by Divina Paredes

Movers and shakers: Callaghan Innovation CEO Vic Crone touts NZ ‘unicorns’

Apr 08, 2019
Big DataDigital TransformationInnovation

Almost all of them are helping to grow the pie for all of us, regardless of what happens next. And often that’s in a social sense, as well an economic oneVic Crone, Callaghan Innovation

Vic Crone, Callaghan Innovation CEO, says New Zealand ‘unicorns’ have created more than $34 billion in value.

She says that 15 years after Navman, one of NZ’s largest tech companies was sold to a US buyer for around $100 million, Kiwi entrepreneurs have created at least nine businesses worth more $1 billion each.

The list includes A2 Milk, Xero, LanzaTech and Rocket Lab, says Crone, as she releases the latest Callaghan report Growing The Pie.

According to the report, another eight technology businesses are estimated to be worth more than $500 million each, and over 20 are worth more than $100 million each.

“As this report so clearly demonstrates, our taonga are our people mdash; the entrepreneurs who are battling for success against enormous odds, and in the process creating billions of dollars of value for this country,” says Crone.

“We need to figure out how we help them achieve their vision of success mdash; whether it is a sale, a public listing, or global expansion. Because almost all of them are helping to grow the pie for all of us, regardless of what happens next. And often that’s in a social sense, as well an economic one.”

Seven of New Zealand’s most respected innovators and investors, including Sir Stephen Tindall, Bridget Coates, and Rod Drury, note in the report how current entrepreneurs are hugely ambitious and socially conscientious.

They claim the old adage about our business people wanting “a boat, a bach and a BMW” no longer applies.

They also share a strong view that New Zealanders should not fear overseas investment in our best new businesses. In almost all cases, the investment is a net benefit to New Zealand, helping to improve our business expertise, conquer world markets, and invest in more new businesses, they say.

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“People of my generation maybe had that view,” says Bridget Coates.

She says Allbirds founder Tim Brown is an extremely good example of a hugely aspirational, hugely successful entrepreneur who accessed capital and expertise very early from the northern hemisphere.

“That overseas expertise was very likely a significant part of their success. Undoubtedly, the aspiration and motivation from the US investors has been a factor in their sustained global growth.”

“There’s a real confidence now and in this part of the world, with global power structures changing, we’re in an incredibly strong position for all sorts of opportunities,” notes Rod Drury.

“There is an absolute pride in our businesses of scale. We have companies like Rocket Lab that are shooting rockets into space mdash; that’s awesome. And look at all the movies that Weta’s putting out mdash; they’re unbelievable. We’re pretty good at a lot of hard things.”

He points out New Zealand can be much more aggressive on certain areas such as renewable energy, 5G and domestic payment networks.

“There’s all sorts of cool things we could be doing,” he states.

Jon White

Jon White is now CIO at Haier Europe, based in Milan, following more than eight years at Fisher Paykel Appliances.

White was IT manager at F P Appliances for over three years when he was promoted to general manager IT in 2013.

Andrew Cammell

Andrew Cammell is moving on from his CIO role at law firm Chapman Tripp after 13 years. Before this, he held ICT leadership roles in retail and manufacturing, including DB Breweries and Feltex Carpets. He is also a member of the NZTech Leaders, an advisory group of business technology leaders who help address ICT-related issues of national importance.

Grant McBeath

Grant McBeath is the new customer director at Spark, starting in July. He replaces Jolie Hodson, who will become Spark CEO from that date.

McBeath joined Spark from Nokia in 2013 as general manager of sales for the Spark consumer and SMB business. He was acting CEO for six months for Spark Home, Mobile and Business prior to becoming Channel Leader, Consumer and SMB when Spark transitioned to Agile ways of working.

Graeme Muller,NZTech CEO, has been invited to speak at the BTG conference in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, and will also attend the Global Entrepreneur Summit in the Hague in early June.

A number of New Zealand tech firms have also applied to attend the Hague conference which is invite only for the top 2000 start ups in the world. He will be sharing experience from more than a decade of technology forecasting and recent years of policy advisory to discuss what it is taking for New Zealand to be a truly connected digital nation.

Graeme Muller

“The Netherlands is an exciting and highly relevant country for New Zealand just now,” says Muller. They identified a decade ago that food production would be critical for the Netherlands, and that with the right investment would enable a major export industry.

“While in the Netherlands, I plan to meet the team from Food Valley and other leaders in agritech to learn more about their transition to a global leader in agritech and to build bridges for investors, entrepreneurs and market opportunities,” says Muller.

Scott Taylor has been appointed chief operating officer at Auckland-based fintech company AlphaCert.

Scott joins AlphaCert from utilities services business Vircom-EMS, where he led the business for three years. He then managed its sale to Vector Limited. Prior to that, Scott worked in national sales and operations leadership roles at FlexiGroup Limited, after working in the IT industry in New Zealand and the UK.

‘’Having proven our technology with organisations like AustralianSuper, AlphaCert is ready for a significant expansion into large investment managers through Australasia and further afield,” says founder and CEO, Phil Pietersen. “Scott’s appointment is key to that ambition.’’

Ian Pollard, managing director, Delta Insurance Group says the company has partnered with global security leader DynaRisk to deliver a cyber protection and insurance product for businesses and their employees and customers across the Asia-Pacific region.

Pollard says the cyber-risk product, which will be managed and marketed from Delta Insurance’s New Zealand and Singapore offices, is a first for the Asia-Pacific region, where industry commentators have long lamented the lack of innovation in cyber-risk solutions targeted at smaller enterprises.

Delta Insurance New Zealand CEO Craig Kirk says cyberattacks increased 205 per cent last year in New Zealand with individuals bearing the brunt of 65 per cent of the financial losses reported in 2018 to CERT NZ.

One-in-five of the 3445 cyber-breaches incurred a financial loss; total losses for 2018 came to $14 million – “and that was only those matters reported; inevitably this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

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