Hit it, DJ! and other local newsings
Welcome to Ignition Lane’s Wrap, where they cut through the noise to bring you their favourite insights from the technology and startup world.
When two become one. Big consolidation news for the DJ tech world and another big kiwi tech exit: Auckland-based DJ and music production software company Serato is being acquired by AlphaTheta Corp in a deal likely worth more than NZ$100m. Serato has been at the forefront of DJ culture and tech for the last 25 years, amassing a community of millions of DJs, producers, engineers and musicians around the world. AlphaTheta is the parent behind Pioneer DJ, which is one of the biggest DJ hardware and software producers.
Simply the best. Canva was named as one of Time’s 100 most influential businesses and Fast Company’s #1 Best Workplace for Innovators. With these titles under its belt and tech talent becoming more plentiful, it’s not surprising to see Canva tighten up its performance management system – now ranking its people by achievement tiers to identify underperforming staff.
Time to say goodbye. AirTree and CommBank x15 Ventures-backed proptech startup :Different went into voluntary administration after struggling to raise further capital. :Different digitises property management tasks involving paperwork and admin for owners, investors and renters. The hosts of FuckUp Nights Melbourne have decided to shut down the local arm of the popular storytelling event – “you’ve got to know when to let go”. Airwallex transferred ownership of its Indian and New Zealand entities from Australia to the Cayman Islands. Tax shmax.
I’m too sexy. Aussie eco soap startup Single Use Ain’t Sexy has been acquired by travel amenities company, Buzz. Single Use Ain’t Sexy will shut down its direct-to-consumer operations and shift its focus to the wholesale travel market.
The artist formerly known as. Fashion deal app Her Black Book has relaunched as Wrapd.ai after “hearing from a lot of men that the app sounded like a dating service.” Alongside a $1.8m raise, the rebrand is a bid to get more male customers and reach an international audience. The app, which offers flash discounts and cashback on purchases for retailers including The Iconic, Selfridges, Farfetch and Net-A-Porter, has around 20,000 active users.
Money, money, money. Women-focused fintech Verve launched ‘Verve Money’ to complement its superannuation product and raised $3m. Verve Money allows investors to choose between three ethically curated portfolios with different goal time frames, risk levels and anticipated returns. The portfolios include impact-focused alternative investments including a minimum 20% investment in climate solutions.
You are my sunshine. Climate Salad released its Climate Technology Industry Report. As you’d expect, it shows lots of momentum in this space. 3,000+ new jobs have been created in Australia, with a further 2,400 expected soon. 47% of Australian climate tech companies are already global.
Insurer IAG’s CVC Firemark Ventures is partnering with Jerusalem Venture Partners, and Margalit Startup City to explore and nurture new climate change and risk assessment technologies in the US, Israel, and Australia.Toilet paper startup Who Gives A Crap convinced one of the biggest landlords in Australia to install solar panels on their warehouse, including the word CRAP. They share some handy tips to help other businesses to follow their lead with solar power.
Movie star. Coming to Amazon Video and Apple TV on 1 August, ‘Founder‘ is an upcoming series delving into the lives of some of Australia’s most successful startup founders from Canva, SafetyCulture, Finder and Brighte.
Trending in capital raising land
VC stats this quarter. Cut Through Ventures released its quarterly report on local startup funding. Things have picked up 20% compared to the last quarter, with $810m raised across 90 deals in the last three months. So some improvement, but still significantly lower than 2021 levels. More voluntary administration and down rounds on the horizon.
Crowdfunding. Birchal’s fifth annual report on crowdsourced funding in Australia showed a 26% decline in funding compared to the previous year. The average deal size was $763k, with an average investment of $1,739. Food and beverage startups were the leading category, raising $23.7m.
New SaaS-focussed funds. Our Innovation Fund raised $55m for its new Opportunity Fund, which will target tech businesses with more than $10m in annual revenue. Black Nova is raising $35m for its second fund, with an investment thesis of “boring is better… the less-glamorous, but essential, businesses solving acute, and the everyday problems for the mid-market and enterprise customer.”
Related: Productiv released its 2023 State of SaaS Series on insights on SaaS growth, spend, consolidation and usage. Key insights:
- On average, organisations use 371 SaaS apps. The average department uses 87 apps. However there are indications that businesses are focussing on app consolidation – there has been an 11% reduction in the number of SaaS apps across key categories in 2023, such as project management and recruitment tools.
- US$9.6K per employee will be spent on SaaS apps in 2023
- Only 47% of licenses are actively used (assessed over 90 days). The larger the organisation, the higher the wastage.
