Welcome to Ignition Lanes Weekly Wrap, where they cut through the noise to bring you their favorite tech and startup insights. Ignition Lane works with ambitious business leaders to apply the startup mindset to their technology, product and marketing problems.
This packaging is made available to subscribers free of charge every Saturday. Don’t forget that you can watch Gavin Appel talk about the week every Monday at 2 p.m. on the Startup Daily Show on Konstruiz. If you miss it, this is where you can catch up on the week’s shows.
Here is your review of the week.
Move over Apple, there’s a new ecosystem in town
Commonwealth Bank injected a lot of cash this week, investing $ 30 million in a 23 percent stake in the online shopping website Little Birdie and $ 20 million in a 25 percent stake in electricity trader Amber ( more on this below). Great reviews.
The investments show a bold and deliberate ecosystem game by CBA. This is a departure from a previous reluctance to start with early-stage startups – aside from a $ 300 million investment in BNPL Klarna (which underperforms in Australia), an investment in R3 (blockchain) and the joint acquisition of PEXA (possibly) to be acquired by KKR and Domain for $ 3.1 billion.
It also deviates significantly from Westpac’s Banking as a Service strategy.
Fintechs are increasingly targeting the most profitable parts of the value chain of banks – Transferwise offers simple exchange rates at better conditions; Athena offers convenient, affordable mortgages. and Superhero, for example, offers a cheaper way to trade stocks. It could be argued that any startup will be a fintech.
In order to protect its market share and create additional stickiness, CBA’s strategy is to leverage its existing customer base, customer data and brand awareness to offer products that go beyond banking. For example, Amber will offer CBA customers discounted prices, while Little Birdie will offer personalized shopping deals based on a customer’s transaction history.
The other half of CBA’s strategy is to acquire and launch fintechs to help the core of CBA under its x15 Ventures arm launched last year. x15 has acquired or supported Doshii (point of sale integrations), Payble (business loans), Backr (company formation), Credit Savvy (credit scores), Vonto (centralization of business data) and Home-In (property purchase services). To help startups operate within the regulatory and security constraints of the banking sector, x15 recently introduced “xStack”, known as the “Enterprise Grade Venturing in a Box Platform”.
CBA invested $ 10 million in funds for Square Peg and Zetta Venture Partners through 2020. Square Peg is also an investor in Amber.
Will CBA prevail against the other big banks with this strategy? If it’s done well, it’s entirely possible. They’re moving fast and the market is happy – its stock price hit an all-time high of over $ 100. However, it is understood that consumers want their bank to be the center of everything.
Regardless of this, it is nice to see that the banks are realizing that (1) the digitization of the status quo will no longer affect it in the future; and (2) sometimes it is best to leave new product innovation to independent teams.
Healthy Hi-Tech. Last night’s NZ Hi-Tech Awards showed that NZ is well above its weight:
Hi-Tech Company of the Year: Fisher & Paykel Healthcare
Most innovative hi-tech hardware product and agritech solution: Halter, a farm management tool
Most Innovative Hi-Tech Solution for Creative Technologies and Startups of the Year: Moxion, Filmmaking Workflow Used by the World’s Leading Filmmakers. Moxion has been used on Oscar-nominated films – Promising Young Woman, World News, Midnight Sky, and Mulan
Hi-Tech Emerging Company of the Year: Whip Around, an inspection and maintenance tool for fleet managers
Most innovative hi-tech software solution: Rocos, a platform for robot operations
Most innovative deep-tech solution: Nano Layr, with which nanofiber fabric is made from strands that are up to 400 times thinner than a single strand of hair
Hard life. KPMG published the results of its “Fitness, Fulfillment and Foresight” survey. It shows that the majority of founders remain optimistic in the short term, even though business uncertainties, finances and workload are a major cause of stress. The founders still struggle with physical fitness and want more time for themselves. Fast statistics:
80% of the founders are early risers
31% work over 61 hours per week
27% have not taken a vacation in the past 12 months
Speed looks like:
Benchmarking time: Speed to USD 10 million in sales for @ airtreevc portfolio companies (shown in color; date of establishment = year of establishment). Free loot for anyone who can name it all! 🚀🤓 pic.twitter.com/EZtIADAA8L
– John HΞnderson (@johnhenderson) May 28, 2021
Skedulo won Salesforce ISV (Independent Software Vendor) Partner of the Year – APAC.
