Live from #Tech23: Cloud group – ESR Momentum, OrionVM and StageBitz

I’m currently sitting in the audience for Tech23, Australia’s premier showcase for early-stage technology companies.  In an opening address from the deputy premier the  Hon. Andrew Stoner, who gave plugs to the Australian Technology Showcase and MEGA, announced that the NSW Government would be supporting the Fishburners early-stage company workspace.

The first presentation was from Pem Dechen from ESR Momentum, an information management service for schools to help them track and manage the learning needs of students. Pem’s presentation included a passionate plea to the judges, invoking the words of Jerry Maguire ,’to help you, help us, help the children.”

Pem was followed by Sheng Yeo from OrionVM, which has built one of the fastest cloud computing platforms in the world, with a storage architecture designed to meed the future needs of cloud computing users. Sheng showed an impressive list of advisers as well as a strong growth pipeline.

The third presentation for the morning was from Catherine Prosser from StageBitz, who did a great job of articulating the issues faced by creative companies in both inventorying and even making money from the thousands of props that are created each year. A beta version has already been tested around the world, including Opera Australia, Bell Shakespeare Company and NIDA.

Live from the DBCDE Telework Forum #teleworkforum

Am currently in the audience for the Department of Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy’s Telework Forum at the Westin Hotel in Sydney. The purpose of today is to explore the opportunities for the promotion of remote working and teleworking, and how to encourage its uptake within the business community.

The event was kicked off with an address from the Hon. Stephen Conroy, who reiterated the government’s goal to double the number of Australians who telework by 2020, so that one in eight might work from home rather than an organised workplace. Australia lags many other developed economies when it comes to the adoption of telework. He also talked about an Access Economics report that showed that gains in reduced travel costs, staff retention and productivity gains through the use of telework by just a small number of workers would be between $1.4 and $1.9 billion each year. According to Access economics, if 10 percent of Australian employees teleworked for half the time we could save 120 million litres of fuel each year and reduce peak traffic by 5 percent.

And while the National Broadband Network might alleviate the technical problems, there are still cultural barriers to be overcome.

X|Media|Lab & Creativeinnovation – The infinite paths to creative success

During this year’s X|Media|Lab conference day in Sydney I had the pleasure of interviewing a number of the speakers on behalf of Creativeinnovation. The main theme was around the factors that drive creative success, and the speakers gave an incredibly diverse set of opinions regarding the road to success. Much of their thoughts are captured in this showcase video and blog post for Creativeinnovation. Individual interviews with Tim Chang, John Tarnoff, Andy Elwood, Christopher Tanner and Dr Vesna Petresin-Robert will follow. Thanks to the teams at X|Media|Lab and Creativeinnovation for making this happen.

X|Media|Lab to hold Transmedia Masterclass with Geoff Gomez

Last year I had the pleasure of interviewing US-based trans-media producer Geoff Gomez for a podcast for Australian Anthill. As the founder and CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment Geoff has been blurring the lines between films, comics, toys, games and even them park rides since the 1990s, and you can listen to to his thoughts on the topic by clicking here. Now X|Media|Lab has announced that it will be holding a masterclass with Geoff in Melbourne and Sydney later this month. For more information, click here.

Games developers to converge on Ballarat

Back in June I gave a presentation on A Faster Future in the regional Victoria city of Ballarat, organised by the University of Ballarat Technology Park and the local ICT association, Ballarat ICT. If you’ve never been there, Ballarat is a city that rose to prominence during the Victoria gold rush of the 19th century, and today has a population of 90,000. It is growing quickly, partially as a result of its comparatively lower cost of living than nearby Melbourne while still being within commuting distance, and it has also developed as a major regional centre with its own industry and services base.

It was a great turnout, including senior personnel from the University, the local State Member of Parliament Sharon Knight and various business leaders from around the region. What impressed me mot was the hunger for information on new technologies and services and how they could improve the lives of people living in the region, and also the commitment shown to developing the city as an ICT hub.

