An IT academic is calling for a coordinated strategy to boost the number of women in the technology industries, starting with girls in primary school. Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen lectures in IT and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at Griffith University. In her current class, there are 13 men for every one woman. “We all know it’s a problem. Tech now touches every aspect of our lives but we don’t have the diverse workforce we need to move it forward. There is no doubt we need more women,” Beekhuyzen told StartupSmart. The lack of women in start-up accelerator programs has been noted for some years now. But there are a growing number of events targeted at women in tech. “A lot of people are doing things but we need to launch a coordinated effort. We need to go big and bold and loud and make it clear it needs to be changed and we’re ready for it,” she says. Two of the most frequently cited issues holding women back from tech careers are a lack of role models and confusion about what a tech career actually entails. According to Beekhuyzen, the rise Yahoo! chief executive Marissa Meyer and Facebook chief of operations Sheryl Sandberg have been great for encouraging women, but Australia needs to do more to encourage girls of school age to explore tech. The Tech Girl Movement will target girls aged between 10 and 16 with a series of in-school programs, workshops and resources. It will also include a series of short chapter books to be launched this weekend. The Tech Girl Superheroes series was written to introduce technology and what it looks like to young female readers. “I wanted to create archetypes about tech girls, such as the explorer, the daredevil, the sophisticate. It’s a bit like the Spice Girls of IT. Not everyone liked the Spice Girls but it works because you can relate to one,” Beekhuyzen says. Beekhuyzen was today invited to meet with the Federal Minister for Education Christopher Pyne to discuss these issues and says she’s in this campaign for the long haul, even if it takes 20 years. The government is aware of the lack of women in IT degrees and the broader IT skills shortage. An ICT Workforce Study published in July 2013 by the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency noted the low numbers of women in ICT and recommended target support programs including a code of best practice and mentoring support. While these strategies are targeted at retaining tech women, the report also notes programs such as these send the right message to prospective female employees.
Today, like so many other days, your humble correspondent arrived and sat down at a desk in Taskmaster Towers. On the desk was a post-it note. Scribbled in the secretary’s handwriting, it appeared to say someone had called the office asking for the contact details of a well-known industry figure, who we’ll refer to as Jane Doe. As it turns out, many, many moons ago, a blog post was uploaded on to the Taskmaster Enterprises blog mentioning Jane Doe. If only someone invented some type of engine – a “search engine” if you will – that would allow you to type in a person’s name and receive a list of related links to websites. This magical, mystical website could be given a name like “Google”, “Yahoo!” or “Bing”. To make it extra easy for people, you could place the search field in the menu bar of just about every popular browser, including Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. Such a service could even be funded by placing paid advertisements based on the search words. Then people could type in “Jane Doe” and find the official Jane Doe website, then click the link that says “Contact Jane Doe” where Jane Doe’s work number, email address and Twitter handle could all be conveniently listed. Of course, even if such a magical, mystical service existed, some people would outsource the effort to someone else! And by somebody, I mean poor Old Taskmaster! Blah! Humanoids! I swear, they annoy me some days! Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now. Still, the whole episode is a poignant reminder of a couple of key business lessons. The first is the value of quality content as a marketing strategy. It really is the gift that keeps on giving! Seriously, if you haven’t updated your blog or your social media lately, do it now! The second and more important lesson is that most humanoids are lazy. Exceedingly lazy. (Well, okay, often stupid as well, but mostly just lazy.) The desire to do more with less effort has been one of the driving forces of human progress. Why hunt or gather food when you can plant some seeds, enclose some animals and wait for them to be eaten? Why grow your own when you can go to the supermarket and buy it ready to cook? Why cook it when you can microwave it? Why microwave it when you can just get Maccas? Why get Maccas when the local pizza shop delivers? Why wait for a driver when a drone aircraft can deliver it quicker? (Do you doubt that last one will happen within the next five years?) If you’re looking for a business idea, you could do worse by thinking through the worthless chores that annoy you and devise products and services that can avoid them. Because if your business plan enables your fellow human beings to that little more idle, you’ve got a potential consumer base. Sloth is a vice, not a virtue. But it’s one you can exploit – for profit! Get it done – today!
