Geeks oust miners among Australia's new rich as boom fades

Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:39am EDT
 
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By Jane Wardell

SYDNEY (Reuters) - In a country synonymous with larger-than-life mining tycoons and Outback heroes, the geeks are quietly inheriting the earth.

As coal magnate Nathan Tinkler, the poster boy for Australia's fading 10-year minerals boom, publicly battles against bankruptcy, software entrepreneurs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar are riding high.

The former college buddies behind fast-growing software firm Atlassian unceremoniously bumped Tinkler off the top of Australia's "young rich list", leading a charge in the country's blooming technology industries.

The tech start-up and biotech sectors are at the forefront of a push to transform Australia from an exporter of iron ore to an exporter of ideas.

"It's a pretty primitive economy," said internet entrepreneur Matt Barrie. "We basically dig stuff up out of the ground, put it on a boat and ship it."

As part of ambitious plans to change that, the government has announced millions of dollars in new venture capital funding and large-scale reviews of the technology sector. A A$38 billion ($36.2 billion) National Broadband Network (NBN) will bring high-speed internet to almost all the 23 million population.

"As the rollout of the NBN continues, the capacity for start-up companies, particularly in the tech and digital sectors, to create game-changing businesses and applications is unprecedented," said Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

START-UP SUCCESS   Continued...

 
Entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-funder of software firm Atlassian gestures during a Reuters interview in central Sydney June 5, 2013. In a country synonymous with larger-than-life mining tycoons and Outback heroes, the geeks are quietly inheriting the earth. As coal magnate Nathan Tinkler, the poster boy for Australia's fading 10-year minerals boom, publicly battles against bankruptcy, software entrepreneurs Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar are riding high. Picture taken June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz