Panic! at the SVB & metrics that matter

16 March, 2023
Panic! at the SVB & metrics that matter | News | Pause Awards
Ignition Lane Wrap monthly
Gavin Appel & Rebecca Eastwood
16 March, 2023

Welcome to Ignition Lane’s Wrap, where they cut through the noise to bring you their favourite insights from the technology and startup world.

Panic! at the SVB
We bring you some breaking news…

Silicon Valley Bank—a banking innovator and stalwart for VCs and startups operating in the U.S. (including many ANZ startups) for the last 40 years—has been shut down by regulators after a shocking 48 hour bank run.

The move comes after SVB announced on Wednesday that it lost $1.8 billion in the sale of U.S. treasuries and mortgage-backed securities that it had invested in, owing to rising interest rates. The bank also said that it was raising more capital and investing into higher-yield products. Panic ensued

Regulators are now in control of the bank. It will reopen on Monday, when insured depositors will be able to access up to $250k in deposits. It may take weeks before remaining deposits can be accessed.

SVB was one of the top 20 U.S. commercial banks, with US$209 billion in total assets at the end of last year. This is the biggest U.S. bank collapse since 2008.

Goings on in Aussie venture land
No more cheap money = fire sales, company collapse and mass redundancies. Yet it might still be a great time to startup – early-stage funding is on the rise, new VC funds continue to sprout, and the war for talent has ended.

Startup State. LaunchVic released its 2022 Ecosystem Mapping Report, finding that Victoria has an early-stage ecosystem valuation of $23.6bn and is home to more than 2,650 startups. “Larger” startups are on the rise, with 32% now having 10 or more employees compared to just 21% in 2018.

State of startups. Cut Through Venture released the State of Australian Startup Funding report. Startups raised $7.4bn across 712 deals in 2022, down from more than $10bn in 2021. Valuations fell by an average of 29%. Later stage deals dived off a cliff in the second half of the year, but early-stage deals continued to climb – deals under $5m up 13% to 428, and deals between $5-$20m remained steady at 158 deals.

Going once, going twice, sold? 34% of investors reported to Cut Through Venture that at least one portfolio company collapsed in 2022. Capital intensive companies have been hit hard, in particular. In December YourGrocer (grocery delivery) collapsed. In January so did Brosa (furniture ecommerce). And in February Openpay (BNPL) called in the administrators.

Sadly, we’ve no doubt there’s more to come. Milkrun (instant grocery delivery) recently laid off 20% of its workforce and shut down its delivery hubs, and is reportedly looking for buyers. Baraja (LiDAR for self-driving vehicles) made around 75% of its workforce redundant.

When billionaires disagree. Sun Cable is also up for sale, after its billionaire shareholders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest clashed over its direction. Sun Cable plans to link the NT with Southeast Asia, which will make it the biggest solar generation and transmission link in the world.

VC news quickies:

  • University of Melbourne’s new fund Tin Alley Ventures raised $100m. Important given LaunchVic’s report found that only 6% of Vic startups currently commercialise tech developed at a university. We need to get better at this.
  • EVP closed $100m for its fourth fund.
  • Salus Ventures launched a new $40m fund for fields such as defence, robotics and advanced manufacturing.
  • Xero founder and former CEO Rod Drury and investor Atlanta Daniel announced the official launch of Radar Ventures, which has already invested in Psylo, Cortical Labs, Eden Brew, Fable Foods and others.
  • Blackbird promoted Phoebe Harrop, Tom Humphrey and Michael Tolo to GPs.
  • Salesforce cut the local operation of its VC arm.
  • Bailador wants everyone to know it doesn’t suffer from FOMO, confirming it did not invest in any new startups in 2022, “seeing no deals in the hundreds it reviewed that met its quality threshold.”

Doing deals faster than Tiger Global in 2021. It’s been a busy start to 2023 for mining magnates Andrew “Twiggy” and Nicola Forrest. Their investment vehicles have become one of the largest backers of Startmate (startup Accelerator and Fellowship programs), and participated in rounds for SpeeDx’s (molecular diagnostics – $26m raise), Rumin8 (livestock emissions reduction – $17m top up), CurveBeam AI (bone fragility imaging – $25m raise) and Fabrum (green hydrogen solutions – NZ$23m raise).

