Ignition Lane’s Weekly Wrap: Tech’s climate battle, another week of big pay rises, will ratings fall?

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Welcome to ignition track’s Weekly Wrap, where they break through the noise to bring you their favorite insights from the tech and startup world.

Ignition Lane works with ambitious executives to apply the startup mentality to their technology, product and commercialization problems.

This wrap is going out free for subscribers every Saturday. Don’t forget that you can catch Gavin Appel covering the week on the Startup Daily Show Ausbiz every Monday at 2 p.m. If you miss it, you can do it Find out about the shows of the week here.

Here is her weekly recap.

Tech’s battle to save the climate is heating up

MCB’s coal patrol. Australian tech billionaires and big supporters of the green economy, Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes, have taken their money into their hands trying to reduce Australia’s reliance on coal.

Along with Canadian investment firm Brookfield, the couple’s investment arm Grok Ventures made a takeover game for one of Australia’s biggest polluters – energy giant AGL. The $8 billion offer represented a 4.7% premium to the stock’s closing price the previous day and included a proposal to spend $20 billion to transition AGL to renewable energy and shut down its coal-fired power plants by 2030. AGL and Scomo however have fired the plan as “unrealistic”.

Grok also behaved “sensibly”. $200 million stake in Infradebt – a major financier of renewable energy and battery storage. Infradebt offers a new $35 million credit facility for the development of Genex’s Bouldercombe battery project in Queensland. This project includes a world-first revenue-sharing agreement with Telsa, which will supply and operate the large battery system, while Genex receives guaranteed revenue.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of activity on the green tech raising front this week as well:

  • Era VC Raised $30 million (AUD 42 million) to invest in climate technology. Aera is also launching an investment DAO (Distributed Autonomous Organization) called Aera Force, with 2,000 Ethereum (around $6 million) for pre-seed blockchain projects working on climate and carbon-related issues.
  • Zoomo raised $20 million, extending its $60 million debt/equity round from November. Zoomo, which operates in 16 cities across North America, APAC and Europe, offers e-bike subscriptions for gig workers and e-bike fleets for enterprise customers like Domino’s.
  • Ark Energy Raised $2.6 million to help renewable energy companies generate better returns by mining bitcoin when there is oversupply on the power grid.
  • Cecil Raised $1.6 million managed by Tenacious Ventures. Cecil simplifies the process of managing and investing in natural assets that incentivize decarbonization and ecosystem preservation.
  • Pursue Raised $1.5 million to help SMEs track and manage their carbon emissions.

Births, Death & Marriages in ANZ tech

🐣 births

Unified AI CSIRO’s new National AI Center has named ex-Microsoft AI gun Stela Solar as its first director. Solar’s first priority is to unite the Australian AI industry by breaking down the divides between different AI fields and improving our ability to convert world-leading AI research into commercial opportunities.

More resources for Web3. Sydney-based VC King River Capital is launching a new digital asset fund to invest in Web3 opportunities (crypto, NTF, etc.). It has so far raised $50 million from a target of $150 million.

Aussie capital for the startup nation. Serial investor Josh Liberman (former Seek and Canva backer) is launching a new $140 million VC fund to give Australian investors access to the Israeli startup scene.

Starting Vic. Victoria’s startup agency LaunchVic made three big announcements:

  • The new 30×30 program aims for 30 Victorian scale-ups to achieve unicorn status by 2030. Rather than a program solely focused on founders, 30×30 provides executive education and mentoring for HR, operations and finance leaders, and other startup support. Applications are now open.
  • V-Ignite (led by Neil Stanford and Brighid Pappin) has been appointed fund manager for the Victorian Startup Capital Fund. V-Ignite will raise at least $60 million from investors to match the cornerstone government investment managed by LaunchVic.
  • Congratulations to all winners of the inaugural Governor of Victoria Startup Awards including Linktree (Scaleup of the Year), Amber Electric and Seer Medical (Startups of the Year) and Currus Biologics (Best Newcomer).

💀 deaths

Death to underpaid gig work. in the a win for gig economy workers, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission ruled that Amazon Flex drivers (who courier parcels using their own vehicles) must be paid a minimum hourly rate. The rate will be phased in, starting at $27.83/hr on March 1st and increasing to $37.80/hr by July 1st, 2025. Amazon’s growth in Australia is booming – Revenue in 2021 grew 57% to $1.75 billion.

Crowdfunded Super Breakdown. GigSuper, a super fund targeting self-employed/gig workers, collapsed in December after giving away $2.7 million to unsecured creditors and $200,000 to employees. Media reports this week shed details of questionable behavior:

[it] launched a crowdfunding capital raise two weeks after his trustee warned he would close the fund within months, then violated the privacy of all its members when he announced on Christmas Eve that he had collapsed.

🤝 marriages

Maropost loves Australian retail technology. Canadian e-commerce and multi-channel marketing platform Maropost has acquired Retail Express for $55 million. Retail Express is a cloud-based retail management and point-of-sale system that powers 5,000+ retailers. This is Maropost’s second most recent acquisition in Australia — the company bought back-end e-commerce management platform Neto for $60 million in March.

PEXA’s first strategic investment. Online real estate listing network PEXA acquires a 38% stake in Landchecker, which provides real estate information and data.

Round up local increase

Scalapay raised $692 million at a valuation of more than $1 billion “in all currencies,” co-led by Tencent and Willoughby Capital. European-focused BNPL was founded in Wollongong in 2019 – making it one of the fastest Australian startups to achieve official (USD) unicorn status.

OCR Labs raised $42 million (US$30 million) for its digital identity verification solution, which helps businesses comply with AML/KYC regulations using technologies like character recognition, face matching, and video fraud assessment.

image wealth announced it had raised $14 million at the end of 2021. PictureWealth uses technology to give clients a comprehensive picture of their total wealth and offers access to financial specialists when needed.

cybel raised US$13.8 million (US$10 million), led by Blackbird. Cyble analyzes dark and surface webs in real time to determine if a company’s credentials are being exposed online. The number of corporate passwords leaked on the dark web has increased by 429% since March 2021!

Lumi raising another $10 million just two months after completing a $20 million round. Lumi is a technology-led small business lender that can process loan applications in hours.

tiik Raised $5.2 million. Tiik uses blockchain technologies to allow users to transfer funds directly from a bank account into DeFi products.

upwards raised $6.6 million (US$4 million) led by Counterpart Ventures (the San Francisco VC’s first Australian investment). Upflowy’s no-code platform helps optimize web experiences by offering drag-and-drop tools for A/B testing and personalization across web and mobile apps.

Linkby $5 million raised led by Our Innovation Fund. Linkby enables brands to pay for content from selected publishers on a cost-per-click basis.

Fortiro Raised $3.5 million from our innovation fund. Fortiro was spun off from PwC by three of its directors and acquired Protect, PwC’s bank fraud detection product. The product helps banks detect fraud in loan document applications, for example by detecting when people understate their spending.

liquorice Raised $1.8M to ‘End IT Tickets Forever’. Hooray. Licorice’s next-generation IT ticketing solution matches IT requests with the right engineers, calculates the time required for each task and allows customers to choose appointment times that work for them.

inspirational

Blakthumb raised $825,000 led by Tidal Ventures for its end-to-end operations solution specifically designed for cannabis and indoor food production.

knowledge nuggets

On vertical SaaS: David Yuan and the team at Tidemark VC launched the Vertical SaaS Knowledge Project starting with a great introductory text how to approach growth

For founders currently raising:

Closing Words of Wisdom from the only Steve Jobs:

That’s a wrap! We hope that you liked it.

Bex, Gavin and the team at Ignition Lane

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