Google is developing its own competitor to Uber, Bloomberg reports. The company is preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service, likely in conjunction with its long running driverless car project. Google, through its venture capital arm Google Ventures, invested $US258 million in Uber in August 2013. Since 2013, Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development David Drummond has served on Uber’s board of directors. According to a Bloomberg source, Drummond has informed Uber of the possibility that Google will be entering the transportation network space and the company is now deciding whether to ask him to resign from the board. Bitcoin mining company KnCMiner raises $15 million Despite being on the receiving end of several lawsuits from customers, bitcoin mining company KnCMiner has raised $15 million in a Series B Round, led by Accel Partners, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Stockholm-based KnCMiner now largely mines bitcoin for itself, but it originally sold bitcoin mining equipment to customers, who paid thousands of dollars per machine in advance of receiving the equipment. Some of those customers are suing the company in Swedish courts, alleging the company delayed shipment, sent faulty equipment, and are demanding refunds. Twitter starts selling ads outside of Twitter Twitter has started running its “Promoted Tweet” ad unit on top of other people’s apps and sites, in what’s the beginning of a new revenue stream for the social media giant – ads that don’t appear on Twitter, Re/code reports. Advertisers who already use Twitter can run the same ads in the same format on places outside Twitter that display tweets. Twitter will share the revenue with the third-party platforms. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 305.36 to 16,666.40. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US78 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
THE NEWS WRAP: Founder of ShipYourEnemiesGlitter says site made five-figures in sales within 24 hours1:08PM | Wednesday, 14 January
The founder of ShipYourEnemiesGlitter, an Australian startup that took the internet by storm yesterday, says his website is for sale after turning over five figures in less than a day. Mathew Carpenter – who also founded the Bye Rupert web browser extension – took to Twitter to say he was willing to sell his website which allows people to send enemies glitter in the mail for $10. Everyone from The New York Times to Mashable ran stories on the startup after the website was featured on Product Hunt and Reddit. Carpenter claims the website received one million visits, 270,000 shares on social media and made six figures from glitter sales within one hour. ShipYourEnemiesGlitter with 1m visits, 270k social shares, $xx,xxx in sales, tonnes of people wanting to order. 24 hours old. For sale. — Mathew Carpenter (@matcarpenter) January 14, 2015 Facebook unveils Facebook At Work Facebook is making the leap into the enterprise market with the launch of its new Facebook At Work product. TechCrunch reports the platform will allow businesses to create their own social networks among employees in a manner that looks and operates just like standard Facebook. Facebook At Work is available on the iTunes and Google Play stores, and will also be accessible through the company’s main site. Employees can create separate accounts for the work accounts; however, they can then link this to their personal profile. Online education company Lynda raises $186 million Online education company Lynda.com has announced a $186 million capitals raise to accelerate acquisitions and new content initiatives. The capital raise was led by global investment firm TOG along with existing investors Accel Partners, Spectrum Equity and Meritech. Chief executive of Lynda, Eric Robison, said in a statement the investment was a “tremendous vote of confidence” in the company’s ability to empower people through learning. Lynda.com offers thousands of online classes and video tutorials to its users in English, French, German and Spanish. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 172.43 points, falling 0.98% to 17,441.25. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US82 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
It’s been a big year for the Australian startup ecosystem. Success stories like Atlassian and Campaign Monitor continue to go from strength to strength and the ecosystem is growing. According to the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association the 2014 financial year saw the highest level of venture capital activity in dollar terms over the last 10 years. That uptick was despite “tough fundraising conditions” and the federal government’s termination of the Innovation Investment Fund weighing on local venture capital activity. Here are some of the startups that contributed to the ecosystem’s success and caught StartupSmart’s eye over the past year. In no particular order: 1. Eyenaemia What better way to begin than with a startup that literally wants to save people’s lives. Anaemia, a deficiency in the number or quality of red blood cells, currently affects an estimated two billion people worldwide, including 293 million. It is the cause of 20% of maternal deaths every year. It’s an easily treatable condition but is often symptomless. If left untreated it can lead to serious complications. Eyenaemia has developed a simple non-invasive treatment, which allows anaemia to be diagnosed through a mobile app, and a quick selfie. They won the Microsoft Imagine Cup, and are currently conducting large scale field tests to confirm their solution works. 