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MICs, NFTs & other worldly news
Cream of the crop. Not only is payments platform Stripe the most valuable private company in the U.S. (last valued at US$95bn), it is now officially Fast Company’s ‘Most Innovative Company in the world.’
Aussie’s own Canva was named #10 ‘MIC’ for “democratizing design—and challenging the unwritten rules around who gets to consider themselves a designer.” As a further honour, Fast Company chose Cofounder and CEO Melanie Perkins to be the face of its 2022 March/April cover.
Stripe was awarded the crown thanks to its Stripe Climate product, which allows customers to direct a fraction of their revenue to help scale emerging carbon removal technologies. With more than 15,000 companies across 40 countries joining Stripe Climate, Fast Company credits Stripe as “kick-starting the carbon-removal industry.” Stripe also topped the CSR list for its carbon removal commitment strategy.
And as all great entrepreneurs know, innovation never sleeps. This week Stripe announced the launch of crypto payments support. The new product suite provides crypto exchanges, wallets, NFT marketplaces and others the ability to process payments for fiat currencies, complete with KYC, identity verification and fraud prevention.
NFTs up 200x. A new study by NonFungible.com and L’Atelier BNP Paribas released on Thursday reports that NFT sales reached US$17.7bn in 2021, up more than 200x from US$82.5m in 2020. The average NFT price in 2021 also rose sharply to $807.52, compared to $49.18 in 2020.
Not surprisingly, everyone wants a piece of the NFT pie. Playboy, Coca-Cola, Time magazine, McD’s and Nike are just a few of the mega brands to dabble in the NFT space. You’ll never guess who’s next… Two Austrian brothers bought LimeWire’s assets last year, and are planning to resurrect it to sell music and art NFTs.
Biden’s crypto directive. The White House released an executive order on Wednesday to explore a digital version of the USD and examine the risks and benefits of crypto. In essence, the order acknowledges that crypto is here to stay. It should eventually lead to much needed certainty around the future regulation of crypto in the U.S..
Timing. Bain Capital Ventures chose to announce the launch of its US$650m homogenous crypto fund… on International Women’s Day:
Cybersec consolidation. Google plans to acquire one of the biggest players in cybersecurity Mandiant (fka FireEye) in a deal worth US$5.4bn. If the deal goes ahead, Mandiant will become part of Google Cloud to help companies investigate and improve digital defenses after major data breaches. The deal will likely be subject to review by the U.S. Justice Department - the same department that is already suing Google for monopolising the online search and search advertising markets.
Four weddings and an IWD pay gap bot
Four weddings. A busy week of M&A in ANZ tech:
Singtel’s NCS is rolling up an Australian IT services empire. It will acquire Australia’s largest privately-owned IT services company, The Dialog Group for $325m. This follows two other recent acquisitions - in late 2021 it snapped up cloud transformation firms Riley and Eighty20. Why? According to Gartner, IT spending in Australia is showing its strongest growth in a decade, projected to grow 6.5% in 2022.
Magazine publisher Are Media is acquiring ecommerce business Hard to Find. Hard to Find is a premium product marketplace that curates designs from small Australian businesses. Are Media plans to use the tech behind Hard to Find across its brands, including Better Homes and Gardens, Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day, New Idea, Marie Claire, Elle and Gourmet Traveller.
Sydney-based contract and supplier management platform Portt has been acquired by UK firm Advanced. Portt manages more than 63,000 private and public sector suppliers across ANZ for more than 9,000 customers, including NSW Health, NSW Education Department and Super Retail Group. With a £254m turnover, Advanced is the UK’s third largest provider of business software and services. The firm has acquired 10 companies in the last two years.
PE firm Liverpool Partners’ Impact Multi Strategy Fund acquired a 50% stake in The Mind Lab, an NZ edtech that offers micro-credentials and online training designed to build skills for a constantly changing world.
The power of SEO. International Women’s Day rolled around again. You may have seen #BreakTheBias plastered everywhere. Believe it or not, this isn’t the official theme set by the UN. In fact, it is a campaign by for-profit agency Aurora Ventures, which owns www.internationalwomensday.com. By maintaining the top SEO ranking for “International Women's Day” and “IWD,” this has become the world’s most visited IWD website - derailing the UN’s fundraising and awareness efforts every year.
This year’s official theme from the UN was #ChangingClimates - equality today for a sustainable tomorrow. The theme recognises that women and girls are leading efforts on climate action, and acknowledges that women and girls are more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men.