Climate tech continues to trend. Loam Bio (storing carbon in agricultural soil) raised $105m, Fable Foods (alt meat) raised $12m, MGA Thermal (renewable energy storage) received a $560k grant from Shell, and Sumday (carbon accounting) raised $2m.

Metrics that matter (to VCs)
5 metrics to nail if you are chasing the VC dollar bill y’all (according to Salesforce Ventures investor Jessica Bartos):

  1. Growth: you’ll need to show phenomenal growth, particularly at the early stage. At the earliest stages, investors typically like to see you go from launch to $1m ARR in 12 months or less. From there, remember the acronym of T2D3 – tripling for 2 years and doubling for 3 years.
  2. Net Dollar Retention: greater than 100%
  3. Gross Margin: 70-80%
  4. Growth rate + profit margin: greater than 40%
  5. Burn Multiples: for companies with less than US$25M ARR, less than .5x is best, and for those with $10-25M ARR, less than .8x is better.

Around the world
Making sense of the times. Analyst Benedict Evans released his annual presentation, explaining everything that’s been happening in big tech recently.

The future

ChatGPT everywhere. Microsoft reentered the search wars launching a new Bing, with ChatGPT built in (post by Microsoft’s Head of Bing about the engineering behind it). Github’s Copilot is now live, prompting coding suggestions (Microsoft owns Github). Snapchat added ChatGPT to its chat service. Allen & Overy is using a ChatGPT-based legal drafting assistant. Instacart plans to add a recipe robot.

Meta’s copycat machine is back in action. ANZ is the test ground for Meta’s new new subscription service, à la Twitter. For $20+ a month, Instagram and Facebook users will get a blue “verified” mark, access to better security features, more visibility in search, and prioritised comments.

Amazon on steroids. In just four months, Temu, a new shopping app grew from zero to 44.5 million unique visitors. The Pinduoduo-owned app has now overtaken TikTok, YouTube, and Amazon to become the most downloaded free app in both the Apple App and Google Play stores in the U.S.. What’s more, its spend retention is far higher than similar consumer shopping apps. Customers are hooked. A16z breaks down how and why.

Consumer spend retention

Before we go, a quick note for IWD. Two easy actions you can take to improve gender equality at work:

Consider whether the next roles you hire could be part-time. You’ll be able to attract a wider pool of talent and afford more experienced people with a limited budget.

Take 2 minutes to advocate for better pay (via Georgie Dent) for early childhood educators. There’s a massive shortage of educators. They’re extremely underpaid, despite childcare costing a fortune. Without these people, many parents can’t return to paid work… or talk live on tv:

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.

Congrats to all winners at Pause Awards '22!
Pause Awards - Standard Trophy
2022 Hall of Fame winner – Prof. Fiona Wood
Pause Awards '23 entries open on 17 May
Pause Awards Trophy

Big shout to all Pause Awards '22 winners!


Category tracks

Creating a safe and open space in which everyone thrives and the collaboration flows through all levels and titles with the power of the one team. The entries should demonstrate how the transformation has been achieved across core business functions, that have delivered a positive impact and growth for business, staff, stakeholders and customers. Judges will only refer to written entries during the evaluation process. No additional research will be undertaken, and for this reason, we recommend you give detailed and sharp answers.

Celebrating commercial effectiveness through success in the marketplace by leaving a dent in the universe, no matter what the size of the company. The entries should demonstrate the highest levels of expertise, leadership and vision in the application of their business strategies. Judges will only refer to written entries during the evaluation process. No additional research will be undertaken, and for this reason, we recommend you give detailed and sharp answers.

Standing up for your purpose and going beyond together as a team aligned on the single mission to positively impact the environment, people and community. The entries should demonstrate ideas intended to change the world; work which sets out to positively impact ingrained gender inequality, social imbalance or injustice. Judges will only refer to written entries during the evaluation process. No additional research will be undertaken, and for this reason, we recommend you give detailed and sharp answers.

Only awarded to a single entry in each category track, Grand Prix is the highest accolade in Pause Awards. To win the Grand Prix, the entire Judging Board must unanimously agree that the entry deserves the accolade of being the best in class.

​​Focusing on the productivity and elegance of execution to deliver impactful ideas to a market (or many) with the power to cut through the noise. Entries should demonstrate how the innovation and optimisation of the customer journey led to scaled consumer engagement and commercial success. Judges will only refer to written entries during the evaluation process. No additional research will be undertaken, and for this reason, we recommend you give detailed and sharp answers.

