5 things you should know about tech today

- March 6, 2020 4 MIN READ
Photo: Canva

Welcome to Friday

Here’s to the Australian women’s T20 cricket team being part of this weekend’s International Women’s Day celebrations.


1. DeepMind takes on COVID-19

Google’s UK artificial intelligence team at DeepMind have turned their attention to COVID-19.

In a blog post the DeepMind team flagged its efforts in a way that left us slightly mindsplodey, but it’s one of those moment when, for all the Big Brother fears, you’re glad to have the best tech on your side.

“We hope to contribute to the scientific effort using the latest version of our AlphaFold system by releasing structure predictions of several under-studied proteins associated with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. We emphasise that these structure predictions have not been experimentally verified, but hope they may contribute to the scientific community’s interrogation of how the virus functions, and serve as a hypothesis generation platform for future experimental work in developing therapeutics. We’re indebted to the work of many other labs: this work wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of researchers across the globe who have responded to the COVID-19 outbreak with incredible agility,” the post says.

Yay team. Best of luck and do your best. More here.


2. Zoholics USA canned

Confession: Startup Daily was looking forward to heading to Zoholics in Austin, Texas, in late April, as a guest of the online productivity platform, but today, like so many tech companies, the Indian SaaS venture made the call to can the gathering. It’s their biggest event of the year

“We have also cancelled all Zoho events, globally, for the month of March. This includes Zoholics in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand. If you have purchased a ticket for any of our cancelled events, we will refund your entire purchase. We will also refund any paid sponsorships by partners and other participating vendors,” the company said.

Sydney Zoholics in May is still proceeding at this point.

It’s also, like many, encouraging its workforce to do what it does from home until the crazy makes more sense.

“We have adopted Work From Home as the default policy for all our offices worldwide as a matter of precaution, although we have had no known cases of infection. Our employees are encouraged to come to our offices, only when absolutely necessary. We will retain this policy until the threat of the virus has passed, or has reduced substantially,”  the company said.

Details here.


3.  Canvolidays

We generally try to not repeat other stories published on Startup Daily in 5 things, but it’s International Women’s Day on Sunday and Canva’s announcement today to mark the day is one worth also flagging here.

The bit this columnist, who faces the same terror even as a bloke, couldn’t help but envy – *checks Canva jobs list* –  was the company’s plan to offer free school holiday programs for its workers with kids, among a bunch of other support for its female employees, especially mums.

Take a bow, Mel, Cliff and working dad Cameron, Canva’s co-founders. We’ve got more details here. Enjoy Sunday, all you awesome women, mother or not.


4. Xinja halts new savings accounts

Neobank Xinja has stopped customers opening new Stash saving accounts, which offer 2.25%, as more than $350 million has flowed in in less than two months.

The digital startup, which announced a $50 million equity crowdfunding raise this week, is pulling down the shutters in order to maintain its rate with existing customers, CEO and founder Eric Wilson.

“When faced with higher than expected deposit flows, and an RBA rate cut, most banks would just drop deposit interest rates, hurting existing customers while chasing new ones. That’s not what Xinja is about,” he said

“There are three things we have to balance: the RBA rate cut makes it more expensive for Xinja to hold deposits at the same rate before the launch of our lending program; there has been an unprecedented uptake of Xinja Bank by Australians; and now, how we – as a new bank – manage the costs of those deposits.

“Managing those costs as a new bank in a way that cares about existing customers means pushing the pause button on opening new Stash accounts for a while.”


5. Shopping for a cause 

Australian women are 20% more likely than men to shop Australian made as a direct result of the drought and bushfire relief efforts (79% v 66%) and are twice as likely (18% v 9%) to donate items to support Australian communities affected by disasters, according to research from MYOB.

Ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day which has the theme #eachforequal, Jane Betschel, MYOB’s head of SME Direct Sales, said the research indicates  women have really given their all to support the cause, to the benefit to businesses, communities and society as a whole.

“Following recent natural disasters, women-led businesses and social enterprises have taken the country by storm, encouraging people to Spend with Them, Buy from the Bush, Go with Empty Eskies and helping to Find a Bed,” she said.

The research also found that women are more likely than men to purchase from drought or bushfire impacted businesses with the aim of supporting them in their recovery (48% female to 35% male). In general, younger generations were also more likely at 68% compared to a national average of 42%.

Women place more importance on whether a product is Australian made in a buying decision, at 76% compared to 68% of men. Women are also more prepared to pay more for a local product or service (65% compared to 61%).

Betschel said MYOB wanted to highlight the role women play in building and rebuilding communities, and in particular small businesses.