Aussie Tech - gap between capability and capacity

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drllau

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Jul 23, 2019, 7:37:09 PM7/23/19
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>But maybe more usefully, here is a question we really should be asking, and which this forum used to answer. What’s lacking in the Australian tech industry these days?

Apart from all the standard whinges about clueless moneymen and myoptic gov, I'd say that too many capable people are working in industry (stable career path) so have no time to do interesting side projects which could morph into new businesses. Given current tax policies and exit outcomes, they'd rather stay in their nice comfy day job than take the plunge. I refer to San Diego whose defense sector got downsided after the US won Cold War and then pivoted to biotech.

whilst at other end, the capacity (spare time, energy, etc) has been overly concentrated on Y-combo style accelerators which are incredibly raw in terms of intake ... ignorance can be fixed but stupidity is forever in asking Australians to follow a US model without a) appropriate capital formation b) shortage of high quality mentors and c) more tech follower adoption/adaption rather than originating/disruptive leader (in terms of technical risk .... asking for prototypes and traction before looksee).

Let's compare with China, JackMa & AliBaba started off in a few apartments in Hangzhou, DJE was a kid (relatively speaking) that took the plunge to visit Shenzhen, Xiaomei started off doing shanzai manufacturing of short-run phones. They played to their strengths whereas IMHO australia emerging tech is not. The very fact of relative lack of capital means that they are customer & cashflow focused and due to cost structure wins the marathon race acquiring western tech along the way.

Geoff Langdale

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Jul 24, 2019, 12:15:01 AM7/24/19
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I think you're right about the industry career path stuff. The biggest things that pull tech talent away from Australian startups (I confess my view is a bit Sydney-centric):

1) Some disproportionately big and compelling potential employers who continue to hoover up a lot of the talent (Google Sydney, AWS, Atlassian spring to mind)
2) Outsized potential compensation from the financial sector
3) The prospect of jumping on a plane and doing a startup in SF or the valley instead

My 2 cents is that the tech talent is here but it's not very interested (collectively) in working on startups. Abysmal cost of living in Sydney isn't helping...

You'll have to unpack your points a bit more - what do you meant about "overly concentrated on Y-combo style accelerators which are incredibly raw in terms of intake"? 

I think comparing with China is unhelpful. They have an enormous domestic market, low labour costs and a great deal of protection/governmental interference with foreign competitors. The SV scene is a bad enough comparator for Australia, but China is even less appropriate. I think we would be best served by looking at small-to-midscale countries/regions that have done well in niches and have similar economic development (Israel, "Silicon Fen" around Cambridge, etc). Even then it might be better to not immediately slide off into pontificating about other countries full stop. To quote President Johnson, "Making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg. It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else."

Geoff.

Rai

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Jul 24, 2019, 2:06:38 AM7/24/19
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I haven’t seen anything from anyone posting about talent who actually gets the challenges faced by them. Us. 

Maybe one day the ecosystem will care enough and actually dig into what startup talent goes through in Australia. Run a nationwide startup talent survey *GASP*

10 years into this forum and all I see is generalisations and assumptions. All the while having to put up with the never-ending lament that there isn’t talent in Aust, or all we want is cushy corp jobs. 

Wanna resurrect the forum? Start with the language and practice of inclusion. The lack of which turned a majority of previously active people off. 

Rai

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Geoff Langdale

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Jul 24, 2019, 10:05:01 PM7/24/19
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It's possible that all of us have different experiences with what it's like to be "tech talent" (or hire "tech talent", or develop it, etc). Maybe my window into what constitutes "tech talent" is different to yours, and I have different sorts of tech startups in mind?

Instead of assuming that everyone is talking about people exactly like you and going on a tirade about that, why don't you explain your concerns (to which you devote a whole 6 words - "the language and practice of inclusion" - and only the service of a assertion about what drained the life out of the forum)? 

Geoff.

On Wednesday, 24 July 2019 16:06:38 UTC+10, dekrazee1 wrote:
I haven’t seen anything from anyone posting about talent who actually gets the challenges faced by them. Us. 