2. Canva Sydney-based design startup Canva’s goal is no less ambitious – it wants to “democratise design”. This year it rolled out its design marketplace, which allows professional designers to contribute layouts and earn royalties every time their designs are purchased. Perhaps most significantly, it also signed up Apple’s original Mac evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, as its chief evangelist. 3. Scriptrock Startmate graduate ScriptRock, an Australian IT DevOps company, raised $9.8 million in a Series A round, led by August Capital. Also participating in the round were Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, and Square Peg Capital. As of August, less than 12 months after launch it had signed up 600 customers and is looking to scale up growth. 4. CoinJar Australia’s leading bitcoin startup left Melbourne, setting up its headquarters in London, a city competing with Australia to be the world’s leading fin tech startup location. The relocation is part of the startup’s grand plan to expand into Europe. It also released Australia’s first bitcoin debit card, which enables bitcoin to be used to pay for goods and services anywhere where debit cards are accepted. If (when) digital currency becomes mainstream in Australia, there’s a good chance CoinJar will have had a lot to do with it. 5. Invoice2go Invoicing app startup Invoice2go was one of Australia’s big startup success stories of 2014. Founded by Chris Strode in 2002, in 2014 the startup raised $35 million led by Accel Partners and supported by Ribbit Capital. It’s got serious traction in the form of 120,000 customers and is looking a potential market of 100 million. 6. LIFX After holding one of Australia’s most successful kickstarter campaigns, smart lightbulb maker LIFX took out the top award for smart systems in the consumer goods category at the 2014 Edison Awards. It then partnered with Sequoia Capital and raised $12 million in Series A funding. It wasn’t without setbacks, however, after concerns emerged that its light bulbs could be hacked, leading to debate about the security of IoT devices. 7. VentureCrowd Australia’s first equity-based crowdfunding platform, VentureCrowd helped facilitate the raises of two companies, opening up a new way for startups to raise capital. Transportation network and mobile payments startup ingogo used VentureCrowd to raise $1.2 million of a $9.1 million raise in September. It then helped fashion startup Fame and Partners raise $50,000 of a larger undisclosed funding round. With regulation that will open up equity crowdfunding to retail investors expected to arrive mid next year, these two deals look like just the first of many. 8. OneShift Online recruitment platform OneShift has grown to service 400,000 job seekers and 35,000 businesses. The platform, which founder Gen George describes as a “dating website for jobseekers”, matches employees with businesses looking for anything from one-off shifts, causal work, or permanent employment. The startup impressed Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman at a pitch session at Above All Human in Melbourne earlier this month. 9. That Startup Show The web-series produced in Melbourne wasn’t even a startup when it launched. Since the pilot episode launched on YouTube in August, the series has attracted more than 110,000 viewers across Australia, Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States. It secured angel funding from Alan Jones and technology foundry Digital4ge and completed filming its first season. Co-founder Ahmed Salama says the vision for That Startup Show is to provide a voice for startups not just in Australia but around the world. It’s also been negotiating with a number of possible distributors, including TV networks. 10. Shoes of Prey The Sydney-based online retailer is taking on the world. Earlier this month it raised $6.5 million from US-based Khosla Ventures in December. Those funds will be used to finance its bricks-and-mortar expansion in markets, including the United States. It’s already opened an office in New York and will be available in Nordstrom stores in Seattle, Washington, California, New Jersey, Illinois and New York. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Atlassian’s $US150 million ($A159m) share sale announced yesterday has rocketed co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes into Australia’s billionaire rankings. Farquhar talked to SmartCompany from Los Angeles last night as news broke of the deal which values Atlassian at $US3.3 billion. Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes are each believed to own close to 40% of the share capital and neither is selling down their stake as part of this sale, which leaves them with paper wealth of $1.4 billion each. Farquhar says the deal was brokered by “inviting bids from a small number of select parties” and will assist Atlassian’s future growth through an injection of both capital and expertise. “We have always been about thinking long term so the investors we get on board, like Accel Partners, help us set up the company for the next stage of growth,” he says. “As we head towards an initial public offering we’ve now got one of the largest tech investors in the US on board and with their public market experience they will really help us set up.” “It also allows our employees, some of whom have been around for 10 years to realise the value of their Atlassian stock.” Farquhar would not be drawn on the timing of an IPO for Atlassian but it is “not in the next few months”. The share sale is the latest move in a trajectory which has seen Atlassian soar to global prominence. In 2013, the business booked revenue of $US149 million up from $US111 million in 2012. Farquhar says revenue is on track to be “north of” $US 200 million for this year. He attributes Atlassian’s success to “taking a long term view of everything we do”. “At Atlassian, we want to be around in 50 years’ time,” he says. Farquhar plans to grow the business further by expanding into multiple markets. “As software development becomes an increasing part of every single business, our products actually become quite critical to every business,” he says. “That’s the area for growth of us.” Atlassian plans to achieve this growth without hiring a single salesperson. “We are not anti-sales; we are pro automation,” Farquhar says. “We take an engineer’s philosophy to everything that we do. We are really about scaling the business.” Although Farquhar concedes eventually Atlassian may have to follow a more traditional sales path if it wants to sell into large businesses at the top instead of going through the business’ developers. “In the future we may have sales situations where we need to speak their language,” he says. The biggest challenge at the moment for Atlassian is its stellar growth according to Farquhar. The business has averaged 40% year on year growth for the last five years. “We are growing fast. With that comes the inevitable issue of scaling, it sounds mundane but finding office space when you double in size every two years is hard.” Atlassian’s move earlier this year to shift its domicile from Australia to the United Kingdom caused some soul searching in Australia’s tech scene but Farquhar insists Atlassian is still an Australian company “through and through”. “We still collect all our revenue globally through Australia and the large number of people we are hiring are through Australia,” he says. Farquhar says the move followed a global search to find the best place for Atlassian to be based “for the best interests of the company”. Atlassian’s “back office people” analysed where Atlassian’s customers were, where the team wanted to live and settled on the United Kingdom. “We looked at Singapore but the UK made sense because of the treaties between Australia and the UK it is easier and the global investor base is more used to investing in a UK company.” But Farquhar does say the talent pool in Australia is limited. “We don’t graduate enough computer science graduates from university,” he says. “That is the biggest constraint on our growth.” “We have a unique company culture so we spend a lot of time on hiring for promotion and continuing that culture. I think half our staff have been here less than one year and four months.” Atlassian has previously criticised the government for its approach to 457 visas for skilled employees and Farquhar says the program is essential because the Australian technology environment has more jobs than people to do them. “Arrogance and lack of a strong industry in Australia meant we didn’t have mentors for a long time,” he says. “Our argument with the government on these visas is that a lot of the people who could train us are highly qualified people we need to import from Silicon Valley.” “Now we have mentors in our business and also on our board.” This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
Influx.com, a start-up providing targeted technical customer service online, has announced a successful seed-funding round from investors who have all previously backed start-up powerhouse 99designs. The investors are the SitePoint Group, including 99designs founder Mark Harbottle and Startup Victoria chair Leni Mayo. The founder of Influx.com, Mikey De Wildt, has previously worked for SitePoint as a developer. He incorporated Influx.com in late 2013. De Wildt told StartupSmart he’s targeting a small but growing niche. “We realised there was a gap for people who had created great tech offerings such as an app or plug-in but weren’t big enough to hire customer service people themselves. That group is only going to grow,” he says. Customers are the most important aspect to any start-ups, so convincing founders to outsource their support has been challenging. “Getting a founder to trust me with their precious customer support has been and still is a challenge. Getting face to face helps so I’m wracking my brains trying to work out the best way to scale that process,” De Wildt says. Scaling is De Wildt’s passion. Joining the 99designs team immediately after their Series A round with Accel Partners means he’s had experience in a rapidly growing company. “That experience scaling up that fast with customers was really good. It helped me come up with this idea, but also taught me a lot about hiring and product development and being part of a successful start-up,” he says. The funding will enable Influx.com to grow their team and start investing in marketing campaigns.
