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Aussie tech start-up scene in good shape: Google Maps founder

Thursday, 25 August 2011 | By Oliver Milman

Australia is well placed to produce some of the world’s leading tech start-ups in the coming years, according to the founder of Google Maps.

 

Lars Rasmussen, who is currently visiting Australia, told StartupSmart that he was impressed by the level of innovation he’s witnessed at events such as Tech23, which was held in Sydney this week.

 

“It’s obviously not quite as crazy as Silicon Valley, but there seems to be a growing number of people interested in entrepreneurship here,” he says.

 

“You have a critical mass of people now who want to do something new, rather than just an odd one out who wants to do something crazy. “

 

Rasmussen, who now works as a lead engineer for Facebook in the US, says that he was impressed by several start-ups at Tech23, calling StageBitz “very interesting” and saying that OrionVM was “very ballsy” for taking on a cloud computing area in which Google and Amazon are very strong.

 

Rasmussen created Google Maps with his brother Jens after his Sydney-based start-up was bought by the search giant in 2003.

 

Since leaving for Facebook last year, he has also found time to sit on the board of Australian start-up Posse, which allows bands to reward fans who spread information on them.

 

“Posse will be a big deal, I think,” he says. “It has the potential to do something on a global scale and Rebekah (Campbell, the founder) is doing something special there. She has be chance to change the world.”

 

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the stuff going on in Australia, given the size of the country. Australians have always been keen on technology – the penetration of Facebook and Google is the highest in the world here.”

 

“I’ve seen a few Australian businesses that try to be the Australian version of Groupon or another US business, which is fine, that’s a great business model. But in my own view, I’m more excited by something completely new, which is why I like Posse.”

 

“Australia may be a smaller market than the US, but California is only a plane journey away and it’s possible to raise money there and run the business from here.”

 

“Also, in the tech space, it’s easier to hire engineers here than the Valley, where the evil Facebookers and Googlers are hiring everyone.”