Your 90-second guide to the day in tech

- February 25, 2021 4 MIN READ

G’day gang, it’s Thursday already. Here’s your local and global tech news.

Don’t forget to tune in for the Startup Daily show on Ausbiz.com.au  every weekday, 2-2.45pm. Watch online, download the ausbiz app or via 7Plus.

Square buys BTC

ack Dorsey’s actual money spinner, the payments platform Square Inc, spent another US$170 million in the fourth quarter buying Bitcoin, with the CEO saying he plans to “double down” on the crypto.

“The Internet needs a native currency, and we believe bitcoin is it,” the also Twitter CEO said.

“By us owning bitcoin, our incentives are aligned with skin in the game”.

Square’s payments service Cash App, has had BTC on its platform since 2018 and the app now has 3 million active bitcoin customers in 2020. Square said one million bought in for the first time last month.The details emerged in Square’s quarterly financial update, with the company’s revenue more than doubled to $3.16 billion, with bitcoin buying helping bolster those numbers by around 2%.


Facebook media tax becomes law

The Morrison government’s News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, which forces the biggest tech companies in the world hand over wads of cash to prop up the biggest media companies in Australia (and yes, you’d be right in thinking that Startup Daily, like many hundreds of startup media companies around the country, does not fit into that category), was passed into law by the federal parliament today.

In a bout of modest self-praise, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who last week managed to get a whole bunch of Facebook pages for organisations that get no benefit from the code blocked by the social media giant – NB: despite Monday’s truce between the two tribes, we’re among the many still waiting for Facebook to find time in its busy schedule, when counting the $2.5 million in ad revenue it pulls in from Australian businesses daily, to turn things back on – declared that the Code was “a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament”.

“Our commitment to legislating the Code reflects the importance of a diverse and well-resourced news media sector to our democracy and the Australian people,” he said.

He went on to talk about public interest journalism being sustained as a consequence, which will make a nice change from the self-interest journalism many in the media have focused on during this debate.

The Code will be reviewed by Treasury within a year of it kicking off “to ensure it is delivering outcomes that are consistent with the Government’s policy intent”.

MedAdvisor doubles revenue

Medtech startup MedAdvisor (ASX: MDR) released its half year results to December 31 today, with recognised revenue of A$12.9 million, up $7.7m (191%) on the previous corresponding period (pcp).

The company’s purchase of US strategic partner, Adheris, contributed for six weeks of that period, with MedAdvisor US (incorporating Adheris) delivering US$19.3m pro-forma in sales for HI FY21, up 85% on pcp and beating the company forecast by 60%.

Full year CY20 pro-forma revenue hit A$56m, up 24.3% on CY19, while operating cash inflows rose 185% A$13.8m for the half-year.

Gross profit rose 90% to $7.4m, while core EBITDA climbed 88% to $2.6m.

MedAdvisor CEO and MD Robert Read said the results were a significant uplift in the company’s profile.

“Commercialising our partnerships and technology across the world presents a significant growth opportunity,” he said.

“The Adheris analytics engine ingests 2.2 billion prescriptions per year and powers successful health programs for global pharmaceutical companies. The contribution Adheris
has made to the MedAdvisor business in the first 6 weeks of ownership has exceeded our expectations.”

The US arm generates around 80% of the company’s revenue.


Future Fund for fintech?

The Future Fund, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, kicked off in 2006. It has $218 billion under management and six public asset funds backing ventures that address medical research, disability care, drought, emergency response, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and the sea.

But Seed Space Venture Capital managing director Dirk Steller said argues the Fund should be leading the way and spurring investment into fintech.

Geneva-based Steller says that all 14 venture and growth investment managers used by the Fund are international and don’t focus on Australian investments (which must be a challenge if they’re looking to back Aboriginal ventures). He’s keen for the local sector to get a slice of the pie and wants the government to direct the Future Fund to allocate a minimum portion of investment to the Australian fintech sector through Australian venture capital investment managers.

The Future Fund operates independently of government, thankfully, so good luck with that.
Steller also wants the government to review the tax offsets and incentive programs designed to encourage local investment in Australia, arguing they remain significantly lower than in other countries.


Tweet of the Day:

Check out this thread about Facebook. It’s about the company removing an image of a man who defied the Nazis and died doing so being removed six years after it was posted because the company decided it breached community standards. Facebook offered an appeal, but when Baxter tried to, it was “can’t, coz covids”.