Federal government budget cuts could push Australia’s unemployment rate to a 10-year high, The Australian Financial Review reports economists warning. Employment fell by 23,000 jobs in December while the unemployment rate remained at 5.8% as the participation rate fell. “It certainly is a consideration about how aggressively the federal government can cut spending, given the softness we’re seeing in the labour market,” Macquarie Bank senior economist Brian Redican said. Canadian dairy giant about to swallow up Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Canadian diary giant Saputo is on the verge of taking over Australia’s Warrnambool Cheese & Butter after major shareholder and one-time bidder Bega Cheese accepted the company’s offer. The Australian reports that it is widely anticipated that other major shareholders – Murray Goulburn and Lion – will also take Saputo’s offer. Saputo’s Australian advisor, Rothschild managing director Sam Prentice said: “We’re obviously very pleased that Bega has announced it will sell into Saputo’s offer and expect many other shareholders will follow Bega’s lead.” Yahoo! COO in surprise exit Internet giant Yahoo! is parting ways with its chief operating officer in a sign its attempts to raise advertising sales may not be paying off. The surprise departure of Henrique de Castro after just 15 months in the job is seen as a setback for CEO Marissa Mayer. Yahoo! didn’t comment on the reasons for de Castro leaving, but speculation was strong that the company’s advertising revenues weren’t improving quickly enough. A replacement for de Castro has not been named. Markets The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.39% at 16,417.01 points and the Australian dollar is buying 88.2 US cents.
Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake has launched her latest online venture in Australia, a social media platform which allows users to “annotate the world”. Findery, Fake’s latest creation, is a free app (currently available through the Apple app store) which lets people leave digital notes anywhere in the world and then users are able to search for locations and find information and unexpected stories about the world around them. Effectively a new way to document history (past and present), Findery is about annotating the globe “from Adelaide to Austin”, says Fake. Fake told SmartCompany she came up with the idea on a camping trip with her daughter. “We were camping in Northern California and she was three at the time, we fell asleep inside a circle of Redwood trees and I had the thought that I wanted to be able to preserve the memory forever,” she says. “I started thinking about how I could do that, I wasn’t about to carve my initials into the bark of the tree, but being a tech entrepreneur the obvious answer was to create the technology to do it.” Fake says she discussed the idea with Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield, who turned out to have had a similar idea in 2005, but at the time no technology existed to make the idea feasible. Prior to launching the new social platform, Fake worked on making sure content was available around the world for users to engage with. “We’re excited to see it being in the users’ hands for the first time. It’s exciting for us to see its adoption and help people discover things they didn’t know about the world around them and encourage them to contribute their own stories,” she says. SmartCompany was given a preview of the new app and already users are able to read up on historically significant locations around them. A picture of people dancing in the street in celebration of the end of World War II adorns 350 Bourke Street’s geographical mark, Sydney’s Circular Quay has a description attached of when a fleet of 16 United States ships arrived on August 20, 1908, and at Woody Point Jetty in Queensland there is a photo of two fisherman and their human-sized catch from 1913. Fake hopes that users will start posting notes with information about what is going to happen in the future too. “Say for example someone is walking through the streets of San Francisco and they see a big hole in the ground, I want them to be able to click on the site using Findery and read people’s notes about what’s going on there and if it’s going to be turned into an apartment block.” Even when Fake created Flickr, she’d always had a desire to help build connections and communities of people. “This is what I care most about. The internet is great for people to interact and everything I’ve built has some element of an investigatory nature,” she says. “On Flickr people would have conversations about what they were experiencing, and Findery is very similar to that.” Fake’s experiences starting Flickr and then Hunch (a platform which aims to personalise the internet), have influenced the way she’s approaching Findery. “As entrepreneurs we all have the experience of some kind of catastrophic failure, it’s