- The vast majority of contracts have a one-year term.
Also related: NZTE/Movac released a handy SaaS pricing and packaging guide.
Battery tech bonanza. Sicona raised $22m to develop low cost, scalable next-gen battery materials that enable electric-mobility and storage of renewable energy. HydGene Renewables raised $6m for its alternative green hydrogen solution. EVOS raised $5m for its EV chargers, which are now aimed at consumers, as well as commercial fleets. The first model provides an average car with a range of up to 120km in an hour, as well as controlling charging times to make use of solar or off-peak electricity.
AI everywhere. A new report from the Tech Council reckons generative AI could be worth between $45bn & $115bn (up to 5% of GDP) by 2030. Some interesting AI-related raises this month: Secure Code Warrior raised $50m to work on an AI platform to write highly secure code. Nullify raised $1.1m for its cybersecurity bot that analyses the code within existing workflows to identify and fix any issues. Sherlok raised $3.4m for its mortgage repricing and refinancing platform that uses AI to predict loan book churn.
Women backing women. ModiBodi founder, Kristy Chong has made her first two investments since selling her company for $140m last year. Both investments were in women-founded companies (also in battery/charging tech and AI):
- Laronix has created an electronic voice prosthesis for people who have had their larynx removed. The prosthesis monitors the respiration signals a person’s body makes when they are trying to speak and uses AI to produce a voice.
Everty allows businesses that install EV chargers (e.g. property managers or shopping centres) to monitor the equipment for outages, to ramp charging up and down depending on how much energy is being used elsewhere in the building, and to take payments.
AI and other hype around the world
M-ai-king bank. Microsoft will charge $30 per user per month for businesses that want to use its AI copilots to automate work in its Office products. This represents the most significant new revenue opportunity for Microsoft’s Office business since it switched to a subscription model.
Price of AI: $1.3bn. Databricks bought MosaicML, a 60 person AI startup founded 2 years ago, for US$1.3bn (its last round valued it at $222m). Inflection raised US$1.3bn from Nvidia and others to build the world’s largest GPU cluster (using chips from Nvidia, of course).
AI Policy. The UN Secretary-General has endorsed creating a UN agency to deal with AI threats, like how AI might be used in weapons of mass destruction or AI’s role in spreading conspiracy theories. Not at all alarming. On another note, the Grammys (music awards) has a new policy on the use of generative AI that requires humans to contribute to songs in “a meaningful way.”
China rebound abound? China announced a AU$1.5bn (7.12bn yuan) fine for Ant Group’s violation of laws and regulations – one of the largest ever fines for an internet company in China. Many market watchers hoped this could signal the end of a multi-year regulatory crackdown on the country’s technology sector. But shares haven’t rallied and investors clearly aren’t convinced.
Disrupted pickle. Netflix’s password crackdown and advertising tier appear to be working, resulting in 5.9 million new customers last quarter – more than double Wall Street forecasts. But overall results failed to impress (revenue $8.19bn, operating profit $1.49bn). Shares were down more than 8% after the announcement of its results. Meanwhile, Hollywood writers and actors are on strike, and entertainment profits at non-Netflix entertainment giants have plummeted from previous highs of US$23bn in 2013.
Social wars. Snap now has 4 million paying subscribers (much more than Twitter). In a big win for local startup Linktree, it is also rolling out ability for all users to add links to their bios using an exclusive integration with Linktree.
The Metaverse may be dead. But Zucks doesn’t care – he’s got bigger fish to fry in the shape of Elon Musk. Meta launched its Twitter competitor Threads, and managed to amass almost 100m users just a few days. Of course, Twitter/Musk has threatened to sue, and has even challenged Zuckerberg to a “Literal Dick Measuring Contest.”
That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed it.
Bex, Gavin and the team at Ignition Lane
Gavin and Bex make it their business to know everything going on in technology, startups and venture capital.
Gavin is the Founder and CEO of Ignition Lane. He has 25 years of experience in the technology industry across startups, corporates and venture capital. Gavin was a founding Partner at venture capital firm Square Peg, an SVP of Product and Technology at Experian, and was one of the first employees and CTO at Hitwise – a venture-backed startup that was acquired for US$240m in 2007.
Bex is a founding Partner at Ignition Lane. Driven by curiosity, her career is the epitome of unconventional – spanning technology commercialisation and operations, corporate law, IT delivery and more. Applying this unique mix of skills and experience, she now works with CEOs and their teams to solve problems, drive growth and move beyond the status quo.