Maybe one day the ecosystem will care enough and actually dig into what startup talent goes through in Australia. Run a nationwide startup talent survey *GASP*

10 years into this forum and all I see is generalisations and assumptions. All the while having to put up with the never-ending lament that there isn’t talent in Aust, or all we want is cushy corp jobs. 

Wanna resurrect the forum? Start with the language and practice of inclusion. The lack of which turned a majority of previously active people off. 

Rai
On Wed, 24 Jul 2019 at 2:15 pm, Geoff Langdale <geoff....@gmail.com> wrote:
I think you're right about the industry career path stuff. The biggest things that pull tech talent away from Australian startups (I confess my view is a bit Sydney-centric):

1) Some disproportionately big and compelling potential employers who continue to hoover up a lot of the talent (Google Sydney, AWS, Atlassian spring to mind)
2) Outsized potential compensation from the financial sector
3) The prospect of jumping on a plane and doing a startup in SF or the valley instead

My 2 cents is that the tech talent is here but it's not very interested (collectively) in working on startups. Abysmal cost of living in Sydney isn't helping...

You'll have to unpack your points a bit more - what do you meant about "overly concentrated on Y-combo style accelerators which are incredibly raw in terms of intake"? 

I think comparing with China is unhelpful. They have an enormous domestic market, low labour costs and a great deal of protection/governmental interference with foreign competitors. The SV scene is a bad enough comparator for Australia, but China is even less appropriate. I think we would be best served by looking at small-to-midscale countries/regions that have done well in niches and have similar economic development (Israel, "Silicon Fen" around Cambridge, etc). Even then it might be better to not immediately slide off into pontificating about other countries full stop. To quote President Johnson, "Making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg. It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else."

Geoff.

On Wednesday, 24 July 2019 09:37:09 UTC+10, drllau wrote:
>But maybe more usefully, here is a question we really should be asking, and which this forum used to answer. What’s lacking in the Australian tech industry these days?

Apart from all the standard whinges about clueless moneymen and myoptic gov, I'd say that too many capable people are working in industry (stable career path) so have no time to do interesting side projects which could morph into new businesses. Given current tax policies and exit outcomes, they'd rather stay in their nice comfy day job than take the plunge. I refer to San Diego whose defense sector got downsided after the US won Cold War and then pivoted to biotech.

whilst at other end, the capacity (spare time, energy, etc) has been overly concentrated on Y-combo style accelerators which are incredibly raw in terms of intake ... ignorance can be fixed but stupidity is forever in asking Australians to follow a US model without a) appropriate capital formation b) shortage of high quality mentors and c) more tech follower adoption/adaption rather than originating/disruptive leader (in terms of technical risk .... asking for prototypes and traction before looksee).

Let's compare with China, JackMa & AliBaba started off in a few apartments in Hangzhou, DJE was a kid (relatively speaking) that took the plunge to visit Shenzhen, Xiaomei started off doing shanzai manufacturing of short-run phones. They played to their strengths whereas IMHO australia emerging tech is not. The very fact of relative lack of capital means that they are customer & cashflow focused and due to cost structure wins the marathon race acquiring western tech along the way.

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drllau

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Aug 1, 2019, 12:19:15 AM8/1/19
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Geoff is right ... the only reason I keep pontificating here is that I (and many others) have walked the walk not just talk the talk We've seen the ups and downs and even the ugly and want to lend a helping hand or advice.

I left a nice ivory tower position in Brissie to go into freelance IP law ... only to lose all my savings/investments during global financial crisis. Having barely saved nyself from dropping out of the school of hard knocks, I'd like Australians to be more forward thinking .... perhaps you think China is bad comparison but I'm trying to encourage more gung-ho attitude ... especially economic migrants ... I met a maritus guy who's linux techie ... who now is working as cleaner because he can't find a position (also I suspect his work visa might be constrained but I'm not going to ask). So I'm now spend a spare hour trying to mentor him. Another is a women with masters in organisational communications (god knows whole govt depts could use her expertise) but that degree is not being recognised here so I'm trying to get here into a industry training regime. These people are NOT sitting around waiting for a white fella to notice they're not being included.

