Why doesn’t Australia have its own version of the Silicon Valley? Ajay Bhatia, the CIO & CPO of Carsales, chats with B&T about why he thinks disruption starts at rethinking the Australian culture not just disrupting technology.
Back in 1996, Carsales disrupted the automotive industry shifting the purchasing of vehicles online. As of July 2014, according to Forbes, the Australian company is worth $2.5 Billion and has expanded to other on-line classified offerings including bikes, boats, trucks, machinery, equipment and accessories.
“Australia had it very good for a very long time, we’ve had gold in the ground but now it’s drying up,” Bhatia told B&T. “We’ve got to realise that the real gold we have in this country is not any more in the ground, it’s actually the people that we have. It’s the talent of those people which we can exploit.”
“I look at countries like Israel, a country which has built an amazing start-up economy, an amazing digital culture and the economy as a result is benefiting from it. I look at the United States with Silicon Valley; you think of any large company today, more than likely it comes from the US.
“Then you look at Australia, we do have some really successfully digital start-ups such as Altassian and Carsales which has gone global. But in the US there’s a culture of celebrating success and failures, we really don’t have the culture of celebrating success or failure.
“We suffer from tall poppy syndrome in Australia.
“To change our culture we need to make the Greg Roebuck’s (Carsales founder) Mike Cannon Brookes (Altassian founder), Paul & Andrew Basaat (Seek founders) the rock stars. Just like everyone knows in our country who Tim Cahill or Shane Warne are, everyone (not just tech or startup community) should know these entrepreneurs taking Australia to the world are and aspire to be like them and celebrate them.”