Your 90-second guide to the day in tech

- March 4, 2021 4 MIN READ
Xero, Steve Vamos
Xero CEO Steve Vamos

Yay! We’ve made it to Thursday.

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Xero’s $284m job tool

Accountancy platform Xero has acquired the 17-year-old Danish workforce management platform Planday for €155.7 million (A$241m) upfront, plus a subsequent earnout payment of up to €27.8 million (A$43m). Around 45% of the initial cost will be payable in shares in Xero (ASX: XRO) and 55% in cash.

Planday has more than 350,000 employee users across Europe and the UK. The software simplifies employee scheduling, allowing businesses to forecast and manage their labour costs. Following the acquisition, Planday will expand its presence into other markets where Xero operates.

Planday currently operates are Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the UK, Germany and France. The business, which has been a Xero ecosystem partner since 2019, will continue to offer services to existing customers and partners, including other accounting software providers.

Xero CEO Steve Vamos said the acquisition “aligns with our purpose to make life better for people in small businesses and their advisors. Planday’s workforce management platform helps small businesses to respond to the rapidly changing nature of work. Planday also addresses the growing need for flexibility and rising compliance demands
within the workplace.”

In lunchtime trade, Xero’s share price is down nearly 3% to $115.62.


Electric chopper’s $300m raise

German air taxi startup Volocopter has raised €200 million (A$302m) in a series D, with the decade-old venture saying the cash injection will be used to take its VoloCity, a battery-powered air taxi for cities, to certification and accelerate the launch of its first commercial routes within the next two years.

New investors in Volocopter include funds managed by BlackRock, Atlantia S.p.A., Avala Capital, mobility technology giant Continental AG, Jericho Capital, NTT , Tokyo Century, and others, along with all existing investors, including Geely, Daimler, DB Schenker, Intel Capital, btov Partners, Team Europe, and Klocke Holding joining the round. The company has now raised €322 million.

Volocopter has performed several milestone flights in Helsinki, Stuttgart, Dubai, and over Singapore’s Marina Bay in recent years. Services in Singapore and Pari, then routes in the US, Asia, and Europe, are on the drawing board.

CEO Florian Reuter declared Volocopter the clear market leader.

“No other electric air taxi company has publicly performed as many flights in cities around the world, with full regulatory approval, as Volocopter has,” he said.

“Our VoloCity is the fifth generation of Volocopter aircraft and has a strong path to being the first certified electric air taxi for cities. Volocopter already has the extensive partnerships necessary to set up the UAM [urban air mobility] ecosystem for launching both our company and the industry into commercial operations.”

VoloCity electric air taxi by Volocopter

VoloCity electric air taxi by Volocopter



We ventured down the non-fungible token (NFT) rabbit hole in yesterday’s guide with news that Grimes sold her art as NFTs. Even Christies is getting into the lark – read more about that here.

Now digital marijuana is a thing. Forbes reports that Jessie Grundy founder and CEO of California cannabis brand Peakz, now a legit businessman after his days flogging weed to high school classmates in Oakland, is offering a “world first” digital dope called “Lava Coin”, which exists only online using blockchain tech.

Forgive us for thinking this sounds like the old Emperor’s New Clothes story sold to an online generation. Apparently you can’t have a toke of your crypto cannabis, but if you want to swing by his place, he’ll skin up for you.

“This digital cannabis strain will live on the ledger forever, and it having a physical counterpart makes it one of a kind,” Grundy told Forbes.

Perhaps this is proof that drugs are indeed a waste of money. Bids so far sit around A$100.


DigitalX raises $8.8m

ASX-listed Bitcoin-related startup DigitalX (ASX:DCC) is raising A$8.8 million from US institutional investors. The company said the funds will be used to accelerate its business plan by growing its funds management division while continuing the development and rollout of its Drawbridge regtech product.

The placement will comprise the issue of 97,963,164 new fully paid ordinary shares at a price of A$0.09, a 2% discount to the volume weighted average price.

Leigh Travers, Executive Director of DigitalX said: “With tailwinds in the Bitcoin and digital asset market and the potential growth opportunity for the funds management division, the Company believes it is an appropriate time to raise additional funds to accelerate the business”.


Quantum space match

Q-CTRL, the quantum technology startup, is joining Australia’s Seven Sisters space mission, supplying quantum sensing and navigation technologies for 2023  uncrewed lunar missions

Q-CTRL will develop its quantum technologies in coordination with Fleet Space Technologies, a nanosatellite startup and founder of the Seven Sisters consortium. The missions are designed to find accessible water and other resources in support of NASA’s Artemis program to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 and create a sustainable human presence for later crewed Martian exploration.

Key applications will include remote detection of liquid water and mineral deposits through quantum-based gravity detection and magnetic field sensors. Quantum-enhanced precision navigation and timing (PNT) will also be deployed to provide guidance for long-endurance missions with limited telemetry contact.

Q-CTRL also plans to leverage its work with the space consortium to offer new commercial applications of geospatial intelligence for defense, finance, and climate change mitigation.


Tweet of the Day:

SN10 stuck the landing (but then blew up 15 minutes later). Best of luck SN11:

Missed Wednesday’s 90-second guide? Read it here.