Elevating every voice in the ecosystem is not just important for its collective success, industry development but also for the future growth. The entries should demonstrate ingenuity which leads to the creation of new products and services, through leadership, by elevating the internal culture and communities they serve. Judges will only refer to written entries during the evaluation process. No additional research will be undertaken, and for this reason, we recommend you give detailed and sharp answers.


  • Diverse Co.

    For nurturing an inclusive environment. This award recognises a workplace that has successfully and intentionally encouraged innovation among diverse employees.

  • Large team culture

    For fostering innovation. This award recognises a workplace with over 1000+ employees that has outpaced their cohort in fostering a culture of innovation.

  • Medium team culture

    For fostering innovation. This award recognises a workplace with 21-999 employees that has outpaced their cohort in fostering a culture of innovation.

  • Small team culture

    For fostering innovation. This award recognises a workplace with less than 20 employees that has outpaced their cohort in fostering a culture of innovation

  • Work sweet work

    For a great workplace culture. This award recognises a company that has managed to improve or attain outstanding levels of employee engagement, retention and satisfaction.

  • Company of the Year

    For the best company. This award recognises a company leadership, success, ambition to excel against all odds with the solid future development plans.

  • Defiant ones

    For new tech breakthroughs. This award recognises a company that defines the future of the industry they play in.

  • Hall of fame

    For a lifetime achievement. This award recognises a game-changer who paved the way by breaking new grounds and inventing new categories.

  • Hammer

    For nailing it. This award recognises a company's success – on their own terms – in the market.

  • I wish I'd done that

    For sheer brilliance. This award recognises a company's simple and clever idea in a niche market.

  • Indi

    For new and First Peoples. This award recognises a successful company with its founders from indigenous or ethnic heritage that gained success in the market.

  • On the rise

    For early stage mavericks. This award recognises an early stage startup that has done well in its first three years.

  • Prodigy

    For being exceptional. This award recognises a young person with exceptional qualities or abilities.

  • Women in business

    For breaking the mould. This award recognises a successful female leader and entrepreneur who is paving the way forward for the future generations.

  • B-Good

    For a good business. This award recognises a company that has done well to change our economic system to positively impact all stakeholders through their commercial practice.

  • Circular Pioneer

    For making a difference. This award category recognises a company that is pioneering their circular efforts.

  • Going green

    For delivering impact at scale. This award recognises a company that is actively leading and delivering impact and scale through sustainable efforts in clean energy, climate change, healthy environment, social and economic justice etc.

  • You've got ethics

    For the leadership in environmental social governance. This award category recognises a company that is promoting accountability, good governance, leadership in Corporate Social Responsibility and solving societal problems.

  • Design first

    For design lead products. This award recognises a company that is using design to drive product innovation with the entire company onboard.

  • Inception

    For visionary thinkers. This award recognises a person that came up with the transformative idea that can change the world for better.

  • Out of the garage

    For scaling globally. This award recognises a company's global growth, expansion, and success.

  • Unexpected twist

    For a great pivot. This award recognises a company that has taken an unexpected pivot in their business or career.

  • Wildfire

    For conquering a marketplace. This award recognises a company that has made a significant impact on the marketplace in the shortest amount of time.

  • Backbone

    For backing the future idea. This award recognises a VC firm with a portfolio of companies that have made a significant contribution to the growth and success of the AU economy.

  • Brave Angel

    For early stage support. This award recognises an angel investor that has garnered a portfolio of companies and has a good track record of helping founders succeed.

  • C-Suite

    For the best leadership. This award recognises the highest-ranking executive that has impeccable leadership, management and interpersonal skills.

  • Do you know who I am

    For the silent achiever. This award recognises a person that has been responsible for the success of their company from the backstage.

  • Future builder

    For grit to start a new venture. This award recognises a founder at any level and life stage who has decided to start jumping the hoops of their own business.

  • Hottest hub

    For the best community. This award recognises a co-working space that provides boutique experience, world class facilities with community management.

  • Launch pad

    For activating the support systems. This award recognises an accelerator that has a good reputation in providing the best startup program with industry connections.

  • Super connector

    For being the community champ. This award recognises a person for a significant contribution to the success of their clients or the community.

Pause Awards '23 is launching on 17 May
00d : 00h : 00m : 00s
Get notified
Pause Awards Night, Trophy
Signup to be reminded when the Pause Awards launch next in 2023.