the nature of start-ups. One of the hardest things is raising capital and financing,” she says. “A lot find their way by boot-strapping, although now it’s easier for tech entrepreneurs because the software and technology is cheaper, but there are always things you can do better.” Fake says one of the biggest lessons she’s learnt is how to hire staff. “The most important thing is building a great team, everyone has to be excellent at what they do. You need to have really high standards, but a lot of start-ups have difficulty taking the time to find the best people,” she says. “Everybody can have a great idea, but fail to execute it because the team members can’t make it happen. The main thing is to start off with a standard of excellence and don’t ever compromise.” Fake says with Flickr she was so desperate at times that she hired the wrong people, but now realises it was a mistake. “Starting Findery was a very slow process, we’d get resumes and just say ‘not awesome, not awesome, not awesome’,” she says. “Starting out you don’t necessarily have any idea what awesome looks like, but you need to have a really good idea of the benchmark.” Flickr was acquired by Yahoo! in 2005 for a reported $35 million. Following the acquisition Fake started work at Yahoo! until she left in 2009. “I tried to take as much as I could from a start-up with me in terms of our product development and agile nature and bring it into the environment at Yahoo! … I called it ‘Yahoo University’, I knew there were certain things I could learn there I couldn’t at other companies.” Fake spent most of her time at Yahoo! in the search department and she took the lessons she learnt there with her when she started Hunch and now Findery. “I really do think that when Findery becomes a rich environment you’ll be able to go to San Francisco and take a tour just of the Victorian age or the summer of love in the 1960s,” she says. This story first appeared on SmartCompany.
Australian Evernote users received a shock this weekend when the company sent notifications indicating it had suffered a hacking attempt, and warned affected users should change their passwords straight away.
Twitter co-founder Evan Williams has identified the three reasons to sell a start-up, hoping to “create clarity” for entrepreneurs who are unsure whether an acquisition is the right move.
Yahoo! is redesigning the main entry into its website in a bid to create a “more modern experience” for users, suggesting start-ups can take inspiration from the embattled tech giant.
Yahoo! has acquired video chat broadcasting app OnTheAir in a bid to further expand its mobile offerings, less than two months after acquiring mobile recommendations app Stamped.
Late last night, in the mean streets near Taskmaster Towers, I witnessed something truly shocking. A fellow entrepreneur reached into their bag and then proceeded to pull out a heavy, solid, blunt object and point in my general direction. It was dark, but at first glance, it appeared like they had just pulled out a brick.
An app created in Melbourne that describes itself as a “micro-donation platform” has launched in Australia and the United States, having raised $1 million from investors including Seek co-founders Paul Bassat and Matt Rockman.
Yahoo! has made its first acquisition under the direction of chief executive Marissa Mayer, snapping up celebrity-backed mobile recommendations app Stamped for an undisclosed sum.
Sydney tech start-up incubator Pollenizer has branched out to Singapore, launching a new hub in the city state and launching its first start-up there.
Yahoo! is investigating reports of a security breach that may have exposed nearly half a million users’ email addresses and passwords.
It seems start-ups are the envy of their larger counterparts, with a new report revealing more than 70% of SMEs would be happy to start up a business again, partly for the sense of pride.
Spreets co-founder Dean McEvoy has declared himself a “start-up guy”, after it was confirmed he and fellow co-founder Justus Hammer are leaving Yahoo!7, which acquired Spreets last year.
Gone are the days when you can choose your new business’ name and logo safe in the knowledge that it won’t immediately be picked apart by consumers across the world.
Yahoo!7 may be starting to encounter the downside of the group buying industry as a new report indicates the media giant is no longer expected to make any more performance-related payments to its subsidiary Spreets.
The number of intellectual property lawsuits being filed by major tech companies could prevent future entrepreneurs from achieving success, according to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd has warned the Federal Government against pursuing a surplus at the cost of lower productivity.
Pollenizer-backed start-up Pygg has raised $600,000 in six months from a host of investors, including Yahoo!7 chief Rohan Lund and Tim Howard of Seven Network’s Vividwireless.