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What are tech unicorns, and what does the landscape look like in Australia? Being aware of these billion-dollar companies can help investors identify up and comers.

Aussies are a pretty tech-savvy bunch, and this business is key to the country's economy.

Australia has created its fair share of tech unicorns in recent years. But what exactly does that mean?

The term "tech unicorn" is thought to have first been coined by a venture capitalist named Aileen Lee in California back in 2013. It refers to a privately held startup company whose value exceeds $1 billion.


There are more than 600 unicorns that have gained entry into this relatively exclusive club, including the likes of Reddit, Bytedance, SpaceX, Stripe, SHEIN, Ola Cabs and Patreon.

Australia's tech unicorn landscape

Australia has a reputation for being home to small businesses and startups. Notable examples of Aussie ingenuity include Wi-Fi technology, Google Maps, black box flight recorders and cochlear implants.

Although the country has produced successful small to medium enterprises like Atlassian (NASDAQ:TEAM) and buy now, pay later business Afterpay (ASX:APT), experts believe a lack of resources is preventing the country from producing more internationally successful technology companies.

In fact, at time of publication, a list of more than 600 tech unicorns included just four from Australia. Leaders in the space are the US with roughly 50 percent of the list and China with 23 percent, followed by the UK with 5 percent and India with 4 percent.

Given that Australia has the 14th largest economy globally, with 2,422,404 actively trading businesses in the nation's economy as of June 2020, there is potential to grow.

Noteworthy tech unicorns in Australia

Although Australia is a relatively small market compared to North America and Europe, it currently has four tech unicorns, as per the CB Insights list mentioned above. They are:

  • Canva — A DIY graphic design app created by Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams. At the time of publication, Canva was an impressive 14th on the CB Insights list, having debuted as a tech unicorn in January 2018. With a market worth of AU$15 billion, select investors in the company include Sequoia Capital China, Blackbird Ventures and Matrix Partners.
  • Airwallex — Currently based in Sydney, Airwallex was founded in Melbourne and was the fastest Aussie startup to achieve unicorn status. Valued at AU$2.6 billion, it offers competition to the big banks with cheaper solutions for international payments. Added to the list in March 2019, select investors include DST Global, Sequoia Capital China and Tencent Holdings (OTC Pink:TCTZF,HKEX:0700).
  • SafetyCulture — Founded in Townsville by CEO Luke Anear, SafetyCulture has provided occupational health and safety and compliance documents since 2004. With 30,000 customers, 1,500 products and a valuation of AU$1.6 billion, it's the newest addition to the tech unicorns list, having been added in March 2021. Select investors include Blackbird Ventures, IndexVentures and Tiger Global Management.
  • Judo Bank — This online challenger bank, which offers personal term deposits as well as business loans to small to medium enterprises, is worth AU$1.21 billion. It became a tech unicorn in December 2020, and select investors include Ironbridge Capital, OPTrust and Myer Family Investments.

What about Australia's tech "soonicorns"?

Beyond the tech unicorns mentioned above, there are a number of Aussie startups worth keeping an eye on. Dubbed "soonicorns" by data business Tracxn, these businesses have been tracking well.

  • Nuix — This Sydney-based tech startup has been going from strength to strength since listing in December 2020. Although it had 2020's biggest debut, it's since fallen below its initial public offering price.
  • Octopus Deploy — This company helps businesses automate software development. In April 2021, it had one of the largest venture capital raises in Australia, with investment from Insight Partners rumoured to push its valuation up close to AU$900 million.
  • Siteminder — An investment from BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) in early 2020 put the valuation of this hotel-booking startup at AU$1.1 billion. COVID-19 has been tough on the business, but as the tourism and hospitality sectors bounce back, Siteminder expects it will too. At time of publication, it was back to sitting 60 percent above pre-pandemic levels and working to reposition as the "global hotel commerce platform."

How to identify potential Australian tech unicorns?

Tech unicorns tend to fall into four major categories: fintech, ecommerce, artificial intelligence/robotics and health. It is difficult to predict when a new one will emerge, but investors can keep an ear to the ground by researching media coverage and Australian Securities and Investments Commission filings.

Unicorns can also create a new niche. While some seek to solve an existing problem, many are the first to market. Looking at businesses with the potential rapid growth, and analysing the rate at which a business brings in new users, can be useful — high growth is often the path to a high valuation.

The future for tech unicorns in Australia

Australia is still lacking the right "ecosystem" for propelling big startups, according to a report from Startup Genome, which tracks the top 40 cities in a global startup ecosystem ranking.