Zip acquires two BNPL companies. It will pay $ 140 million for the remaining stake in European operator Twisto Payments and $ 21 million for the purchase of Spotti, which operates in the Middle East.
Robo invests for women. She is a member of the Money podcast host Victoria Devine and, in collaboration with Six Park, has launched an investment app for her social media community of 170,000 followers. Aimed at millennial women, the app is a white-label version of Six Park that uses algorithmic technology to automate investment recommendations. Devine and Six Park will operate under a profit-sharing agreement.
Australia’s first SPAC. The Brisbane-based fast charger for electric vehicles Tritium is said to be quoted over 1.2 billion US dollars via a SPAC on the NASDAQ. Its products can charge an EV battery super fast – 20 miles in one minute or 100 miles in five minutes – ideal for public charging stations. The founder and managing director of the Tiger Financial Group and ex-Reinventure partner Kara Frederick is on the board.
Linktree has partnered with Square to set up a $ 250,000 Passion Fund for entrepreneurs, artists and activists.
Pizza Tech. Yum Brands (a US parent company behind KFC and Pizza Hut) has submitted an offer to acquire ASX-listed Dragontail Systems and valued the company at USD 93.5 million. Its machine learning cameras monitor pizza quality and provide the technology behind Domino’s Pizza Checker as well as the popular customer order tracker.
Xero increased its prices. A timely reminder for the founders out there: When was the last time you checked your prices?
Buy Aussie Now raised $ 2.3M for its online marketplace, which was launched 10 months ago. Just in time for the Australian Made Week!
iVvy raised $ 7M for its event and venue management software in a pre-IPO round. The round was chaired by Thorney Investment Group and Gandel Invest. The Queensland-based company has already amassed more than 25,000 users in 14 countries.
Pyn raised $ 8 million led by US mega-VC Andreessen Horowitz (his first investment in Australia – Investment Notes). This follows a $ 2.2 million seed funding led by Accel in July 2020. Pyn helps companies deliver more targeted messages when communicating internally. Shopify, Rubric, and Carta are early customers. Pyn was founded by Joris Luijke, who held VP of People titles at Atlassian and Squarespace, and CultureAmp co-founder Jon Williams.
FiberSense raised $ 11 million from “a who’s who of the telecommunications industry” who believe FibreSense technology could be bigger than 5G. FibreSense is led by Bevan Slattery (the founder of iSeek, PIPE Networks, NEXTDC) and led by former sonar researcher and CEO Dr. Mark Englund founded. The technology uses existing telecommunications fiber assets to detect and capture “tiny vibrations from nearby objects” that are transmitted to a centralized digital platform. This platform then processes this data in order to digitize, categorize, label and, if necessary, edit the vibrations.
Artrya raised $ 15 million. The company claims to have developed the world’s first imaging technology with which endangered plaques that cause heart attacks can be identified precisely and quickly.
Amber raised $ 20 million from the Commonwealth Bank. Amber is a green power retailer that provides consumers with access to wholesale prices that are especially affordable when renewable energy is abundant (usually in the middle of the day and overnight).
Little Birdie raised $ 30 million from the Commonwealth Bank … on a pre-launch valuation of $ 130 million! Little Birdie is the brainchild of Catch founders Gabby and Hezi Leibovich. The e-commerce startup wants to become the “new home page for online shopping” and will have over 70 million products to track, search and compare. CBA will integrate selected shopping content from Little Birdie into the CommBank app. Little Birdie will also have access to the bank’s 11 million customers.
mx51 raised $ 25 million led by Acorn Capital, Artesian, Commencer Capital and Mastercard . mx51 was spun off from Assembly Payments and is the first Australian fintech company to develop a payment as a service platform with banking quality.
Blackbird invested in Forte Global (Investment Notes – undisclosed amount). Forte is an education funding system that aims to turn the unemployed into modern jobs.
Dawn Aerospace, founded by Christchurch has raised an undisclosed amount from Movac. The investment will be used to scale up production of Dawn’s propulsion products in space and develop Dawn’s Mk-II, a suborbital aircraft powered by rocket engines, into a full-fledged commercial service.
