Your 90-second guide to the day in tech

- February 12, 2021 3 MIN READ
An artist's impression of SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet in orbit. Image: SpaceX

OK, we’ve made it to Friday and here’s what’s going down.

Here’s today’s news, and don’t forget to tune in for the Startup Daily show on Ausbiz.com.au  every weekday, 2-3pm. Watch online, download the ausbiz app or via 7Plus



Prominent tech mimic Facebook is looking at building its own version of Clubhouse, the conversation app that’s taken the startup sector by storm.

The New York Times reports that Facebook execs have ordered the troops onto a now-not-so-secret project, with a spokesperson saying the social media platform is “always exploring new ways to improve” its audio and video experiences.

Clubhouse has been spreading through the Australian startup community of late and Zuckerberg recently made his own appearance on the site. Last month the venture, which is an invite-only iPhone app, raised US$100 million for a US$1 billion valuation.



Speaking of Clubhouse, one of its much debated features is the US of the block button. Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen’s habit of routinely blocking journalists on Twitter appears to have extended to Clubhouse, including Elon Musk’s recent session on the platform.

So it’s interesting to read a defence of blocking by Casey Newton at Platformer, as a journalist in favour of blocking, even if it’s at times to his disadvantage. The other interesting details is that someone’s already raised US$1.5 million to launch Block Party, an anti-harassment startup so you can filter abuse on social media.


Microsoft takes on Google

We mentioned yesterday that the EU is looking to introduce an Australian-style code to force big tech to pay media companies. Having come out in favour of the Australian plan last week, Microsoft President Brad Smith has doubled down on the idea arguing that the plan should be rolled out in the US, Canada and Europe.

“The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead,” he says.

Read Smith’s blog post here.


Starlink lands

But it’s not cheap, costing $709 for hardware, plus $100 shipping, and $139 a month. We only know this from emails sent to potential customers. The company itself is not commenting on its Australian plans.


ACCC’s MYOB concerns

Competition regulator the ACCC has been looking an private equity-owned MYOB’s proposed acquisition of GreatSoft and is worried the deal will kill off a potential rival.

ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said: “We are concerned that if MYOB acquired GreatSoft, there would only be three major suppliers of practice management software to medium-to-large accounting firms.”

“GreatSoft is a new entrant that has won several medium-to-large MYOB customers, and we are looking into its potential to grow stronger.

“While GreatSoft’s customer base is currently small, the ACCC is investigating its potential to become a strong competitor as it appears to be a viable choice for many medium-to-large firms wishing to migrate to the cloud.”

The ACCC is seeking submissions in response to its Statement of Issues by March 5, with final decision is scheduled for April 22.


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