Only two Australian cities even made the list. Sydney ranked the highest at 27th (down four spots from the previous year), with Melbourne trailing at 36th — although its debut on the list speaks to growth potential.

Melbourne produces more technology talent than any other city, according to Genome, with both the University of Melbourne and Monash University ranking among the top three Australian universities for technology and engineering. Time will tell whether a post-pandemic Australia strives for new heights or remains low on the totem pole of tech unicorns.

Don't forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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"I'm no market forecaster, but part of me suggests this could get worse before it gets better," said Rick Rule of Rule Investment Media.

Rick Rule: Gold, Oil and Gas, Coal, Water — Commodities for Now and Later youtu.be

As the broader markets face volatility, what is investor and speculator Rick Rule doing with his money?

Speaking to the Investing News Network at the recent Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, Rule, who is proprietor at Rule Investment Media, said he sees the current circumstances as an opportunity.

"What bear markets really are is sales, and if you think that sales are good, then these are good," he said. He has a shopping list ready and is looking for places he can scale in, but did urge listeners to proceed with caution.

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"We are very likely going to experience the greatest silver bull market of our generation," said author and newsletter writer Peter Krauth.

Peter Krauth: Silver "Very, Very Undervalued," Ways to Play this Volatile Sector youtu.be

Peter Krauth, editor of Silver Stock Investor, joined the Investing News Network to discuss his new book, "The Great Silver Bull: Crush Inflation and Profit as the Dollar Dies."

Although gold is the most popular of the precious metals, silver has a loyal following, and Krauth believe it's set to shine brightly as market elements like inflation spiral out of control.

"It's very, very undervalued," he explained during the interview. "It's very difficult to find a better value for your money right now — silver is definitely the place for that."

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Australia has a buzzing tech market, but where are its biggest and most important hubs? Learn about the country's major markets and their development in recent years.

The global technology industry has grown at an impressive speed in the 21st century, generally increasing at a rate of about 5 to 6 percent year-on-year. Although 2020 was rocky as the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world, the market is expected to see this growth again as it returns to a normal pattern.

New technologies are emerging all the time, and keeping up with every sector can be daunting. It can be helpful to hone in on individual areas, and Australia is a compelling place to look.

Here the Investing News Network provides an overview of the Australian tech landscape, including the country's hottest areas for tech development and the major companies working there.


Australia's place in the global tech landscape

Australia's tech sector is still developing, but it's already the third biggest contributor to the country’s GDP, behind mining and banking. It brought in about AU$167 billion in 2021, and its economic contribution has grown 79 percent in the last six years. This rapid growth is partly due to increased use of technology during COVID-19.

Even so, Australia’s tech sector has faced challenges. Currently the nation's tech industry directly contributes 3.8 percent of the country’s GDP, compared to 10.2 percent in the US and the 8.1 percent in the UK.

According to a report by the Technology Council of Australia and Accenture, if Australia’s tech sector continues to directly contribute an annual 3.8 percent to GDP for the next decade, it would be bringing about AU$214 billion to the country by 2031. However, if Australia can match the 6.8 percent tech industry GDP contribution of Canada, a country with a similar economy, it would make for an additional AU$30 billion annually.

How Australia's government is encouraging tech growth

In November 2021, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged to reduce the country’s dependence on China by investing billions into its own industries. This includes an impressive 63 technology sectors, ranging from cybersecurity to biomedicine to low-emissions technology.

Of this list of 63 technologies, the first to be funded is quantum technology — Australia will pledge AU$100 million for quantum research in the country. According to a report by CSIRO, Australia’s quantum technology industry could create 16,000 jobs and over AU$4 billion in revenue by 2040.

Where are Australia’s tech hubs?

As mentioned, the tech market is relatively young in Australia — although it's the third biggest contributor in terms of GDP, it's only the seventh largest Australian industry when it comes to total jobs. However, it’s been growing at a remarkable pace in recent years, and key players have emerged in the big tech hubs.

Read on for an overview of where most big tech companies are located in Australia. All market cap data included below was gathered on April 21, 2022, using TradingView's stock screener.

Tech hubs in Australia: Sydney

Unsurprisingly, Sydney is one of the big Australian tech hubs. This is because Sydney is Australia’s business capital.

Sydney is known primarily for its financial services, software and media industries. Some of the key players in Sydney’s tech industry by market cap, are:

1. Wisetech Global (ASX:WTC)

Market cap: AU$15 billion

Wisetech Global is headquartered in Sydney and develops cloud-based software for the global logistics industry. Its worldwide presence is undeniable, as it provides software for 12,000 organisations in 150 countries.