Former Smart50 winner Atlassian is moving its domicile to the United Kingdom this year to get ready for an initial public offering outside Australia. Documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission late last month show Atlassian will reincorporate in England and Wales, following a vote of the technology company’s shareholders. Atlassian has grown from a small start-up into one of the biggest companies of its kind, employing 530 people across the world and turning over more than $100 million. In 2010, Accel Partners paid $60 million for a stake in the business, setting off a trio of investments in Australian companies. The company was contacted for comment, but no reply was received prior to publication. Atlassian isn’t the first company to move offshore to further its growth, and it certainly won’t be the last. Here are five reasons Australian businesses are heading offshore. 1. The window is open for IPOs Gary Nicholson, a partner in Ernst & Young’s transactions team, told SmartCompany there is currently strong institutional demand for IPOs both in Australia and overseas. “We talk about the IPO window at certain points in the investment cycle, and we are at that point at the moment where there is strong support and quite a number of companies looking to raise capital,” Nicholson says. Nicholson says there were more IPOs in the fourth quarter of 2013 in Australia then there were in the whole of 2012 and strong listings overseas as well. 2. Peer companies Nicholson says many Australian companies look to list overseas as there are more companies similar to them. “The issue of peer companies is really important, the more peers you have, the better understanding of your company and more liquidity of your stock,” he says. “In the UK, the advantage would be there are more comparable companies. The Australian market is quite small, so a lot of tech companies fail to have enough investor support in Australia.” Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 3. Appetite for investment There’s more appetite for investment for innovative industries offshore, according to Tim Cheong, a partner in the tax advisory group at Crowe Horwath. “I think it is industry specific, we see it particularly with innovative industries like it, more so because the appetite for investment through the UK and US is a lot higher,” he says. “We see smaller companies struggling to raise capital as well and it is often easier offshore.” 4. Lower corporate tax rate Cheong says lower corporate tax rates are also an incentive for businesses to move offshore. “We see movement offshore for the tax rate as the corporate tax rate hasn’t moved here compared to the UK, where it is moving to a 20% rate down from 24%,” he says. 5. Attract employees For technology companies like Atlassian, employees are often international and highly mobile. Cheong says a move to the UK may allow a company to attract more employees, as company share schemes used to incentivise and reward employees are easier to establish and administer there. This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
High-profile American entrepreneur Tony Perkins has highlighted US investors’ increasing appetite for Australian companies, ahead of Australia’s first-ever AlwaysOn conference.
US-based start-up success story Dropbox has acquired online photo library Snapjoy for an undisclosed sum, less than one week after its acqui-hire of music streaming service Audiogalaxy.
Israeli company MyHeritage has acquired long-term rival Geni.com after raising $25 million in new funding, as the genealogy industry continues to grow both overseas and in Australia.
The 2012 BRW Young Rich List has a strong start-up and tech flavor, with Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar heading the rankings.
The local head of US hosting giant Rackspace has risked provoking indignation among start-ups for claiming that Australia is “off the radar” of US technology firms investing in overseas markets.
Australian start-up 99designs has opened the doors of its Berlin office after making its first acquisition in German design marketplace 12designer, one year after raising $35 million.
The Finnish gaming company behind much-loved mobile app Angry Birds is preparing for an initial public offering in 2013, but says it’s in no hurry in light of Facebook’s ill-fated stock market float.
A new report reveals start-up funding in the United States is in decline, falling by 12% in the April-June period, but a local body says the fundraising climate in Australia isn’t quite as tough.
eBay Australia has followed in the footsteps of online retailer Etsy, establishing a physical presence in Melbourne, in a bid to further build its seller base.
A local Etsy expert has offered her key tips to start-ups looking to use Etsy as a selling platform, after it was revealed the Brooklyn-based online retailer is opening a showroom in Melbourne.
Facebook has finally set a price range for its upcoming initial public offering, telling the market it plans to sell shares at between $US28-$US35, in a move that will vastly increase the fortunes of chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and a score of other shareholders.
With Australian venture capitalists unwilling, or unable, to back new ventures, Aussie start-ups are increasingly heading to the departure lounge in an attempt to secure funding.
Crowdsource design giant 99designs says start-ups looking to secure funding need to justify how the money will be used, after the company revealed how its $35 million investment will be used to accelerate its growth.
Australian software giant Atlassian has revealed it doesn’t employ salespeople among its 450-strong workforce, but has still managed to almost double its revenue over the past 18 months.