No stopping of the freight trains – great technical news
More groundbreaking. Salesforce revenue rose 23% year over year to $ 5.96 billion in Q1 22 – an incredible growth rate when you consider revenue in excess of $ 20 billion. The sales forecast for 2022 has been raised to a cool $ 26 billion. That figure includes a contribution of $ 500 million in revenue from Slack (the acquisition is expected to close in July) and $ 190 million in revenue from Acumen Solutions (which it planned to acquire in December 2020).
Founder and CEO Mark Benioff has created a truly impressive, diversified empire thanks to some great acquisitions and the development of ecosystems.
Salesforce Ventures has now made over 500 investments including Athena Home Loans, Airwallex, Autopilot and GO1 here in Australia. This week, the company participated in Forter’s $ 300 million increase on a $ 3 billion valuation (led by Tiger Global) and Qualified.com’s increase of $ 51 million. Forter offers ecommerce fraud detection, while Qualified.com offers a conversational marketing platform specifically designed for businesses using Salesforce.
The company has nearly 60,000 employees and ranks # 1 in Glassdoor UK’s “2021 Best Places to Work” and # 2 in Fortunes 2021 “100 Best Companies To Work For®”.
To learn more about the size of Salesforce, see our August 2020 article on Salesforce.
Amazon buys MGM for nearly $ 8.45 billion. Amazon, which has the world’s second largest streaming service with 175 million users, prevailed over Apple and Comcast in its bid for the film and TV company. This is Amazon’s second-largest acquisition to date, after $ 13.7 billion paid for Whole Foods in 2017. Amazon spent $ 11 billion on content last year, while Netflix (which claims to be the “Netflix of Games”) spent about $ 17 billion. Amazon’s revenue rose 44% to $ 108.5 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
On Tuesday, an attorney general announced that he was suing Amazon on antitrust grounds. He claims the company’s pricing deals with third-party vendors wrongly increased prices for consumers and undermined competition.
Twitter attack. Police “visited” (some reports called it a robbery) the Twitter offices after requesting an explanation of why they called a tweet from the ruling party spokesman “manipulated media”. An hour after the search attempt, police evacuated Twitter’s offices because they were closed and there were no Twitter employees on the premises (they all work from home).
🤯 Stripe has over 1500 open positions. launched Payment Links this week (although Carted’s Mike Angell says Stripe made this technology back in 2015, it just got a repaint and better product positioning).
Google’s inequality problem. Four women who were Google employees received class action status for their gender equality lawsuit, representing 10,800 women. The lawsuit alleges that Google pays men nearly $ 17,000 more than women for the same job. Earlier this year, Google agreed to pay employees and applicants $ 2.5 million for alleged discrimination based on pay and employment. It was also in hot water because of its treatment by two AI researchers who were women.
Epic v. Apple. A three-week Epic hearing against Apple ended Monday. According to Epic, Apple is abusing its market power in relation to the App Store. Fortnite was removed from the App Store after Fortnite created a workaround to avoid paying Apple’s 30% commission. We can wait for the verdict until August. Who will win? If you stick to Judge Rogers’ interrogation, you would be putting money into Epic:
But you could monetize it differently, right? I mean, that is, the gaming industry seems to be generating a disproportionate amount of money relative to the IP you give them and everyone else. In a sense, it’s almost like they’re subsidizing everyone else.
In the meantime, you can read about secret contracts with Netflix and discussions about whether bananas should wear clothes in court. Or maybe you wonder if Tim Cook falsified his answer that he didn’t know how profitable the App Store was (it grossed over $ 60 billion in 2020 and the profit margin could be up to 78%).
Crypto & other worlds
Iran temporarily bans crypto mining after repeated power outages in some of the country’s major cities. According to the BBC, Iran runs a program that requires Bitcoin miners to pay extra for electricity and sell their coins to the central bank.
AR NFT. Anima, an AR NFT platform, received $ 500,000 from Coinbase and others.
Israel founded monday.com to list in the United States. The filing shows the project management software company’s revenue increased 85% to $ 59 million, while its net loss increased to $ 39 million from $ 19.9 million in the U.S. with three months ended March 31 .
Virgin Galactic completed their third successful flight to the edge of space.
Monica Lewinsky won the Internet.
– Monica Lewinsky (she / she) (@MonicaLewinsky) May 21, 2021
That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed it.
Bex, Gavin and the team in Ignition Lane