As Wisetech continues to grow, it has made many acquisitions. Some purchases made in recent years include Ready Korea, a South Korean customs solutions company; SISA Studio Informatica, a renowned Swiss provider of customs and freight forwarding systems; and US-based logistics company Depot Systems.

2. Audinate Group (ASX:AD8)

Market cap: AU$588.72 million

Audinate Group is a Sydney-based company that provides digital audio technologies. Audinate is best known for its platform Dante, which sends digital audio signals through computer networks.

Tech hubs in Australia: Melbourne

Melbourne is the second big hotspot for tech companies in Australia; alongside that, the city is well known for its biotech and biomedical services and research industries.

Interestingly, Melbourne is also becoming a go-to location for hot tech startups. This is because it has much more available and affordable office space than Sydney. Melbourne is ranked with cities like Boston and London when it comes to biomedical research, making it a global leader in the field. According to Savills’ Tech City Index, it’s also the only city in Australia ranked among the 22 best cities in the world for tech companies.

1. Afterpay

Afterpay is the biggest tech company in Australia, and has experienced significant growth in the last year. As its name implies, Afterpay is a buy-now, pay-later service. Currently it’s used by over 55,000 retail businesses. It also operates a secondary business function called Touch, which is a system for online payments.

On January 31, 2022, Afterpay was acquired by Block (NYSE:SQ) for AU$39 billion.

Tech hubs in Australia: Brisbane

Although Brisbane has long been overlooked by investors in favour of Sydney and Melbourne, it’s been growing its tech industry steadily over the years and is even trying to assert itself as an Australian tech hub.

Many big tech companies and small startups alike have their operations set up in Brisbane. Some notably large companies by market cap include:

1. Novonix (ASX:NVX)

Market cap: AU$2.92 billion

Novonix is a battery technology company based in Brisbane. Novonix primarily focuses on creating equipment for testing lithium-ion batteries. Thanks to the rapid growth of the electric vehicle (EV) market in Australia and worldwide, the company is expecting to break even this year.

Recent preliminary results for an environmental impact study show that its systems offer a 60 percent decrease in CO2 emissions. If the final results remain consistent, this will mean Novonix’s synthetic graphite EV and ESS battery anode materials are 2.5 times less harmful to the environment than products made in China.

2. TechnologyOne (ASX:TNE)

Market cap: AU$3.57 billion

Enterprise tech firm TechnologyOne offers software services to over 1,200 clients in Australia and New Zealand, plus some customers in the UK. Notable users include Sydney Motorway and the University of Melbourne.

TechnologyOne’s software is used to help migrate companies to online processes, such as transferring paper-based systems to a digital platform. The majority of its revenue ⁠— 86 percent ⁠— comes from annual subscriptions.

3. NEXTDC (ASX:NXT)

Market cap: AU$5.13 billion

NEXTDC is a data centre company focusing on energy-efficient services for businesses. It offers connectivity services, infrastructure management software and cloud readiness. Although its headquarters are in Brisbane, the company has 11 data centres set up across Australia, including some in Sydney, Melbourne and elsewhere.

NEXTDC is one of the top tech stocks listed on the ASX, and is widely regarded as one of the most reliable data centres in Australia thanks to its high-performance hosting. This is why it’s partnered with large names like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Cloud and Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) Cloud.

Thanks to the growing importance of data services in recent years, NEXTDC has grown steadily in size and revenue.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Matthew Flood, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

icetana’s Largest Customer Extends Contract and Receives First South America Order

icetana Limited (ASX: ICE “icetana” or “the Company”) advises that a purchase order has been received following negotiations for a new Software Maintenance Agreement with Majid al Futtaim Properties (LLC) (“MAF”).

Highlights:


  • icetana has received a purchase order for its largest Middle East shopping mall contract.
  • The existing service contract which expires this month has been renewed at US$350,000 per annum in recurring license fees.
  • icetana has also received it’s first order from a South American client with NEC Argentina

The renewal covers the 12 months from April 2022 to March 2023 with a license fee of US$350,000 (A$465,000) for existing cameras already installed and being actively used by MAF at over 16 shopping centres throughout the Middle East.

MAF has been a strong referring customer of icetana since 2016 and icetana’s motion intelligence system provides enhanced security whilst saving money on guards as an integrated part of MAF’s mall operations.

icetana looks forward to a continued positive relationship with MAF as COVID conditions improve and shopping mall operations return to full capacity.

As part of our expanded sales strategy into new markets, icetana has also received an order from NEC Argentina which is the company’s first revenue from the South American market. This follows the previously announced (8 December 2021) signing of a development collaboration Memorandum of Understanding.

Development of icetana’s next generation motion intelligence product has accelerated over the past three months and four trial customers have been secured for the beta release during April 2022.

