Top Tech Stories from Around the Globe: Self-driving vehicles to $1bn accounting blunders!

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We’re bringing you the major tech stories happening from around the globe right to your doorstep here in Sydney.

Amazon enters the self-driving race

Let’s kick things off with a global story with a local Aussie connection, back in 2014 an Aussie by the name of Tim Kentley-Klay co-founded a self-driving company called Zoox, which last week got bought by no other than the goliath Amazon for a cool US$1.2bn.

The self-driving race is well and truly on, while Amazon has a position it has a fierce rival in Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet. The battle for the best engineers is a global one evident here with two of Zoox’s longest serving engineers who have left to go to rival Waymo. Watch this space as the race picks up pace.

Talking of races…

Electric vehicle race heats up

A tech company is now the most valuable car company in the world – yes, Elon Musk’s Tesla is now valued more than any other car manufacturer in the world even though it began life in 2003 many many years after the likes of General Motors (1908), Ford (1903), Nissan (1933) and Toyota (1937). Its share price hit $1,200 a share this week valuing Tesla in excess of US$200bn, whereas GM and Ford combined are valued at less than US$50bn.

For a very interesting read of how that nearly didn’t happen as Elon was down to his last $40m in late 2008 pick up his book – it is quite remarkable how he managed to keep Tesla and SpaceX alive.

Another company on a remarkable journey is Nikola, an electric truck business, which floated last month now valued at $20B US (more than Ford) BUT are yet to sell a single vehicle! The shift is happening with ARRIVAL also making waves in this space. The future is electric, so how does Australia and its economy need to adapt with the move away from fossil fuels?

Insurance the next industry to be disrupted – Lemonade IPO

Continuing along the theme of disruption, this week saw Insurtech Lemonade float on the New York Stock Exchange doubling its valuation on day one to US$3bn. Backed by Softbank, the company is offering a better experience to customers purchasing renters and home insurance through its platform. While the insurance industry is littered with legacy systems it has a very high bar to entry with regulation, but the moat is shrinking and Aussie-founded Cover Genius is on the verge of a breaking out following a marquee partnership with eBay.

Fintech Winner!

Checkout.com, the global payment solutions provider, announced recently that it is taking funding from outside investors for the first time in its history, having raised $230m in what is Europe’s largest fintech Series A round ever, and globally the third largest fintech Series A round of all time.

Fintech Loser!

Last week, it emerged that EY auditors failed to check whether Wirecard really did have up to $1bn in cash in a Singapore bank for more than three years. We all make mistakes…

In January the German payment processor and financial services provider was valued at $20bn Euros, today $450m, the impact has been felt by UK fintechs like Curve, Anna and Pockit which are all reliant on Wirecard’s services.

Local highlights – Canva, Kasada and a former Prime Minister

Canva continues on its rocketship journey with a $60m capital raise. This is a company that has shown global growth and is further evidence of what impact is capable of from the Sydney tech ecosystem. Join Canva for the ride!

Cyber security startup Kasada founded by Sam Crowther in 2015 recently raised US$10m. An early investor is no other than former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who last week appeared on a podcast with Equity Mates where he discusses his investment in Kasada as well as OzEmail back in the 1990s, which led to the first Australian tech company listing on the Nasdaq.

That’s a wrap! Keep dreaming big, don’t give up and one day we might just be talking about you!