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In the Media: Australian Financial Review Chanticleer on the JJC Bradfield Lecture

Australian Financial Review, Chanticleer by Tony Boyd, 20/10/2014

Google's eye on garages

When Google's top engineer in Australia, Alan Noble, was this week asked what was the biggest threat to Google, his rapid-fire answer was: 'Two people in a garage." 

He said it was a realistic possibility that those two people could well be working in a garage in Australia right now. Noble is optimistic about the future of Australia's tech economy because of the momentum that already exists and the willingness of the federal government to give start-ups a leg up.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced reform to the taxation law for share options, which will allow private companies to issue options and not have them taxed until the time of being exercised.

That allows fast-growing small companies to expand without using precious cash flow. Noble's optimism about Australia's new generation of entrepreneurs is warranted, based on anecdotal evidence. 

A recent series of lunches at the offices of investment firm BBY have put the spotlight on a fantastic range of companies. The minimum criteria for selection has been the need to have truly disruptive technology and not just something imported from the US. 

BBY lunch guests have included representatives from Airtasker, Brainchip, Catapult Sports, Car Next Door, Chiron, Digiviser, Digital BTC, Divvy Parking, Expert360, Free Is Better, GoCatch, GoFar, Hills Industries, InSn'tchu, Jayride, LawPath, Local Fixer, Local Measure, Olio Wearables, OneShift, OpenLearning, Owilr, Posse, Safesite, Snaploader, SocietyOne, WattCost and Zed Technologies. 

Next on the guest list are Chiron, Farmbot, Lime Rocket, Mainline, UXC Red Rock, Mumba Cloud, Chatty Kidz, Self Wealth, Maestrano and Palantir. The BBY wish list for future lunches organised by banker Nick Dacres-Mannings includes Hi Pages, Mega, Nimble, Oomph, Weteachme, Bizcover, Ingogo, eCal, Stipe, Momentum Cloud, Chuffed, Canva, Pocketbook and Chimp Change. 

The potential of two people in a garage to have a huge impact on the local economy can be seen at Atlassian. This software company was founded in 2002 in the Sydney bedrooms of Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes. They now employ 1000 people around the world, including 500 in Sydney, and their company is valued at $3.5 billion after a transaction earlier this year. 

Farquhar had some sage advice for other entrepreneurs and politicians when he delivered the 2014 JJC Bradfield Lecture in Sydney at the invitation of parliamentary secretary to the minister for communications, Paul Fletcher. 

The essence of the speech is that every company in Australia is a software company.