To that end, the City of Ballarat has organised Ballarat GIG: Get Into Games, Australia’s largest regional computer games career expo, which will be held at the Ballarat Mining Exchange on the 22nd and 23rd of July. Speakers include GDAA CEO Tony Reed, and presentations from Australian developers Big Ant and Firemint, amongst others. Ballarat GIG has been running since 2006, and includes presentations from local education institutions and teacher specific workshops.

Live from X|Media|Lab 2011 Sydney: John Tranoff @johntarnoff from Newspeak #XMediaLab

The third presentation at X|Media|Lab 2011 was from John Tarnoff, a former executive at Dreamworks and now the founder of Hollywood-based Newspeak Consulting Group. His presentation focused on people, talking about 21st Century citizenship and the emergence of a seamless industry of platforms and streams. Everyone is a participant in content creation these days, with content shaped by interaction between content and fans. The language created by Hollywood has gone global, and it will lose share of voice as a result, while individuals are self-organising into communities, rather than remaining in static audiences.

“An audience is a group that will stand by and watch you fail – a community is a group that will jump in and help you succeed.”

His presentation talked about the massive changes that he has witnessed in the content creation industry, and how these changes much be embraced. There is a demand for transparency that is a breath of fresh air, not a threat to traditional models. The new skills for the 21st Century citizen include being able to better brand and identify ourselves to make ourselves be appreciated – we are building personal brands, and if we are not, we need to get busy.  New skills needed include critical thinking, time management, and many more – we need to learn them and teach them to our children. While we have lost face-t0-face communication, we need to get involved in deeper levels of engagement both on and off the screen.

He also talked about the emergence of curation as an empowerment and community building tool. All of us who use social media are performing a selection and filtering process that is a form of leadership that can rally support aroound an idea. He said that we must strive to demolish silos, and we must invite their builders out to play, to build communities instead. He also recommended the book The Starfish and the Spider.


Live from X|Media|Lab 2011 Sydney #XMediaLab: Tim Chang @timechange

I’ll attending X Media Lab Global Media Ideas 2011 today, the Sydney outing of the global digital media and ideas conference and workshops. For many years Brendan Harkin and Megan Elliott have been gathering together the world’s most interesting thinkers and do-ers in the world of digital media. I’m hoping to live blog some of the sessions, but will be stepping out for some to film a series of videos for Creative Industries Innovation Centre.

After a welcome on behalf of the traditional owners of the land, and from the NSW deputy premier Andrew Stoner, the first presentation for the day was given by Tim Chang, principal of the Silicon Valley venture investor Norwest Venture Partners.  The firms is managing about US$4 billion in assets, and raised its last US$1.2 billion fund in 2009. The firm has funded more than 500 companies n its 50 year history, with 70 active companies in its portfolio today. Chang talked about the basis of venture investing, which represents the early-stage, high risk/high return part of the investment cycle. He talked about the VC sector has heated up significantly in the past couple of years, with some investors now looking to get into hot deals at any price. There are fewer stock market listings today though in comparison to the dotcom boom, and many companies do not have the equity to buy out VC-backed companies. This has created more space for a secondary market for companies like Digital Sky Technologies and Softbank, who are helping founders achieve liquidity earlier than they might otherwise. He also talked about the rise of the super angels who have moved beyond private investment to create their own investment funds for earlier stage investment, particularly in consumer-focused Web start-ups, and are filling in the gap as VCs have moved up into larger deals. His main message was that the traditional roles are changing, with half of today’s VCs having disappeared within five years as super angels step up.

He also talked about what VCs talk about after the pitch. He cited the three Ts – team, traction and tier-one co-investors. One of the questions he asks entrepreneurs is do they want to be rich of famous – meaning do they want control, or do they want to create shareholder value. Someone who wants to be rich may be more willing to step aside for someone more qualified. early stage VCs are talent scouts with cheque books. Later VCs chase momentum, and may push an investment to an early exit.

