28.08.18 | Zoox and CEO oustings.

By Jessica Sier 31 August 2018 3 min read

Some politics happened last week.

So did some brutal Silicon Valley axing, when Tim Kentley-Klay was kicked out of the CEO job at Zoox, an autonomous mobility start-up.

The timing was rather abrupt.

Zoox is one of the most highly valued start-ups to come out of Australia in the last five years. Investors had just spent months poring over due diligence materials before backing Kentley-Klay's vision of a driverless future with a $US500 million capital injection.

It was rather a fabulous coup for Australian tech and everyone was rather excited.

Some investors were blogging, some investors were doing press. $500 million is not an insignificant amount of money! The CEO was from Melbourne! One local investor had backed these guys from the start!

But then the new board changed its mind and one afternoon last week, Kentley-Klay was out.

Here is a Sydney Morning Herald story that describes the axing as a clean kill and that the board's decision to oust Melbourne-born Kentley-Klay was unanimous.

Perhaps they took Kentley-Klay's ambition a little too literally by making the company driverless too.

As one Voyager Letter reader messaged to me over the weekend, "Happy to report, the Australian tech industry is on target to achieve Silicon Valley levels of BDE."

Ah, the politics of business.

Earnings season.

It's reporting season at the moment in Australia and tech companies are doing well overall.

Here are a few bite-sized results of some of the companies in the Spaceship Universe Portfolio:

  • The royal commission into the financial sector has seen incumbent banks withdraw from wealth management, and platforms like HUB24 are hoping to pick up the slack. HUB24 collates all your superannuation, pension, investments and insurance into one platform. It seems to be working; HUB24's underlying net profit after tax rose 129% to $5.4 million in the last year and they've introduced a dividend of 3.5ยข per share. ๐Ÿ“ˆ

  • Spaceship went along to the Xero shareholder meeting where founder Rod Drury was re-elected as non-executive director of the board. Xero sells accounting software for small business. The CEO is now Steve Vamos, former head of Microsoft Australia. Xero is expanding into the US and the UK and its operating earnings have turned positive this year. ๐Ÿ“ˆ

  • Wisetech allows you to see your entire supply chain and manage logistics from the cloud. It grew revenue by 44% to $221.6 and saw a 28% jump in net profit to $40.8 million, for the full year ended 30 June. ๐Ÿ“ˆ

  • Kogan sells heaps of things - electronics, plans, insurance - cheaply online. Shares halved between early June and the end of July but have since recovered. Net profit after tax increased 110.4% over the last year and revenue increased 42.4%. We are watching this company though, because founder and CEO Ruslan Kogan has been selling down chunks of shares and is kind of touchy about being asked about it. ๐Ÿค”

  • Superloop builds, buys and leases fibre networks and onsells them to customers (like the NBN). It has delivered a net profit of $7.1 million for the year ended June 30 2018 from a net loss of $1.2 million a year ago. They are expanding their networks across Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. ๐Ÿ“ˆ

  • Integrated Research manages data and systems like video conferencing, payments and contact centres for businesses too busy to do it themselves. It reported a net profit of $19.2 million on revenue of $91.2 million for the financial year ending 30 June 2018. But the revenue was flat on the prior year and we are watching this business. It's possible companies will get around to managing these systems themselves in the future. ๐Ÿค”

Check out more companies in your Spaceship Voyager app (if you have an investment in the Spaceship Universe Portfolio) or visit our website, if you'd like to get a better idea about the business models of these companies.

We think it will help you understand why we've decided to allocate some of the funds in the Spaceship Universe Portfolio in those companies.

Words by
Jessica Sier Right Chevron

Jessica Sier is a financial journalist. Prior to that she led content at Spaceship and was a reporter at the AFR where she discovered that breaking down financial jargon was a public good.

28.08.18 | Zoox and CEO oustings.