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Meet Australia's newest unicorn SafetyCulture, the $1.3 billion company backed by former PM Malcolm Turnbull

·4-min read
  • SafetyCulture is Australia's newest unicorn, valued at $1.3 billion.

  • The company has an app that provides safety checklists for businesses and offers products like temperature sensors for fridges and freezers.

  • The billion-dollar valuation comes after a funding round led by TDM Growth Partners – which has backed fellow unicorn Culture Amp – and included Blackbird Ventures and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Say hello to Australia's newest unicorn – a private startup worth over $1 billion.

SafetyCulture secured $60.5 million in funding, taking its valuation to $1.3 billion and entering into Australia's unicorn club alongside tech companies Canva, Culture Amp and Atlassian.

SafetyCulture founder Luke Anear isn't getting caught up on the achievement however.

"[I] don't really think about that too much to be honest," he told Business Insider Australia. "It's business as usual for us."

Anear launched the company in Townsville in 2004 and it now has teams in Sydney, Townsville, Kansas City, Manchester and Manila. SafetyCulture has an iAuditor app that provides checklists companies can use to ensure they're meeting safety requirements. It has also expanded its services to include products such as temperature sensors for fridges and freezers.

With this new funding, SafetyCulture plans to reward early employees, hire more people and ramp up its product development.

SafetyCulture employees who have been with the company longer than three years – roughly 10% of the workforce – were given the chance to cash out as much as 30% their vested equity in the firm, given to employees as part of their compensations. Overall, more than half of the latest funding was made available to employees who sold a portion of their shares to investors.

Anear said sharing this funding event with employees was "very special".

"It's the first time since Atlassian did it in 2012, where you've seen a private company allow the staff [to] participate in a funding round and sell some of their equity," he said. "So I think it's a very proud moment for me to see our team be rewarded for the hard work that they've put into building the company."

Anear said it has been a "life-changing amount of money" for employees who chose to participate. He said he received messages from employees saying they cried because they told their kids they don't owe the bank any money. "Other people have had their partners lose their jobs through the COVID-19 crisis and they're not worried [anymore]," he added. "Others were putting off starting a family but they can now do that because they're financially in a good position."

Several Australian capital firms invested in SafetyCulture

The funding round was mainly led by Australian investors including TDM Growth Partners – which backed fellow unicorn Culture Amp, Blackbird Ventures – the team behind plant-based meat company Fable -- and Skip Capital, the investment firm founded by Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar and his wife Kim Jackson's investment firm.

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and wife Lucy are also investors in the business. "Malcolm's obviously always been a great advocate for the tech industry and certainly for Australia's tech community," Anear said.

"When he reached out and expressed an interest in getting to know the team and having a look at the business, I was more than happy to spend some time to get to know him. He's a very down to earth, humble guy and he's very easy to talk to and work with. I look forward to working with him more in the future as well."

All up, SafetyCulture has raised more than $150 million since 2014. "The future is incredibly bright for SafetyCulture and we are excited to now be sharing that journey with them for many years to come," Hamish Corlett, partner at TDM Growth Partners said in a statement.

Anear added that the company is going to keep building a broader platform beyond its app.

"We're expanding from a checklist app which was iAuditor to also provide incident reporting and training for teams," he said. "We're working very hard on fast-tracking those products so that our customers can use incident reporting and training during COVID-19."

The company is also exploring new product ventures.

"We're now also looking at telematics to help them monitor their fixed and mobile assets," Anear said. "We want to be able to pull data from many different sources and become a data platform instead of just a checklist app. That's the direction we're moving."

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