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BarCamp Comes to Sydney


Yoick is going to be sponsoring the first Sydney BarCamp, which is taking place March 3-4.

Get involved: these unconferences can be great fun and an excellent networking experience.

Google Goes Walkabout


If you’re not paying attention the recently launched Google Maps Australia might have you on walkabout before you know it. Our friends at the Sydney Morning Herald have picked up some quirks in the beta of this fully functional mapping and search service.

When you plug in a point to point direction request you’d better check on the veracity of the data their system returns. It appears to be a quirk in the underlying data being accessed from MapData Sciences and in true Google fashion it’ll be fixed before you have time to Digg this post.

Thanks to Techcrunch for pointing this out.

Australians Making a Difference


It’s Australia Day – a time to reflect on Australians making a difference, Australians delivering positive impact to the world.

This evening, Pacific Standard Time, Steve Killelea will be addressing NextNow, a select group of futurists based in Silicon Valley. Steve will be talking about the World Peace Index – a broad-based initiative he is leading to create and maintain a high profile index that will portray the behavioral ranking of nations for peace. 

We don’t want to steal Steve’s thunder, as the World Peace Index will be launched in Q2 07, but we want to acknowledge that as one of the nation’s most successful entrepreneurs, we salute his latest efforts.

The Sydney Morning Herald gave a synopsis on Steve last year – you can read about him here.


Picture courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald

Australians Get Second Life


We caught up with David Holloway today. He runs the first, and only, Australian news site devoted to Second Life.

According to David as many as 18,000 Australians have registered on SL, with around 10% being active residents of the virtual world. While he did point out that these numbers are yet to be substantiated by SL’s creator, Linden Labs, this does represent a healthy interest from downunder.

We totally agree with David’s views that something like SL is likely to change the Internet as significantly as web browsers did in the early 90’s. The 360-degree virtual world experience makes online interaction just that little bit more personal and provides a range of educational and social opportunities.

Another Australian, Jana Gillespie, is the first Australian registered SL developer and she specialises in creating business presences for corporations within SL. She says that such virtual worlds as SL represent another option for businesses to interact with their customers – people recognise the many possibilities a platform can offer….a new way to market, to advertise and a new distribution channel for companies. A future 3D internet.

There are a number of Australian presences in Second Life. The Australian Film, Television and Radio School has had a presence for a while, the ABC is building an island at the moment and Telstra has apparently bought a few islands.

UPDATE: The Sydney Morning Herald has an article covering activities by Australians in SL.

Venture from Australia to the US with Lightspeed


Jeremy Liew is a Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, a US-based early stage VC firm currently on its seventh fund and with $1.3 billion under management.

He is also an Australian, having read for a BA/BSc (Hons) at the Australian National University, and was back in the country recently.

He has posted his thoughts regarding the Australian venture industry and entrepreneurial ecosystem on the LSVP blog. The first point he makes is that, comparative to the US, the Australia venture industry is but a pup. As I mentioned above, Lightspeed Ventures is onto their seventh fund and people like Tim Draper , over at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, are third generation VCs. By comparison, Australian venture firms are mostly only on their second, or at most, third fund.

Why does this matter you may ask? Firstly, it comes down to the experience of the team and their ability to assist ventures succeed. The more experienced a VC is, the more he or she can add value over and above the cash they provide.

Secondly, for the folk investing into VC funds (called limited partners), the more experience a  VC partnership has collectively, goes a long way towards determining their attractiveness for further funding. In addition these LPs will look at the success of the firm in getting return on investment from their portfolio of investee companies.

Jeremy also notes that the consensus of opinion seemed to be that the Israeli model of Venture was the way to go. I agree with his prognosis, particularly the point that the size of the Australian market forces us to head offshore with, at least, the customer facing components. I know of a number of Australian start ups that have done just that in the past few months alone – some have done so after initially raising venture funding in Australia and then seeking their subsequent funding in the US, and others have gone straight over and raised their funding in Silicon Valley.

I question whether there isn’t a better way, though. A uniquely Aussie way of building successful, global brands. Given our proximity to massive markets in Asia, do we need to be US-centric at all -or is their an expanded axis we should tilt around? I’ve called this the S-axis, and at its simplest it comprises a focus on Sydney, Silicon Valley AND Shanghai.

Jeremy notes that venture guys generally invest close to home (driving to an investee company board meeting beats flying there, believe me I know :), but that if there’s a link to a geographic area, due to say…being an expat, then this flattens the earth and there is a possibility the connection will lead to portfolio companies being sourced from that area.

It is great to hear of Jeremy’s interest as an expat Aussie in investing downunder – As an Aussie, I would LOVE to be able to fund promising Australian startups and help them make the jump to the US.

I agree with his prognosis that over time we will hopefully have more expats in positions where they can help Aussie startups make the jump, we will see more Australian founded companies make it big on the world stage. This would be good for Australia, good for the founders, good for Aussie VCs and good for US VCs with ties to Australia.


Scouting for beta testers


Scouta, a startup still in stealth mode, is opening up for beta testers.

Founded by Richard Giles, producer of The Gadget Show and Graeme Sutherland, Scouta is about making it easy to discover relevant online video and audio.

We’ll bring you more details as they move out of stealth, but for now sign up as a beta tester on their site and have some fun.