Last week I had an article published in the Rust Report about Australia’s attitude to innovation, risk and entrepreneurism:
Rust Report: Why are we taxing risk instead of rewarding it?
I urged the Federal Government to relax some of the tax rules around share options to encourage more investment and risk. The argument for this has been made most strongly by Business Spectator journalist Paul Wallbank in this article earlier this year: “Is Australia Open for Start-up Business“. I spoke to Paul on Twitter about the topic and he referenced a blog post he had also written about investment capital investment, entitled “Counting the Cost of Investors.” In it he wrote: “For founders, the tricky balance in raising enough money to achieve their objectives while not giving away a controlling interest.
— Paul Wallbank (@paulwallbank) April 7, 2014
He makes an excellent point about another general malaise in Australian Innovation – short-termism among the investment community. I agree with Future Fund Chairman David Gonski who told an Australian Securities and Investment Commission dinner last year that “Sadly, in Australia, we live in a world of Short Termism”. This is where we also differ from the far preferable climate in The Bay Area and Silicon Valley where companies are able to take a much longer view around building their product, proposition and customer base before being required to return gains. They also have far greater controls over their destiny – it is my undertanding that investors there prefer to advise more than control.
We need to give our entrepreneurs more room to move for them to succeed and without that room it is far harder to achieve what is already a difficult challenge.
As a post-script, this is an interesting article by Marc Andreessen about how the investment culture of Silicon Valley versus elsewhere in the US: Beware Non-Silicon Valley Investors.