5 things you should know about tech today

- May 11, 2020 4 MIN READ
Australian Chamber Orchestra artistic director Richard Tognetti is using tech to innovate how his arts company finds its audience. Photo: ACO



Happy Monday all.

Let’s kick off the week


1.  Zoom goes security shopping

Video communication site du jour, Zoom, is working on beefing up its security, with CEO Eric Yuan implementing a 90-day plan focusing on privacy and security, after a string of incidents with strangers – hello Hamish Blake – dropping uninvited into meetings.

Not all have been pleasant. The Hustle recounts a recent experimental online show by Silicon Valley corporate magician Daniel Chan where an intruder took control of the screen and filled it with porn and racial abuse before he could regain control.

Yuan announced in a blog post last week that his company is buying the messaging and file sharing service Keybase to bolster end-to-end encryption for Zoom video conferencing. Max Krohn co-founder of the 25-person New York startup launched in 2014, will now head up Zoom’s security engineering, reporting directly to Yuan.

It’s Zoom’s first acquisition in its 9-year history, with Yuan calling Keybase “the best tech and the best team” in video encryption, CNBC reports. The price paid for Keybase was undisclosed, but the company was last valued at US$42 million following a $10.8m raise in 2015.

Zoom plans to unveil its encryption designs on May 22, then seek feedback.


2. The Amazon vaccine

Jeff Bezos “is developing the earth’s first ‘vaccinated’ supply chain”, according to Professor Scott Galloway in his weekly blog, No Mercy/No Malice.

Looking at the Amazon boss’ recent announcement that the company would reinvest $4 billion in profits, with a focus on covid-19, the NYU Stern School of Business Professor of Marketing argued that Amazon’s focus was “the fourth great unlock”, explaining that “an unlock is the discovery of an accelerant for the brand, product, or service invisible in plain sight”, citing 3 over the past 20 years, involving Apple, Amazon and Walmart that combined created more than US$500 billion in shareholder value.

Galloway write of the Bezos plan that he “outlined a vision for at-home Covid tests, plasma donors, PPE equipment, distancing, additional compensation, and protocols to adapt to a new world” declaring that competitor Walmart can’t follow because they don’t own their distribution chain and few others can afford this level of investment.

“Any customer, vendor, supplier or worker who wants a near-virus-free supply chain, a criterion that has gone from zero to light speed in 90 days, will have a selection set of one. It’s possible the largest new consumer category in history is testing for Covid-19 virus and immunities,” the Prof writes.

“Bezos’s decision to spend billions to ensure the safety of his supply chain stems from a vision that’s obvious only after being crazy/genius.”

Read more of what Professor Scott Galloway has to say here.


3. Canva Pro’s massive content upgrade

Canva Pro has had a massive upgrade, adding 15-times more content without upping the price. There are now more than 60 million premium images, 20 thousand videos,  audio tracks, and more than 3.5 million graphic elements as part of its subscription-based product, which costs US$9.95 a month

Head of Canva Pro, David Burson said the upgrade was designed to help small-medium business owners and marketers – with 80% using the platform in a marketing capacity,

“This upgrade will also extend to more than 50,000 organisations around the globe who are using Canva Pro as part of our Nonprofits program,” he said.


4. Queensland startups ramp up online learning

Brisbane wunderkind, the Scott Millar, the 19-year-old founder of edutech startup BOP Industries, has collaborated with another startup, Grand Company, to launch online live tech industry education classes for students globally.

The BOP Online education platform is designed to teach primary and high school students about entrepreneurship, innovation and STEM online.

Millar says since launch more than 10,000 parents, teachers and students from over 20 countries around the world visited the platform and in five weeks, they’ve been working with students to redesign the floor plans of aircraft for ultra-long-haul travel, start their own online ecommerce businesses, explore low orbit space travel and more.

“We felt this was the perfect opportunity for us to convert some of our favourite face-to-face workshop programs into an online format,” Millar explained

“After working with over 40,000 students in the past two years we’ve got a substantial archive of programs and it just made sense to make them accessible to students, teachers and parents in their time of need.” 

Grand Company founder Dhawal Nayak, Founder said he launched an immersive 4-hour industry online education program order to support students who can’t currently gain hands-on work experience. 

“Grand Company was created to provide students with a range of work experience opportunities, job shadow roles, apprenticeships and traineeships at local businesses, however seeing as we can no longer send students out to job sites and corporate offices we wanted to find a way to deliver the same value in another format,” he said. 

Check it out here.


5. Linktree hits 5 million users

 Linktree, the Melbourne-based tech startup that launched in 2016 and, which connected the followers of celebrities, brands and others to their entire online ecosystem has seen its user numbers explode in the covid-19 era, passing 5 million users globally last week.

Co-founder Alex Zaccaria says his startup has seen increased growth from industries where in-person events, appointments, and gatherings were thought to be the only way for them to succeed, with new users in education, charities and nonprofits, and health and wellness are up by an average of 27% in April.

The numbers are good all around, with revenue increasing 250% on 12 months ago, and the business doubling its user numbers in less than a year, with around 20,000 signing up daily at the moment.

The company’s been busy on other fronts too, adding 12 new employees to the business via virtual job interviews to doubling the engineering team’s size.

“While relatively small, we have an exceptional pool of tech talent here in Australia. When you look at our user base and growth trajectory you wouldn’t think we would have been able to do this with such a lean team. Despite the fact that 80% of our users are based outside of Australia, our goal in the coming months is to continue growing our Australian team and supporting the local tech ecosystem as we do,” Zaccaria said.


BONUS ITEM: Startup Daily is a massive fan of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, in part because under Richard Tognetti, who’s marking 30 years as artistic director mostly from home this year, the ACO has been one of the country’s most innovative arts organistations, embracing technology and experimenting with the boundaries of music. The company created ACO Homecasts, a digital concert series, broadcast weekly on Facebook, YouTube and other digital channels, with support from Telstra, and the musicians stitched together while performing in ISO at their homes.

Last week that released this meditation of contemporary composer Arvo Part’s 1977 work Tabula Rasa. As Part himself says: “”This tiny coronavirus has showed us in a painful way that humanity is a single organism”.

We hope you enjoy. May we all restart with a clean slate soon.

The ACO performs Arvo Pärt's 'Tabula Rasa' in isolation

"This tiny coronavirus has showed us in a painful way that humanity is a single organism… No-one knows how we will come out of this, but we all know that nothing will remain the same." – Arvo PärtThis special performance of Arvo Pärt’s ‘Tabula Rasa’, produced by Richard Tognetti and cinematographer Jon Frank and featuring the musicians of the ACO, offers a reflection on these challenging times and was produced to give thanks to our patrons for their ongoing support.The COVID-19 crisis has devastated the arts industry, and we are relying on the support of our patrons now more than ever. If you are able, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our Excellence Fund to ensure our future: www.aco.com.au/donate

Posted by Australian Chamber Orchestra on Wednesday, 6 May 2020