As written by Paul Smith, Australian Financial Review 3/04/21 –
Fast-growing Australian technology company SafetyCulture has blasted through the $2 billion valuation mark following one of the largest venture capital funding rounds of the year, led by New York-based Insight Partners.
The Townsville-founded company first achieved the highly prized “unicorn” status of a billion-dollar valuation a year ago. But it has grown significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, as enterprises around the world look to its software platform and flagship iAuditor product to ensure offices can comply with the standards required for a return to work.
The funding round was closed at $99 million, with Insight making its second huge investment in an Australian technology company in recent times, after its $221 million investment in Brisbane-based Octopus Deploy.
The funding will enable the company to expand the services available on its platform, expand more internationally and kick the need for an initial public offering further down the road.
Unlike the Octopus Deploy funding round, Insight did not make up the whole investment in SafetyCulture itself, with existing international investors Tiger Global and Index Ventures and Australia’s Blackbird Ventures also buying in again.
Other earlier investors in the company include TDM Growth Partners, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy and Skip Capital, the investment vehicle of Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar and his wife Kim Jackson.
“We continue to invest in building on our product platform. That’s the number one priority for us, and it always feels like we’ve only built 1 per cent of what we’re here to do,” SafetyCulture founder and CEO Luke Anear told The Australian Financial Review in a video call alongside Insight Partners managing director Teddie Wardi.
“Insight is one of the top five software investors in the world, so having the support of Teddie and the team allows us to focus on building out the platform and then starting to look a bit more at marketing and building a brand than we have done before.”
Like many in the tech sector Mr Anear’s initial fears that the COVID-19 pandemic would be a disaster were way off the mark, with new customer numbers surging and the company raising two separate funding rounds totalling $109 million.
While SafetyCulture’s flagship product remains its iAuditor workplace checklist app, Mr Anear said its product had expanded to be a more general workplace platform for its clients. It also diversified by acquiring online training business EdApp last September and formed a separately run joint venture insurance business with QBE called Mitti.
“COVID taught us how important our products are to our customers. It really highlighted the need to be able to manage risk in the workplace and to be able to share information very quickly across teams,” he said.
“We saw some of our customers in aviation and hospitality take a big hit during COVID, and we did all we could to support them, but then we saw other industries like freight and logistics that went through the roof.
“We are kind of riding the wave now as the world is reopening, and we are now seeing those industries start to come back online, in addition to the increased usage we’ve seen across everywhere else. So for us COVID has been a net gain.”
He said he viewed SafetyCulture as having multiple future growth opportunities, including an as-yet-untapped wealth of customer data that was growing in detail every day.
“One key thing about SafetyCulture compared to many other software companies is that it’s a very global opportunity. Customers come from everywhere,” Mr Wardi said.
“I think that the team is only scratching the surface in terms of the opportunity out there. Also, the journey from product to platform is a big one, so the functionality they can add, even through requisitions, is immense.”
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