Should Australia Build a Great Technology Sector?

July 18, 2010

by Viki Forrest, CEO ANZA Technology Network

First, I’d like to go on record and congratulate two recent Australian technology success stories – Atlassian and its co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar and Tapulous co-founder Andrew Lacy. For all who have been following Aussie tech news this month, Atlassian’s closing on a $60 million (USD) round of funding from Accel Partners here in Silicon Valley and Tapulous’ multi-million dollar sale to Disney prove yet again that America looks to Australia’s innovative tech sector for fresh ideas that are well executed.

I didn’t join in on the dust up over at the Delimiter blog, when blogger Renai LeMay chose to call out the Atlassian founders for taking American VC, rather than trying to raise such money in Australia. As the CEO of the ANZA Technology Network it’s our business to link the Australian and American tech communities. Since 2002, when ANZA was founded, that link has been one-way – Aussie innovation toward American dollars and customers.

While ANZA strives to accelerate Australian entrepreneurs getting a foothold in the US market, while reducing costs and risks – it is also our goal to see Australian companies succeed here in the US. It’s not about Australian companies coming to America and creating jobs for Americans. It is about Australian companies taking advantage of the welcoming climate for their innovations in Silicon Valley – and ultimately, to see those who are as successful as Mike and Scott and Andrew to “give back” to Aussie innovative technology by working with – and maybe someday investing in – the next generation of entrepreneurs.

I have met with Mike and I have very recently corresponded with Andrew and I can assure you that both men are eager to work with Aussie entrepreneurs. Not to create a “brain drain”, but rather to help get some top-class Aussie innovation to the world stage. From there anything is possible – including more jobs for Australians in R&D and engineering (these positions tend to stay in Australia when a company expands into the US) and reinvestment back into the community (not necessarily as VC, but into the universities, the incubators, the industry organizations).

So – to answer Renai’s blog post question, “How Can Australia Build a Great Technology Sector?”, by which presumably he means one that is its own ecosystem including funding, I have to ask the question “Why does it need to?”

I need to look no further than a webinar ANZA is hosting tomorrow called “Sizing Up the US Market” and the words on my own website. The US market is 15 times the size of Australia’s. Stop. In a webinar we’ve scheduled for next week on funding – we note that less than 1% of companies – worldwide – ever even receive venture capital. Case closed. Australia needs to continue to do what it does best – innovate. The US market demands it.

Australian Federal Election Called for Saturday 21 August

July 18, 2010

Advance, the global network for global Australians, has put together guidelines for Australians living overseas on voting in the Australian federal election called for Saturday, 21 August.

It is not compulsory to enrol while you are living outside of Australia but if you wish to please go to:

If you would like more information about voting whilst overseas, the AEC has produced Voting Overseas – Frequently Asked Questions.

If you are not sure if you are already enrolled to vote check online at

If you are not enrolled to vote:
• You must complete an enrolment form right now and return it to the AEC by 8pm (local time) Monday, 19 July 2010.

If you are already enrolled to vote but haven’t updated your address details on the electoral roll:
• Complete a new enrolment form and return it to the AEC by 8pm (local time) Thursday 22 July 2010.

For instructions on how to fax or email your enrolment form to the AEC see their latest advice at

For more general information about voting in the election go to the AEC’s website:

ANZA’s 1st Gateway to US Webinar on US Business Opportunities a Hit with Aussie Entrepreneurs

July 13, 2010

Over 100 Australian entrepreneurs and CEOs of growing companies seeking US market commercialization advice attended ANZA’s first Gateway to the US webinar yesterday.

“Expanding Your Business to the US: Myths and Realities” took into consideration that most Australian entrepreneurs have some idea about US market opportunities, but the ability to explore and execute them from across the Pacific is difficult.

Susan Hailey, a veteran Silicon Valley insider with more than 20 years in elite recruitment for some of the Valley’s biggest tech companies – and most promising startups – talked about the culture of networking in Silicon Valley and how newcomers to the area can begin to immerse themselves in the unique Valley ecosystem. The front-page story from the San Jose Mercury News that she referenced, “Buck’s Café serves up venture capital with the granola” can be found here.

David Evans, CEO and Founder of Starplayit, an Adelaide startup now focusing on a US exit strategy from Silicon Valley, talked about the global opportunity the US offers in contrast with being based in Australia. For several years, David “commuted” between Australia and America, but even his presence in the States for considerable periods every few months was not enough for him to build and maintain the connections he will need for his successful exit. When asked how soon an Australian entrepreneur serious about the US market should relocate to America, David advised, “No reason you can’t start tomorrow.”

The webinar is the first in a 3-part series. There is still time to register for the next two free 1-hour webinars:

Companies interested in exploring their US market opportunities in full are encouraged to sign up for ANZA’s Gateway to the US One-Day Introductory Workshops held in Australia, 23 August – 1 September. Early bird pricing is now available. Click here to register.

Aussie entrepreneur moved to the US “because I wanted a career as an entrepreneur”

July 2, 2010

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian entrepreneur Andrew Lacy, co-founder of Tapulous, maker of the Tap Tap Revenge mobile music games for the iPhone and the iPad, has just sold the company to Disney for an undisclosed sum reported to be in the multiple millions USD.

Lacy started the company in Melbourne with Bart Decrem in 2008. As part of the deal, he will join Disney as a senior VP on its mobile app development team. Tap Tap Revenge the most popular game series on the Apple App Store, with over 35 million downloads and over a billion songs played.

Lacy said he “moved to the US because I wanted a career as an entrepreneur.” The move clearly allowed him to grow Tapulous, make the right connections and complete this significant deal. (Read more)