AirMail — February 2019 Edition

Feb 14 · 6 min read

Our update of what we’ve seen in tech across Australia and New Zealand this month. And a few things we find interesting… SUBSCRIBE OR FWD TO A FRIEND

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The big news 🔊

📃 The Australian Government is placing a chokehold on the tech industry via the “anti-encryption” bill — alongside StartupAUS, Scott Farquhar and other key players in the tech ecosystem, we’ve signed a letter to the Federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security calling for the bill’s repeal and making four recommendations. Got a startup or tech company? Add your name here to support it

🌎 Skilled immigration is critical to the success of a startup ecosystem… The Government’s new Global Talent Scheme pilot could be a game-changer for startups looking to attract global talent to 🇦🇺. It’s now up and running so we’ve shared what it’s all about and how to apply

🏦 The Banking Royal Commission report was released last week. There’s a lot to unpack here and we’ll have more to say on it. For now, we’re considering the implications (and opportunities for startups!) in mortgage broking, super and the ongoing disaggregation of the banking stack

FYI — The open banking regime won’t be kicking off in July as planned

🤝 There was a wave of M&A in the sector (which is great to see!):

  1. Domain acquired CommercialView, a commercial property digital listings platform, for A$17.2m
  2. Campaign Monitor acquired Sailthru and Liveclicker, two marketing platforms, and launched overarching brand CM Group
  3. Parkable, a kiwi company that helps drivers to find and pay for parking spots, acquired Brisbane-based Park Genie
  4. PE funds also acquired two major listed tech assets — KKR / MYOB and Apax / Trade Me

🏦 Xinja is now a bank. Volt is now a bank — competition in the digital bank space is heating up

💰 More great funding possibilities for startups: 🔊 Westpac wants to increase their debt funding to established startups, Investec has closed a $45m fund to invest in pre-profit “emerging” companies, Equity Venture Partners have just raised a new $35m fund, and if you’re in Adelaide… a new $28m research, commercialisation and startup fund for new enterprises based in SA is in the works. Looking forward to co-investing with our friends at Investec and EVP

👩 30% of directors of ASX200 companies are women (up from 20% in 2015) — we’ve now leapfrogged the UK, US and Canada in terms of female representation 👏… but still a way to go

👨‍🔬 Andrew Stevens is the new Innovation and Science Australia chairman

🇮🇱 Split-it, an Israeli buy now pay later service, completed the first listing for 2019 on the ASX. Why would an Israeli company choose the ASX, we wonder…

😉PS. We always knew Graydon Carter was a big fan of our newsletter moniker

Topics that caught our eye 👀

Andrew Chen’s 2018 essay collection is a great read — it covers growth metrics, marketplaces, viral growth in the enterprise, and loads more

An excellent overview on the state of AI and Medicine

The World Economic Forum on alternative proteins

A study on the psychology of extremism — the strongest opponents of genetically modified foods “know the least but think they know the most”

European venture update shows similar trends to the US:

  • Fewer deals, but higher valuations
  • Fewer funds raised, but larger funds raised
  • Fewer exits, but larger exits when they happen

Mandatory reading for anyone interested in the history (and the future) of open source software

CEO of Novartis on the impact of data science in their business

Boeing’s flying car has taken off

In a series of test matches, AlphaStar decisively beat Team Liquid’s Grzegorz “MaNa” Komincz, one of the world’s strongest professional StarCraft players 5–0

Alzheimer’s linked to gum disease — clean your teeth, peeps 😁

Josh Wolfe is great, when he’s not ranting about Tesla

There’s talk of digital asset marketplaces upending crypto hype

Marshmello plays an in-game concert in Fortnite to 10 million raging teenagers

Major funding rounds 💰

Baraja, a LIDAR startup, raised $45m from Blackbird, Main Sequence and Sequoia

HumanForce, a workforce management company, raised $22m from Accel-KKR

Sendle, a delivery service for SMEs, raised $20m from Federation

Academy Xi, an Australia based virtual reality edtech startup, raised $3m in Series B funding

Kami, a document annotation app, raised $1.5m from Right Click Capital

Curious Thing, a virtual interviewer, raised $1.5m from Reinventure and Qualgro

What’s on? 📅

20 Feb (Sydney)The Future of Finance: John’s moderating a panel discussion with some folks from Zuper, Beem IT, and Stake at General Assembly

7 Mar (Sydney)AVCJ Annual PE and VC Forum Craig’s on a panel talking about “Venture capital: Putting (and keeping) Australia on the map”

18 Mar (Melbourne)Wade Institute’s VC Catalyst: James’s leading some discussions on the founder X factor, and how to prepare for your first meeting with investors. Any Melbourne founders who’d like to catch up while we’re in town, please get in touch!

Love for the AirTree Fam ❤️

Nura revealed a preview of their second product, the nuraloop, at CES 2019 and were awarded the Innovation Award Honoree Prize. Also the legendary Stevie Wonder loved their sound!

Prospa made it on to CB Insights Fintech 250 — a list of the top Fintech startups in 2018

Mel from Canva on Guy Raz’s “How I Built This” podcast — where he interviews some of the top tech entrepreneurs around the world. Like us, the AFR believes Canva could be the next global tech giant to come out of Australia. Mel, what a boss!

Since they were founded in 2013, Prospa has contributed $3.65bn to Australian GDP, resulting in 52,000 jobs, and more than 1 in 4 businesses surveyed “were unsure if they would still exist without Prospa’s lending” 👏 Awesome work Beau, Greg and team!

Daniel talks to John McDuling, the Technology Writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, about job disruption and the steps Australia needs to take to become an innovative economy and ensure a future for our kids 🇦🇺

The services sector in Australia is shedding staff, Bridget from Expert360 explains why the ability to flex workforces to suit demand will likely become a key initiative for executive leaders in 2019

Secure Code Warrior had a big year in 2018

$1bn was invested in Aussie companies by VCs in 2018. Daniel reflects on where the Aussie venture capital industry could be in 5 years time… and what we need to do help us get there

What we’ve been reading and listening to

🎧 FYI — For Your InnovationIntellectual discussion on recent developments across disruptive innovation (we enjoyed the recent episode with Brett Winton)

📘 Brief Answers to the Big QuestionsSteven Hawking’s new book explains time travel, black-holes, if there is a god, and how it all began…

High profile roles in #startupaus 🇦🇺


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Feedback always welcome via @airtreevc or

For past editions of AirMail: December, November, October, September, July and June.


An venture capital fund in Aus and NZ. Working for gamechangers. First round. Multiple rounds.


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We’re an Australian venture capital fund that works for founders that are changing the game. We invest in the first round, for multiple rounds.



An venture capital fund in Aus and NZ. Working for gamechangers. First round. Multiple rounds.

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