This Week in Australian Startups #49, 10th December 2023
Before we jump in a quick update that next week will be the final update of the year, I’ll be taking 2 weeks off to spend time with family and friends and back to weekly updates from 7th Jan 2024.
Investing in More Women and Non-Binary Founders: Part 2 by Blackbird
Last week I wrote about an article from SmartCompany highlighting the last 11 public investments made by Blackbird had all-male founding teams - there was context provided by Blackbird particularly around the investments not made public which meant out of the last 22 investments they made 23% of these companies had at least one female in the founding team - above the industry average of 19%.
This week Blackbird’s Chief of Staff (Investments) Alexandra Gifford published an update on Blackbird’s progress and learnings on their mission to invest in more women and non-binary founders.
There’s a big shift in journalism and how we consume news. Information is becoming a commodity, whether it’s a funding round or a report that’s been published like this one from Blackbird - it’s accessible from many places and is largely undifferentiated.
Did reading this AFR article add any value, or provide any meaningful insight that I would not have gotten elsewhere? If anything there’s actually some opinions shared that, in my personal opinion, are unqualified and incorrect - and generally that’s why the media landscape is changing very quickly.
Traditional media was relevant when they controlled both the supply and distribution of information. They now have neither of those. With the advent of social media experts in each industry who are highly qualified to have an opinion are sharing that (supply) and places like LinkedIn/Google manage that distribution. We’ve seen this tension at play with traditional media leveraging their relationships with governments to make social media platforms pay for content to be distributed - I’ve wrote about this topic in more detail in June when Canada introduced legislation to this affect following Australia’s lead.
20 years ago business leaders were not writing articles, perhaps they’d write a book and have a guest post from time to time. We were reliant on professional journalists to write this content and interview experts for their opinions. Would you listen to medical advice from someone who has not worked in medical industry? Why would you then take business advice from someone that has not had real business experience. This is the view that’s becoming more popular and making rise to more quality content on LinkedIn than you’ll find in most media companies - get expert opinions directly from these experts, we’ve entered an era of industry-expert led opinions.
There’s still a place for media and professional journalism, particularly in real investigative journalism that experts won’t do. Most expert opinions are formed off the news reported by traditional media.
Takes like this are doing no favours for traditional media though.
Australia’s most prominent VC firm self-reported data that shows funding female-led start-ups is a no-growth sector.
There’s no mention of this anywhere in the data shared by Blackbird, and there’s plenty of data that exists that shows funding females and diverse teams leads to greater returns for investors - the very definition of a growth sector. If anything the data shared by Blackbird highlights how much they believe female-led startups is a growth sector given their activity and investments in their grass roots initiatives to create more female founders.
The Blackbird spokeswoman said the firm didn’t control when a start-up announced its funding round. To be honest, we doubt that.
To be fair it’s an opinion not a fact that’s been written, but anyone who works in tech will know that startups often delay the announcement of fundraising for strategic reasons ie big product launch, geographical expansion, timing etc…
Some other shares on LinkedIn on the topic of female founder funding this week worth reading:
David Smith on the latest Carta equity report “right through to the amount of venture to female only teams dipping under 3%. Everything is worse than a year ago.”
Georgia Vidler on how we can invest more in women
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Cut Through Venture’s launches OnePitch VC
OnePitch VC embodies the vision we set in 2021. The platform allows startups to submit their fundraising pitches directly to 25 of Australia’s most active startup investors through a single application. Each application is guaranteed to reach the inboxes of every investment team, creating a competitive environment among investors to swiftly engage with startups they find intriguing.
A single application to reach 25 of Australia’s most active investors is a compelling enough reason, but it goes further with a ‘No Ghosting Guarantee’ with every investor having committed to providing feedback on all startups that apply.
The most interesting, and exciting thing about this is how this can really build “a more open and equitable funding ecosystem for all founders” as Cut Through Ventures has stated.
Having data at this aggregated level is extremely difficult to obtain, let alone getting 25 investors to agree to it. This shows the commitment and unity of each of these VCs towards our ecosystem, and real action towards building our ecosystem together.
Initiatives like this are critical in providing greater access to capital and opportunity in particular for underrepresented founders who don’t have the networks or typically wouldn’t be able to get an audience with these investors.