He also gave tips on what entrepreneurs should ask VCs, who are really just selling capital. Can they help build a team, can they bring in advisers and directors, do they know the market, can they help with product and positioning and open doors. Can they give some branding to attract follow-up funding. And most importantly, can they help manufacture an exit.

What’s next? Chang said we are moving from Web 1.0 to the idea of the Web being dead – the silos are going away, and layers are emerging in mobile, social, game mechanics, and so on, and the emerge of platform brands such as Facebook, AdMeld, FreeWheel, Zynga, Hulu, Tumblr, Groupon, Gilt, Mint, Lending Club and Fund DNA, and many more. Who to invest in? Look for who is selling the tools to enable these platforms to work. Content is kind, but distribution is God Almighty. Apps are moving more and more to a freemium model, with in-app monetisation now the preferred strategy. It is also worth looking at the Seven Deadly Sins as a source of motivation. Chang is also a big fan of game mechanics as a means of motivating people towards a desire outcome – beating a high score is a strong motivator. What would your life or your busienss look like if it was a game? The new acronym is MoSolLo – Mobile Social location.

What is not hot – systems and infrastructure; enterprise software; consumer and Internet site such as ad-only sites  and early social gaming ideas, group buying services, and Facebook, check-in and Twitter extensions.

X Media Lab Sydney tickets still available – Australia’s best digital creativity conference

If you’ve not got yourself a ticket for X Media Lab’s Global Media Ideas conference day being held at the Sydney Opera House on June 10 then get in quick. For many years now XML has been the premiere event showcasing Australian and international digital creativity. Speakers this year include leading Silicon Valley investor Tim Chang, Human League and Heaven 17 founder Martyn Ware, Google Earth co-creator and Emdigo CEO Christopher Tanner and Gowalla business development manager Andy Ellwood. Hope to see you there!

Live from #CeBIT 2011 – eGovernment Forum

I’m speaking at the CeBIT eGovernment forum later this afternoon, so I’ve decided to catch as many sessions as possible while also going for a wander around the show floor later.

The first speaker for the eGovernment forum was the federal Special Minister of State, the Hon. Gary Gray, whose presentation who talked about the role of technology in driving productivity gains, including his own experiences in his home in regional WA. Gray also referenced the National Digital Economy Strategy launched by the National Digital Economy Strategy launched by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy.

Gray was followed by the Australian Australian Government chief information officer, Ann Steward. She opened by referencing the McKinsey Global Institute report of May 2011 which includes some interesting statistics regarding the important of the Internet to various developed economies, and talked about the ongoing role of AGIMO in driving the eGovernment agenda. She also talked about the government’s work with numerous agencies on benchmarking, to ensure that the investments being made are delivering productivity gains. Government spending on IT has been stable for the past three years while service delivery has improved, and the government has been encouraging telepresence within government departments. Other topics covered were the need to progress the strategy of making government data available to external parties, and AGIMO’s cloud strategy to provide a new platform for IT procurement. And finally she discussed the government’s strategy for managing location-based information, with the goal of ‘spatially-enabling’ the Australian government.


Live from KANZ 2011 – Leo Jun from SK Telecom – Screens are everywhere #kanz11

The final session at KANZ 2011 that I attended today was given byLeo Jun (@uberlab), director of the media platform diviosn in the personal media business at Korea’s SK Telecom. His presentation, Screens are everywhere, what about your content?, focused on SK Telecom’s hoppin service, which seeks to solve the problem of consumers being bombarded with too much content.

It’s solution is to enable users to move their experience for watching content from one device to another – ie, a program being watched on a mobile device can seamlessly be transferred to another screen as suits the consumer. The service can also make recommendations to consumers to help them find content based on their user behaviour, and they can also search based on emotional keywords such as ‘horrific’ or ‘heartwarming’.

The service also enables the mobile phone to be used as a settop box, with the TV just acking as a big, dumb screen. Using a cradle the phone basically takes over the TV with content automatically reformatted. It is also possible to get content information sent to your tablet PC as you watch.