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Nine unicorns down, many more to come

Paul Brislen, Editor. 08 April 2019, 1:10 pm

Callaghan Innovation's latest report - Growing the Pie - highlights the number of tech companies (broadly defined here to include the likes of A2 Milk) that have had an impact on the economy and says we now have nine billion-dollar companies, including Xero, A2 Milk, TradeMe and Rocket Lab.

Chief Executive Vic Crone outlines three areas in which she believes the entrepreneurs are not well understood or supported.

"The first is that we still seem to struggle with what success means. In more mature economies, a successful exit is almost always a cause for celebration." New Zealand, it seems, doesn't see an exit or an international sale as a success but Crone suggests these entrepreneurs are more likely to "grow another business, invest in new start-ups, or help to improve the lives of those in their community."

The second problem is that timing is often a major component of any decision to sell a company.

"Sometimes a sale occurs simply because it's better for the entrepreneur to move on to another, more promising, project. Or a sale may be the best opportunity for that idea or technology to scale and change the world."

Finally, she says New Zealand needs to realise how lucky we are to have entrepreneurs who make their money and in turn reinvest it in New Zealand.

"Even those who have made their fortunes overseas often find themselves wanting to return to their turangawaewae, to do their bit to help make it an even more special place than it already is."

The report singles out the nine billion dollar "unicorns" but also has an interesting list of the next wave of companies rising through the ranks, including the likes of Diligent, Pushpay, Fisher & Paykel and Vista among many others.

One thing that is interesting is the lack of pure IT companies - no sign of either Catalyst IT or Datacom on the list.

The full report can be found here.


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