Amongst the fluff, some practical tips. Our favourite IWD LinkedIn post came from IntelligenceBank (a Melbourne-based digital asset management & marketing ops scaleup) Cofounder and CEO, Tessa Court: “it’s not rocket science to fix [gender equality]. The critical thing is to not just talk about it on IWD but to lead from the front and do something about it.” Her simple tips on how:
If a colleague can do a job but doesn’t raise their hand for a promotion or new role, lift them up and encourage them to go for it.
Make it easy for new mothers and primary care givers to come back to work - support paid parental leave and flexibility.
Audit your salary packages regularly. Don’t end up on the wrong side of this bot:
Provide your team with unconscious bias training when recruiting.
Vote for politicians that support govt paid parental leave and affordable, quality universal childcare/education. For context, our local Melbourne daycares charge $160/day per child - that’s a mind-blowing $40k/year full time.
Local Raise Round Up
Another week another unicorn!
Immutable raised $280m at a $3.5bn valuation led by Singaporean state investment firm Temasek. Immutable started life as a blockchain-based esports company - its flagship games Gods Unchained and Guild of Guardians are two of the world’s largest blockchain games. It has since expanded to develop a scalable platform for trading NFTs used by the likes of GameStop, TikTok and Opensea.
Immutable has also snapped up four new major hires: AirTree Partner Gillian Findlay is now COO, former Lonely Planet exec John Boris is Chief Growth Officer, ex-Riot Games Justin Hulog is Chief Studio Officer, and ex-Culture Amp Katherine Rau is Chief People Officer.
ArchiPro raised NZ$35m from Tiger, Icehouse and Liger Trading. ArchiPro is a marketplace connecting home builders with products and professionals.
CIMET raised $26.6m from iSelect for its white-label energy and telco comparison product. CIMET will use the funds to expand into more verticals including credit cards, loans and insurance.
FourthRev raised $11.2m led by Paris-based edtech impact fund, Educapital. FourthRev offers digital skills courses and a Career Accelerators offering, working with LSE, Tableau, GitHub, Microsoft and others to ensure students are equipped with skills and capabilities sought by employers.
Deep Blue Company raised $10m led by CVC Emerging Companies Fund for its online conveyancing solution.
Canibuild raised $8m led by EVP. Canibuild helps builders assess a site’s suitability for construction in real time, from houses to sheds, granny flats and pools.
PredictiveHire raised $7m. The HR tech startup uses machine learning, natural language processing and personality theory to help companies interview and hire faster. Woolworths’ head of advisory and talent acquisition services, Keri Foti, said PredictiveHire saved them an estimated 5,000 recruitment hours in its first week of automated interviews.
Clean Crop Technologies raised $6m led by ReGen Ventures, Trailhead Capital, and the MassMutual Catalyst Fund. Clean Crop Technologies is translating groundbreaking research on ways to reduce molds, toxins, and pests into commercial scale services for the global grain and nut sectors.
Flowingly raised NZ$4.5m so people without coding or IT experience can map, customise and automate complex workflow processes.
Cydarm raised $3m led by InterValley Ventures for its cybersecurity incident response platform.
Cake raised US$2.2m from Rampersand, Jason Calacanis and others. Over 2,000 startups and companies use Cake to manage their cap tables, employee share/option schemes and capital raises.
Related: ESOP 101 by Sydney-based VC Right Click Capital’s Benjamin Chong.
SpaceDraft raised $2.7m to help people visually understand how objects, space and time can interact. Founder Lucy Cooke says the tech was designed for film production, but could be applied to a raft of use cases including gaming production, wedding planning and mining site coordination.
Super Fierce raised $1.5m and launched its super recommendation platform to the public. Founder Trenna Probert explains the product is aimed at helping women better grow their super:
“our calculations suggest the median super balance at retirement for women is 50% lower than for men, and we believe this is unacceptable.”
Super Fierce has also established the Fierce Impact foundation, with the goal of donating $100m to disenfranchised Australian women ($100 is donated for each person that switches via Super Fierce).
Book An Artist raised $1m led by Black Sheep Capital for its artist marketplace.
Altered State Machine raised a seed round from The Chernin Group, Warner Music Group, Coinbase Ventures, AirTree, Nas and others. Built in Auckland, the ASM platform powers the creation and training of AI-driven NFTs known as Agents, which are interoperable across the metaverse.
Andi Health raised $600k to build “the world’s first human health coach in your pocket.”
Celeb goss corner
Grimes & Musk had another baby, prompting one Tweeterer to ask this fair question:
That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed it.
Bex, Gavin and the team at Ignition Lane
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