5 things you need to know in Australian tech today

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Alibab has been good for Blackmores and now the Chinese ecommerce giant is opening a Melbourne office. Photo: Getty Images

Good morning! It’s Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Alibaba’s global march continues. Jack Ma’s online trading platform, Alibaba, is opening an office in Melbourne in the next six months and group president Michael Evans is in Australia this week to sing the praises of the $US200 billion Chinese giant as it pushes towards a two billion customer base.

The business already has an impressive Australian client list of 1300 companies, including the likes of Blackmores, Fonterra, Jurlique, Penfolds and Woolworths on the Tmall sites, while Australia Post shipping wine via the Mandarin-only, business-to-business site 1688.com.

Chemist Warehouse is also playing in the space, which has 423 million buyers in China.

2. The Sol also rises. Remember Sol Trujillo? The American businessman ran Telstra between 2005 and 2009 – hardly a golden era for the telco – and when he left, described Australia as racist and like “stepping back in time”, although no doubt an $11 million pay packet helped protect him from some of that pain. He’s come back down under to join the board of telco start-up Unlockd as it sets up for further international expansion and a series B investment round.

Here’s the goss on the appointments.

3. It’s power Jim, but not as we know it. Business Insider sat down with Sydney startup Mojo Power recently for a fascinating conversation on the future of the energy industry, and the company, which is backing solar, has no doubt that home batteries are going to transform the way we generate and buy power.

How big is this? Huge, with batteries doing to the industry what the internet did to print media.

Change gonna come in 2-3 years, when the tech and price point reach a tipping point, and a decade on, expect the major players in the sector to be likes of Google, Telstra, LG and Volvo, not the existing silverbacks like Origin Energy and AGL.

Mojo’s not alone in its take – investment bank Morgan Stanley predicts one million Australian households will be using battery storage by 2020, 10% of the market, and 3 million in 20 years.

“We think the market continues to underestimate the potential for household battery uptake and the resultant reduction in demand for grid electricity,” Morgan Stanley says. “The preconditions are in place with a highly urbanised, high-income society facing some of the highest electricity costs in the world.”

Read the interview here.

4. Funding for TechSydney hasn’t gone to plan. The AFR reports that despite support from the likes of Atlassian, Canva and Blackbird Ventures, industry group TechSydney missed its $2 million fundraising target in the two months since its May launch is now aiming for a quarter of that figure – $500,000 to get the city into the top 10 rankings for startups.

Co-founder Mick Liubinskas is now seeking crowdfunding via Pozible, with the Fin revealing that some in the industry complained, anonymously, that what sort of bang they’d get for their sponsorship buck was unclear. So far their heading towards the first $100k, with an August 12 deadline and University of Technology Sydney due to tip in $250,000 in corporate sponsorship.

The details are here.

5. Welcome your new federal overlords. Re-elected PM Malcolm Turnbull revealed his new ministry yesterday – it’s being sworn in today – and former innovation, science and industry minister Chris Pyne has gone, replaced by former environment minister Greg Hunt. Craig Laundy is his 2IC, replacing assistant innovation minister Wyatt Roy, who lost his seat.

Robert Read, CEO of ASX-listed medtech co. MedAdvisor told BI that Hunt was a strong choice and gave him a good rap.

“Greg is a smart operator and understands the innovation agenda well, he has a broad background including working at consultants McKinsey & Company and from my personal experience with Greg, I feel that he will be able to set the right pace for the Government,” he said.

A Nationals MP, Michael McCormack, got small business, but the role is now out of the Cabinet. COSBOA isn’t happy, but the PM argues everyone’s a small business minister.

Victorian senator Mich Fifield keeps his gig as Comms minister. Here’s the full ministerial list so you know who to start lobbying. Good luck.

BONUS ITEM: Kimye V Tay Tay? Grabs popcorn. Finally, the reason social media exists became apparent yesterday, as Kim Kardashian took to Snapchat to bag Taylor Swift, who bit back on Twitter. Yes, it’s all rather silly, but the heady mix of power, money and ego, combined with a feud dating back to 2009’s “I’mma let you finish” moment by Kardashian’s husband, Kanye West. Tay Tay’s even called in the lawyers. Passes popcorn…

Have a great day. I’m on Twitter at @simonthomsen

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