A big shoutout to the team at Cut Through Ventures and every VC that’s participating
From online harassment to sexual assault at work events: Australia’s tech startup ecosystem needs to fully reckon with sexism (Missing Perspectives)
2023 Aussie Tech Sector Wrap-up by Elaine Stead (Medium)
Why Mentorloop got off the venture capital ‘hamster wheel’ (The Age)
Blackbird relaunches Foundry - it’s flagship product for early-stage deep and biotech founders in ANZ’s research institutions (LinkedIn)
Cheques flow for Australian AI startups, but talent remains tight (Capital Brief)
The 12 female-founded startups the University of Newcastle just helped women build (Startup Daily)
Winners of the Pause Awards (Startup Daily)
The 12 deep tech startups CSIRO chose for its latest ON Accelerate program (Startup Daily)
Jessy Wu, the first hire at VC AfterWork Ventures, appointed partner (Startup Daily)
Birth Beat acquired by Device Technologies for an undisclosed sum (Startup Daily)
The federal government is offering $18.5 million to set up a quantum growth centre (Startup Daily)
LiveTiles for sale as receivers move in (ARN)
Quasar to unveil satellite tech that can ‘hear the whole sky’ (BNA)
Crionet buys majority stake in LIGR, Australia's Canva for sports broadcasts (BNA)
Bidding war kicks off for comms-tech Whispir as Pendula swings in (BNA)
New data reveals the $4b reality of Australia’s ‘tech winter’ (AFR)
Merger crackdown risks VC funding going overseas (AFR)
Federal government moves to shatter big tech’s dominance and ‘anti-competitive’ behaviour (The Australian)
WA government is on the hunt for a partner it can give $4m to establish a new green technology hub (The Australian)
CropX acquires Green Brain to expand in Australia (CropX)
Appen is selling AI as its turnaround story. The market isn't buying it. (Capital Brief)
Advanced Navigation to make its own photonics chips (InnovationAus)
‘Far from perfect’ face matching laws pass Parliament (InnovationAus)
Around the World
Spotify cuts 17% jobs amid rising capital costs (TechCrunch)
Twilio lays off another 5% of employees following activist pressure (TechCrunch)
From Unicorns to Zombies: Tech Start-Ups Run Out of Time and Money (NYT)
Amazon’s Q has ‘severe hallucinations’ and leaks confidential data in public preview, employees warn (Platformer)
Once high-flying SmileDirectClub, valued at $8.9 billion just 4 years ago, to shut down after last-minute push to save it collapses (Fortune)
Threads is counting down to an EU launch next week (The Verge)
Amazon files motion to dismiss FTC antitrust case (The Hill)
Spotify’s Layoff Memo and the Art of Delivering Bad News (WSJ)
VC Firm OpenView Collapsed Because Two Senior Leaders Quit, Sources Say (Forbes)
After hack, 23andMe gives users 30 days to opt out of class-action waiver (Ars Technica)
Meta is disconnecting Messenger and Instagram chat later this month (Engadget)
Top Execs at Sports Illustrated's Publisher Fired After AI Debacle (Futurism)
Apple Quietly Releases MLX, an Open Source Array Framework for Machine Learning on Apple Silicon (Daring Fireball)
Google launches Gemini, the AI model it hopes will take down GPT-4 (The Verge)
Australian Funding Rounds
Leonardo.AI, a GenAI art production platform, has raised a $47M Series A round from Blackbird, Side Stage Ventures, Smash Capital, TIRTA Ventures, Gaorong Capital and Samsung Next (Startup Daily | AFR | TechCrunch) [BIPOC Founder]
Vantari VR, the VR medical training startup, has raised a $7M Series A round from Co:Act Capital, Acova Capital, Significant Early Venture Capital and Sirius Capital (Startup Daily | BNA | AFR) [BIPOC Founder]
Banana, the world's first fashion crowdfunding platform, has raised a $500K Seed round (LinkedIn) [Female & BIPOC Founder]
Nexba, a sugar-free drinks company, has raised a $4M Series B round from notable Angel Investors including David Koch and Pat Cummins (SmartCompany)
Pairtree Intelligence, a universal dashboard for Australian Agritech, converging IoT, Satellite and Drone imagery, Hardware, Software and web data, has raised an undisclosed sum from SVG Ventures (Thrive)
Omni Biotech, a world first real-time & non-invasive hydration measurement, has raised an undisclosed sum from Skalata (LinkedIn)
International Funding Highlights
Clothing rental platform HURR raises £7.9m (BusinessCloud)
Octopus EV gets $700M bank funding to expand employee EV scheme (Reuters)
ContactMonkey lands $55M investment to grow its email software for internal comms (TechCrunch)
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