This Week in Australian Startups #52, 28th January 2024
No deep dive this week, but I did want to share some observations as we close out January.
Layoffs continue globally, in fact surging with 23,760 people laid off according layoffs.fyi, the most since March 2023. Here at home, we’re seeing this trend starting out with big tech - last week Amazon cut a third of its Twitch workforce and the Australian team was also impacted. As AI adoption increases, there’ll be continued pressure from markets and boards to drive further efficiency in headcount. There’ll be more startups forced to shut down or raise bridging rounds - similar to last year.
Downstream as a result, we are seeing more M&A in Australia - just this week Prospa acquired Zip SME, Autodesk acquired Payapps, ReadyTech is looking to scale through M&A and last week saw 5 acquisitions.
You could say it’s a rocky start, but it feels more like a car stabilising after jumping off a ramp - the come down from ZIRP highs.
I’d expect even more M&A in the first half of this year, and a couple of big rounds for those startups who have been able to adjust course last year now ready to scale globally.
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Why it matters that Australia unmasked the Medibank hacker (AFR)
The founding CEO of The Tech Council of Australia, Kate Pounder will step down from the role after three years at the end of next week (Startup Daily)
Loam Bio has kicked off 2023 with its official launch in the USA where farmers across six states will start larger-scale pilot programs with the technology (BNA)
Autodesk acquires Melbourne software prop-tech Payapps (BNA)
Prospa snaps up Zip SME loan business for $15.6M (BNA)
Escalating staff costs preceded job cuts at Aussie unicorn Culture Amp (AFR)
Dovetail co-founder Bradley Ayers announces move from executive to board role as he seeks his next challenge (LinkedIn)
No easy task for would-be Airtasker acquirers, shares spike (AFR)
Appen shares crumble 40pc as Google walks (AFR)
ReadyTech seeks scale via M&A (AFR)
Crowd-source funding a consistent $70M market, Birchal yearbook shows (The Australian)
Billionaire-backed Stake.com to take horse racing bets after deal with Racing and Sports Technology (The Australian)
Media giants Seven, Nine and News Corp discuss alliance to negotiate AI deals (Capital Brief)
How Leonardo.Ai plans to take on OpenAI and Midjourney in tech's hottest segment (Capital Brief)
Press Play Ventures launched their first cohort of their corporate to startup Pre-Accelerator (LinkedIn)
Sonder, an employee care platform, has raised $16M in a Series B extension round led by the SEEK Growth Fund (AFR)
Willow, the proptech that makes digital twins for asset owners and managers to help with decision making, has raised $18.2M from existing shareholders
Heatseeker AI, which uses AI to help companies speed up the process of market testing and product validation, has raised a $1.3M Seed round (Business Insider)
Novatti subsidiary AUDC, the holding company for AUDD, has closed a $600K pre-seed round (Australian Fintech)
Around The World
Were there too many PMs:Engineers in the ZIRP era? (Product Growth)
New UK rules will drastically lower the number of women able to angel invest in startups (Sifted)
Apple’s Proposed Changes Reject the Goals of the DMA (Spotify)
Here’s the new Apple tax every developer is going to hate (The Verge)
Microsoft lays off 1,900 Activision Blizzard and Xbox employees (The Verge)
Ola founder’s Krutrim becomes India’s first AI unicorn (TechCrunch)
Netflix says Vision Pro is too ‘subscale’ for it to care about (9to5mac)
FTC opens inquiry into Big Tech AI investments (Axios)
Business travel management platform TravelPerk raises $104M led by SoftBank (TechCrunch)
The next Figma? Kittl raises $36m to take on Adobe (Sifted)
Bilt Rewards secures $200m investment, propelling valuation to $3.1bn (FinTech Global)
Voice AI startup ElevenLabs lands $80m from a16z and Sequoia — and becomes a unicorn (Sifted)
BillingPlatform Secures $90 Million Growth Equity Investment from FTV Capital (PR Newswire)
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