Material terms of commercial arrangements:

For MAF:

The contractual arrangement disclosed in this announcement is directly between ICETANA SYSTEMS SOFTWARE TRADING L.L.C a Dubai-based subsidiary of icetana and the end-user Majid al Futtaim Properties (LLC) (“MAF”) and is an Addendum to a pre-existing Software Maintenance Agreement (“SMA”) first signed in June 2019.

MAF is subject to the End User Licence Agreement as published on the icetana website.

The payment terms for this contract from MAF to icetana are 30 days for the annual lump sum. MAF has been a client of icetana since 2016 with a positive payment history.

The agreement has renewed for a one year term and will again be subject to a renewal or extension in March 2023. It is therefore possible that no revenue over and above the value disclosed from this annual renewal materialises from MAF pursuant to this commercial arrangement going forward. Either party may terminate the contract on 30 days of notice.

For NEC Argentina:

The contractual arrangement disclosed in this announcement is directly between icetana and NEC Argentina rather than the end user and is valued at US$15,000 over three years. NEC Argentina and the end user is subject to the End User Licence Agreement as published on the icetana website.

The payment terms from NEC Argentina to icetana are 30 days from receipt of purchase order. NEC Argentina is part of the global NEC group and debt risk is very low.

The order provides for a three year development term and will be subject to a renewal or extension in January 2025. It is therefore possible that no revenue over and above the initial order value materialises from NEC Argentina pursuant to this commercial arrangement going forward. There is no termination clause with this order.

Click here for the full ASX Release

This article includes content from icetana Limited , licensed for the purpose of publishing on Investing News Australia. This article does not constitute financial product advice. It is your responsibility to perform proper due diligence before acting upon any information provided here. Please refer to our full disclaimer here.

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The gold price is trading lower than some market watchers would prefer, but the top-performing ASX gold stocks so far this year are making leaps.

Click here to read the previous best ASX gold stocks article.

While 2021 was a disappointing year for gold, analysts are optimistic about the outlook for 2022.

The yellow metal passed the US$2,000 per ounce mark as tensions between Russia and Ukraine heated up, but has since pulled back to trade closer to US$1,800. However, diverse factors could combine to push it higher.

Demand for gold jewellery, gold bars and coins, and the metal’s use in the technology sector are still going strong, and supply is also a growing concern due to decreased gold exploration efforts in recent years.


Against this backdrop, many Australian gold stocks are doing well. And with the precious metal generally considered a safe investment, it's worth being aware of the county's top-performing companies.

Here the Investing News Network looks at the best ASX gold stocks of the year so far by year-to-date gains. The list of stocks below was generated on April 29, 2022, using TradingView’s stock screener, and all companies included had market caps over AU$30 million at that time.

1. Xantippe Resources

Year-to-date gain: 180 percent; market cap: AU$107.3 million; current share price: AU$0.01

Xantippe Resources (ASX:XTC) is focused on Western Australia's Southern Cross region, which is widely known for its past gold production. The precious metals explorer's Southern Cross project is made up of 20 prospecting licences and six exploration licences, and holds a number of key priority targets.

In late April, Xantippe confirmed the acquisition of lithium tenements in Argentina with the hope of commencing exploration activities in the third quarter.

2. Minrex Resources

Year-to-date gain: 55.81 percent; market cap: AU$63.05 million; current share price: AU$0.07

Minrex Resources’ (ASX:MRR) assets include five gold and base metals projects in Western Australia, four of which are in the mineral-rich East Pilbara region.

The company started off the year with high-grade gold drill results from its work at the Queenslander gold prospect within its Sofala project. The prospect is centred around the past-producing Queenslander mine.

3. Aston Minerals

Year-to-date gain: 38.1 percent; market cap: AU$164.19 million; current share price: AU$0.15

Gold and nickel-cobalt explorer Aston Minerals (ASX:ASO) is moving forward at its Edleston gold project, located in the Cadillac-Larder Lake fault zone of Canada's Abitibi greenstone belt. Edleston is its flagship asset, and according to the company, it is the first in over a decade to drill in this area.

Aston continues to focus on gold at Edleston, but its Boomerang nickel-cobalt target has come to the forefront in recent months, with the company announcing the results of its maiden hole there in early December.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Marlee John, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Australian lithium miners continued to move ahead with their projects during the year's third financial quarter.

After hitting all-time highs in 2021, lithium prices started to stabilise in 2022's first quarter.

China’s lockdown measures to battle COVID-19 have disrupted the supply chain and impacted domestic demand in recent weeks, but this is expected to be temporary, according to William Adams of Fastmarkets.