The australian motto is "Fair Go" .... let's start with just "Have a Go".

drllau

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Aug 1, 2019, 12:28:20 AM8/1/19
to Silicon Beach Australia
> turned a majority of previously active people off
is this an attribution error? Active members in 90s/noughties either successful enough they have the time to listen and help out, or are still head-down-tail up beavering away on their firms or if failed, then maybe probably want nothing to do with SBA. The point about the drinks and networking was in the early days, the people who GOT it (e-Commerce in 90s, read-write-web in noughties, current sharing economy and platform plays early this decade) were thin on the ground so people were reaching out to validate their thinking and perhaps find compatible co-founders. Now tech channels (slack, githubs, etc) are more specialised and every academic institution is throwing money at incubators the thirst for being the maverick has declined (and alas the nail that sticks out gets hammered)

so I hope you forgive us old geezers for contemplating how to stoke the fires of local technopreneurship again, if only to live vicariously.

On Wednesday, 24 July 2019 14:06:38 UTC+8, dekrazee1 wrote:
I haven’t seen anything from anyone posting about talent who actually gets the challenges faced by them. Us. 

Maybe one day the ecosystem will care enough and actually dig into what startup talent goes through in Australia. Run a nationwide startup talent survey *GASP*

10 years into this forum and all I see is generalisations and assumptions. All the while having to put up with the never-ending lament that there isn’t talent in Aust, or all we want is cushy corp jobs. 

Wanna resurrect the forum? Start with the language and practice of inclusion. The lack of which turned a majority of previously active people off. 

Rai
On Wed, 24 Jul 2019 at 2:15 pm, Geoff Langdale <geoff....@gmail.com> wrote:
I think you're right about the industry career path stuff. The biggest things that pull tech talent away from Australian startups (I confess my view is a bit Sydney-centric):

1) Some disproportionately big and compelling potential employers who continue to hoover up a lot of the talent (Google Sydney, AWS, Atlassian spring to mind)
2) Outsized potential compensation from the financial sector
3) The prospect of jumping on a plane and doing a startup in SF or the valley instead

My 2 cents is that the tech talent is here but it's not very interested (collectively) in working on startups. Abysmal cost of living in Sydney isn't helping...

You'll have to unpack your points a bit more - what do you meant about "overly concentrated on Y-combo style accelerators which are incredibly raw in terms of intake"? 

I think comparing with China is unhelpful. They have an enormous domestic market, low labour costs and a great deal of protection/governmental interference with foreign competitors. The SV scene is a bad enough comparator for Australia, but China is even less appropriate. I think we would be best served by looking at small-to-midscale countries/regions that have done well in niches and have similar economic development (Israel, "Silicon Fen" around Cambridge, etc). Even then it might be better to not immediately slide off into pontificating about other countries full stop. To quote President Johnson, "Making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg. It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else."

Geoff.

On Wednesday, 24 July 2019 09:37:09 UTC+10, drllau wrote:
>But maybe more usefully, here is a question we really should be asking, and which this forum used to answer. What’s lacking in the Australian tech industry these days?

Apart from all the standard whinges about clueless moneymen and myoptic gov, I'd say that too many capable people are working in industry (stable career path) so have no time to do interesting side projects which could morph into new businesses. Given current tax policies and exit outcomes, they'd rather stay in their nice comfy day job than take the plunge. I refer to San Diego whose defense sector got downsided after the US won Cold War and then pivoted to biotech.

whilst at other end, the capacity (spare time, energy, etc) has been overly concentrated on Y-combo style accelerators which are incredibly raw in terms of intake ... ignorance can be fixed but stupidity is forever in asking Australians to follow a US model without a) appropriate capital formation b) shortage of high quality mentors and c) more tech follower adoption/adaption rather than originating/disruptive leader (in terms of technical risk .... asking for prototypes and traction before looksee).

Let's compare with China, JackMa & AliBaba started off in a few apartments in Hangzhou, DJE was a kid (relatively speaking) that took the plunge to visit Shenzhen, Xiaomei started off doing shanzai manufacturing of short-run phones. They played to their strengths whereas IMHO australia emerging tech is not. The very fact of relative lack of capital means that they are customer & cashflow focused and due to cost structure wins the marathon race acquiring western tech along the way.

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