Hand holding an eye badge

Australian Startups Pave the Way

Date Published:
May 23, 2019

Today 52 Australian-founder companies started since 2011 represent a combined EV of more than $30B.

Note: This post is adapted from this Tweetstorm

In 2012, the information memorandum for @BlackbirdVC’s first fund included this line:

“We believe that over the next five years a new group of world-class Internet and software companies will be formed in Australia.”

Let me quantify just how accurate that prediction was.

Today, 52 companies founded by Australians since 2011 are worth more than $100M AUD. Fourteen companies are worth more than $500M.

Six — Afterpay, Airwallex, Canva, ZipMoney, Zoox, and 10X Genomics — are worth more than $1B.

Australia is currently producing a unicorn a year.

2011: @Canva

2012: @10xGenomics

2013: @Zipmoney

2014: @Zoox & @Afterpay

2015: @Airwallex

Looking just at the top 52 companies, they represent a combined EV of more than $30B and the creation of 10,000 new jobs since 2011.

Fintech is a clear strength of #startupaus. More than $12B of EV has been created by Aussie fintech startups since 2011. Fintechs make up 29% of the companies on the list.

SaaS is the other Aussie strength (thanks to @mcannonbrookes & @scottfarkas for paving the way).

The SaaS companies on the list have created $6.5B of EV. They make up 35% of the list. @BlackbirdVC is proud to be an investor in 6 of the top 7.

The D2C companies on the list have created $3.9B of EV. They make up 35% of the list. Just three of the 52 companies are bootstrapped. And all three of them are D2C.

The great Aussie VC firm of the last generation was Accel (Atlassian, Campaign Monitor, OFX, Big Commerce). Encouragingly, the investor community here has activated, and 64% of companies on the list have at least one Aussie VC on the cap table.

Geographically, 75% of the companies are headquartered in Australia.

The spread:

  • 40% Sydney
  • 20% Melbourne
  • 17% San Francisco

Notably, 10% are Brisbane-based.

15% of the companies have a woman on the founding team.The average EV of companies without a woman on the founding team (n=44) is $500M.

The average EV of companies with a woman on the founding team (n=8) is $900M.

Some quick comments:

  • Private companies are private. It’s a founder’s right to publicly reveal their valuations, not mine. So I can’t/won’t share the list.
  • The window of opportunity for the current crop of Aussie VCs to have made early stage investments in this generation of Aussie startups begins around 2011. Blackbird announced its first fund in 2013 ($30M). I acknowledge this time window is somewhat arbitrary.
  • This is just a list of company valuations. All the meaty stuff — revenue, growth rates, and ownership — isn’t included in the analysis.

Finally, remember that valuations are not the important thing.

The important thing is ambitious, world-class founders solving real problems for customers, and generating real, growing revenues.

Valuations will fluctuate, wonderful businesses will persist.

As I look down the list of companies, I am filled with pride and optimism for the future that Australian founders are building.

We should all be grateful to them.