“The lithium market is very tight. We don't see that easing anytime soon,” he said during a recent webinar about risks in the battery metals market. “We think the underlying fundamentals and the trends are still very strong.”


During the third quarter of the financial year, Australian lithium miners continued to move ahead with their projects, and despite the increased volatility in the markets, many ASX lithium stocks saw share price gains as well.

Perth-based Pilbara Minerals' (ASX:PLS,OTC Pink:PILBF) production for the quarter was 81,431 dry metric tonnes (dmt), slightly down compared to the previous three months, but within guidance. The company said the main factor impacting output was higher COVID-19 cases, which resulted in staff and contractor shortages.

“COVID-19 has (and may continue in the near term) to cause operational delays, including staffing shortages for both shut-down and operating staff (mining and processing),” the company said in a statement. Even so, Pilbara has decided to maintain its production guidance in the range of 340,000 to 380,000 dmt.

During its fourth battery material exchange auction, the company saw the highest bid ever at US$5,650 per dmt for a cargo of 5,000 dmt of spodumene, showing the critical shortage in lithium raw material supply.

Western Australia-focused Pilbara, which owns the lithium-tantalum Pilgangoora operation, has partnerships with Ganfeng Lithium (OTC Pink:GNENF,SZSE:002460), General Lithium, Great Wall Motor Company (OTC Pink:GWLLF,HKEX:2333), POSCO (NYSE:PKX), CATL (SZSE:300750) and Yibin Tianyi.

Shares of Pilbara were trading at AU$2.53 on May 10, down 28.13 percent year-to-date, but up more than 100 percent compared to this time last year.

For its part, leading Australian lithium and iron ore miner Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN,OTC Pink:MALRF) saw its Mount Marion mine’s production reach 104,000 dmt during the quarter; it also shipped 94,000 dmt of spodumene concentrate. The company is maintaining its full-year production guidance at 450,000 to 475,000 dmt.

In April, Mineral Resources and partner Ganfeng agreed to optimise production and upgrade Mount Marion's processing facilities. Spodumene concentrate capacity at the operation is expected to increase from 450,000 dmt per year to 600,000 dmt annually.

“The decision to upgrade the plant reflects an expectation that the lithium market outlook will remain extremely strong for the foreseeable future,” the company said in a press release. A second stage increase, expected to be completed by the end of 2022, will see capacity rise further to reach 900,000 dmt.

Aside from Mount Marion, the company holds interests in Wodgina in partnership with another top producer — Albemarle (NYSE:ALB). The companies decided to restart Wodgina last year as a result of soaring global lithium demand. The mine produced its first spodumene concentrate on May 12.

“(We have) also agreed to review the state of the global lithium market towards the end of this calendar year to assess timing for the start-up of Train 3 and the possible construction of Train 4,” the company said. Each train has a nameplate capacity of 250,000 dmt of 6 percent product.

Mineral Resources’ share price was down 10.71 percent on May 10, trading at AU$52.71. That said, the stock is up 9.11 percent year-on-year.

During the March quarter, Argentina-focused Allkem (ASX:AKE,OTC Pink:OROCF) outlined its plans to increase lithium production threefold by 2026 and become a top three chemicals supplier.

In Western Australia, the company owns the Mount Cattlin mine, which produced 48,562 dmt of spodumene concentrate and shipped 66,011 tonnes in the March quarter.

“Strong conditions in the spodumene market are supporting advanced discussions for spodumene concentrate pricing in the June quarter of approximately US$5,000 per dmt SC6 percent CIF on sales of approximately 50,000 tonnes,” the company told investors in a note.

In Argentina, Allkem operates the Salar de Olaroz and is developing the Sal de Vida lithium brine. Additionally, in partnership with Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015), Allkem is building a 10,000 tonne per year lithium hydroxide plant in Naraha, Japan. The company also owns the James Bay lithium pegmatite project in Canada.

On May 10, shares of Allkem were changing hands for AU$10.95, down 2.23 percent year-to-date, but up over 55 percent year-on-year.

Although its main focus is nickel, Independence Group (ASX:IGO) joined the lithium party last year after it bought a stake in Tianqi Lithium’s Australian assets. The companies, in joint venture, now control the majority of the biggest lithium mine in the world — Greenbushes.

Production at the mine was up 5 percent quarter-on-quarter at 270,464 tonnes of spodumene concentrate. By 2025, Greenbushes is expected to add around 800,000 tonnes per year to its output capacity.

IGO has seen its share price decline 4.63 percent year-to-date, trading at AU$11.34 on May 11. However, the stock is up 47.27 year-on-year.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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