan Jones.

He’s making his 2019 investments today and says “I will probably buy Microsoft, or 1414 Degrees, a rather interesting Aussie renewable energy storage startup I saw pitch at this year’s Tech23“, concluding “next first-Tuesday-in-November, I encourage you to join me in buying some tech stocks instead of betting on the Melbourne Cup”.

Read his full post here.

3. The Facebook logo

Facebook CMO Antonio Lucio said the update was to make branding clearer for products that come from Facebook.

“The new branding was designed for clarity, and uses custom typography and capitalization to create visual distinction between the company and app,” he said.

Personally, it feels like Zuckerberglandia saw Australia’s new $38 million “Philausophy” tourism campaign, went “hold my beer”, invested in San Francisco’s recreational green economy, and jumped on Canva for 20 minutes. Thoughts?


4. An amazing Australian medtech story

Manuri Gunawardena planned to become a surgeon, but when she discovered just how hard and random it was for patients to access clinical trials an internship in oncology research, she was inspired to create HealthMatch, an app that we’ve described as a bit like Tinder for sick people to match up with potentially life-saving clinical trials. This week the company received $6 million in Series A investment, led by VC firms Square Peg Capital and Tempus Partners. We’ve written about it here, but if you have the time, really encourage you to read Square Peg founder Paul Bassat’s take on the experience of deciding to invest in HealthMatch.

Our favourite details are that it all happened in just five days after their first meet – because Gunawardena was getting married in 8 days and wanted the round closed before then. How’s that for focused. More here.


5.  Westpac’s digital banking play

Westpac is teaming up with UK cloud banking startup 10x Future Technologies to build a standalone digital “banking-as-a-service” platform by the end of 2020. The plan was announced as part of the bank’s full-year results on Monday with CEO Brian Hartzer saying the greenfield platform will let third parties – institutional customers and fintech partners to start, even if they don’t have a banking license – distribute Westpac banking products digitally via APIs (application programming interfaces) to their customers. The bank will take a minority stake in 10x.

Hartzer said that if things work out as hoped, “it’s potentially something we can fold back into our own core operating environment and thereby help us drive our own costs and flexibility in a better direction.”

Former Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins founded 10x in 2016 and its existing backers include the UK’s largest building society, Nationwide.