5 things you should know about tech today

- March 12, 2020 3 MIN READ
Just drive, it'll be fine. Image: Pathé Entertainment

Hi Thursday.

Stay healthy and don’t touch anything.


1.  Google and Twitter out

Google has recommended all North American employees work from home for the next month as the region comes to grips with coronavirus.

VP of global security Chris Rackow send an email to staff in the 11 offices in the US and Canada saying: “The goal of businesses moving to work from home (WFH) arrangements it to significantly reduce the density of people and lower the health risk in offices, and also reduce the burden on the local community and health resources.”

Rackow said the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution, and for the protection of Alphabet and the broader community”. The company has around 120,000 employees globally and the move follows similar steps by fellow tech giants Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook, which are suggesting Seattle staff work from home.

Twitter joined in today, saying it’s told all employees globally to work from home.

“We understand this is an unprecedented step, but these are unprecedented times,” the company said.

Meanwhile, Google has banned ads for medical face masks to stop profiteering.

Speaking of profit:


2. NSW data science boss new ACS president

Tech sector association ACS has elected the NSW government’s Chief Data Scientist, Dr Ian Oppermann,  as its new president, replacing Yohan Ramasundara. The appointment kicked off yesterday and runs until 31 December, 2021.

Oppermann’s three-decade career in 30 years’ experience includes senior roles at Nokia and the CSIRO. He has an MBA from the University of London and a Doctor of Philosophy in mobile telecommunications from Sydney University.

The changing of the guard came the day after the ACS settled on costs over its failed attempt to shift from association to company. Member Roger Clarke took the member organisation to Federal Court and won decisively. On Tuesday, ACS agreed to pay $127,000 in costs for Clarke’s successful challenge to the change.

In a statement to members, ACS said “plans on how to transition to a Company Limited by Guarantee will be reassessed” following the end of the case.


3. Tech tank

How’s that new S&P/ASX All Tech Index, performing, you ask? Well funny you should mention it. The ASX is being smashed again today, despite the Australian government’s $17.6 billion stimulus package, and was down more than 7.5% in early trade today after US President Donald Trump’s address, which includes a ban on flights from Europe, before staging a small rally.

The All Tech Index is made up of 46 companies, which set out 2.5 weeks ago with a combined market cap in excess of $100 billion, led by the likes of Xero, Computershare, Afterpay, Carsales, REA Group, and Wisetech. Overall, more than $25 billion in value has been shaved off the unicorn horns – around 25% since Feb 24.

Source: marketindex.com.au

If it’s any consolation, the All Ords, which sat above 7000 with the All Tech began trading, has fallen similarly, fell below 5,500 in early Thursday trade before rallying

And spare a thought for ARQ Group Ltd (ASX: ARQ), the former Melbourne IT,  selling domain names, web hosting and design, and assorted interneting. It wins the All Ords worst performer award, losing 96% of its value in the last 12 months. Shares worth $2+ a year ago were trading yesterday for 8 cents.


4. ATO backs small business

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is chipping in to help out businesses hit by coronavirus,

Alas tax boss Chris Jordan isn’t letting you off paying tax, but the ATO is willing to work with businesses to better manage their cash flow, with the options including a four-month deferment on pyaments for BAS, income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise, and varying the April 2020 quarter Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalment amount to zero, as well as claiming a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters.

Other measures include:

  • Remitting any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities
  • Working with affected businesses to help them pay their existing and ongoing tax liabilities by allowing them to enter into low interest payment plans.

Employers will still need to meet their ongoing super guarantee obligations for their employees.

Anyone impacted by COVID-19 should contact the ATO to request assistance on 1800 806 218.


5. Kiwis look for impact

The Open Challenge Accelerator, an 8-month program focused for impact entrepreneur, based Impact Hub, Waikato, on New Zealand’s North Island, is open for applications for its latest cohort. There are 10 slots and applications close April 11. More details here.

Paul Kerssens, co-founder and director of Impact Support & Innovation, said: “The launch of this program is a great milestone for us with which we can really help our members to accelerate their impact and showcase some great examples of business that are making both a profit and an impact”.

Meanwhile Impact Hub announced the winners of its Open Challenge nomination campaign to identify high potential changemakers. Top spot went to Rory Birkbeck from Safe Surfer, followed by Hana Tapiata from Āio Clothing and in equal third Kelly Gyde from Brainy Picture People and Shalini Guleria from Science Box. The people’s choice award went to Jasmine Teei from BlackFlax.


BONUS ITEM: From Sunrise, some good answers to serious questions.

Experts Answer Your Top Coronavirus Questions

How do I stop myself getting coronavirus? Are we overreacting? Who is most at risk?A panel of experts in infectious diseases, health and finance have answered your top questions about COVID-19 on a special edition of Sunrise.

Posted by Sunrise on Tuesday, March 10, 2020

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