There is “something special” about this place — an Aussie-Eye View of Silicon Valley

May 31, 2009

Peter Sheahan, a writer for MySmallBusiness.com section of the Sydney Morning Herald has just returned from a couple of months in the States. And unlike a very popular previous post on this blog calling Silicon Valley “a graveyard” late last year, Sheahan finds that there’s “something special” about Silicon Valley in a story called “Where Geeks Rule”.

In the same way that everyone in Hollywood has a script or is talking about their next big pitch, everyone in the Valley has an idea and is talking about how to get it funded. Even now, in the eye of the GFC the Valley is still buzzing.

Sure, not like it does in boom times but the place still smells of opportunity and the inhabitants are on always looking for the next big thing.

Recessions are part economic and part psychology. The Valley has the psychology right, and we in Australia could learn from it.

What can be learned? Click here to read the rest of this piece.


ANZA and Advance “Word of Mouth”, June 2 in Silicon Valley

May 28, 2009

word of mouth advance Four Australian start-up CEOs will be in Silicon Valley next week
as guests of ANZATechNet, and Advance will be hosting its Word
of Mouth
Networking event to welcome these companies to the
Valley.

6:30 pm, Vino Locale
431 Kipling Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301

The four companies are here as part of a Global Acceleration Pilot Program (GAPP) sponsored by the Victorian Government’s Department of Innovation, Industry and Development (DIIRD) run by ANZA and Pyksis. To kick the evening off, each CEO will give a 30-second elevator pitch about his company to start the conversations flowing.

This will be an excellent chance to meet with other Australians living and working in Silicon Valley. Click here for more details and to RSVP before Tuesday, June 2.


Australia’s Innovation Programs and Venture Investment: It’s Just Not Good Enough

May 28, 2009

Brad Howarth has written an in-depth piece for Nett# Magazine on Australia’s current information infrastructure, as well as the government’s plans to strengthen it — and the answer he comes up with in a number of categories is that “it’s just not good enough.”

Of particualr interest to ANZA TechNet members is the section on “Innovation Programs and Venture Investment”, which says:

A critical area of growing Australia’s information future is our ability to produce home grown technology companies that can both generate revenue and jobs, and provide innovative reasons to attract and retain the best talent.

But it is a sector that was kicked in the teeth last year when the Government cancelled the Commercial Ready program. Twelve months later it has still not provided an alternative, despite commissioning the Cutler Report on innovation. Many start-ups relied on Commercial Ready to fund crucial research and development programs, and its cancellation has set some back by 12 months or more.

Serial entrepreneur Jonathon Barouch is critical of Australia’s lack of incentives for start-up businesses. He says the whole business culture of supporting entrepreneurs that occurs in the US seems to be lacking in the Australian psyche.

“In the US and Europe there are programs to help with training as well as tax incentives for SMEs and start-ups to encourage entrepreneurs,” says Barouch. “In Australia, policy makers seem to be determined not to extend any preferential treatment to start-up businesses, which is a real shame.

“In times of economic downturn, SMEs and entrepreneurs may prove the key in increasing employment opportunities for Australians.”

Access to venture capital has also been constrained, thanks in part to the poor performance of the superannuation funds that back them. According to investor and chairman of the IT think tank The Pearcey Foundation, Wayne Fitzsimmons, the number of new early-stage companies has diminished as entrepreneurs come to believe that raising capital will be too difficult.

Fitzsimmons says that only four venture capital funds remain interested in early stage IT companies in Australia – Southern Cross Ventures, Starfish Ventures, Innovation Capital and CM Capital – in comparison to the many dozens operating in the US.

While government funding is available through the Innovation Investment Funds, this still requires matching funds to come from the commercial sector.

Read the complete article by clicking here.


Australian Investors Target US Technology

May 15, 2009

From the May 15th Rust Report:

A group of Australian venture capital companies hit the headlines this week because of their involvement in a couple of investments in the US. Aussies Southern Cross Venture Partners (www.sxvp.com), CM Capital (www.cmcapital.com), and Allen & Buckeridge (www.a-b.com.au) took lead roles, along with Silicon Valley investor MDV, in a $US7.6 million round of strategic funding for securities trading specialist Mantara Inc, and Southern Cross also led a $US13.85 million round of series C funding for wireless networking chip maker Quantenna Communications.

Dr Larry Marshall, US-based managing director of Southern Cross, acknowledged that the economic environment is tough, but said that Quantenna is generating “substantial interest” from top consumer electronic manufacturers and “presented a great investment opportunity for us”.

Similarly, Mantara is making waves in tough conditions, noted Bob Christiansen, Australia-based managing director of Southern Cross. “We believe this funding will help build out its cutting-edge technology infrastructure and deepen its product and service offering at a time when its solution is resonating with a growing population of trading professionals.”


The Ten Biggest Tech Failures of the Last Decade

May 13, 2009

Sometimes even the tech giants make big mistakes. And other times companies you think are big successes are actually struggling. 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of the biggest tech failures of the decade.

Although each tech failure is summed up in a short paragraph, the list reveals where these companies went wrong and contemplates what, if anything, could they have done differently.

Will the people that came up with these failures or who worked for them be back in business? In the US tech sector, and Silicon Valley, in particular, you can bet that they already are. Failure — even major blunders like some of these — is part of the entrepreneurial process in America. In fact, it goes with territory on the path to the next start-up and eventually success.

(Read more)


StarPlayit Strikes First Aussie Angel Co-Investment Deal

May 13, 2009

StarPlayit (formerly In the Chair) is part of Australia’s first co-investment deal between state-based Angel Investment groups Melbourne Angels, SA Angels Inc and Gold Coast Angels. The group has collectively invested $400,000 (AUD) into the interactive music learning and entertainment software developed by the Adelaide-based company. As part of the deal, Danny Davis, deal lead from Melbourne Angels will join StarPlayit as VP Strategy and Business Development. Starplayit is run by CEO David Evans and took home the Guy Manson Award for its leading edge technology at the 2005 Gateway to the US Summit.


Travellr Wins Webciety Wildcard Spot

May 11, 2009

TechNation Australia reports that Travellr, the site which aims to give people local-like knowledge of locations all over the world, has won the coveted wildcard spot for Webciety at this week’s CeBIT Sydney.

Travellr will join 11 other Australian start-ups to promote the country’s local tech scene via the May 12-14 conference and the Webciety portal.

Travellr is a 2008 Gateway to the US company with ongoing expansion plans that include the US market.