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Praise, criticism for NZ technology industry

Mon 11 Jul 2011
FYI, this story is more than a year old

An American technology entrepreneur has praised New Zealand as boasting some ‘incredibly talented’ entrepreneurs, and suggested our country is ‘more attractive on the tech side’ compared with Australia.

In New Zealand for the ICE Ideas conference, hosted by business growth organisation Icehouse, PayPal founder Peter Thiel told the NZ Herald that New Zealand has the advantage of not being burdened by tradition.

Thiel has put his money where his mouth is too, investing $4 million into online accounting firm Xero last October and putting an undisclosed sum into Pacific Fibre in January.

In addition to founding PayPal, Thiel was one of the first investors in Facebook, putting in a half-million-dollar (US) stake in 2004 that is said to be worth over US$1 billion now.

However, his praise has drawn criticism from kiwi computer engineer and former Openwave Systems executive, Martin McKendry.

McKendry told Business Day that most New Zealand technology firms are lacking a global perspective, and are dealing with problems that are well or easily understood.

Although he acknowledges the presence of a raw talent of software engineering graduates, McKendry says they are working on the wrong stuff, and need to try to produce deeper technology.

McKendry adds that US investors always say they see potential, and that kiwi entrepreneurs may be naive in interpreting this praise.

Techday has recently reported on two kiwi technology successes - check out our story on GrabOne's successful first year here, or read about new online real estate website 200 Square here.

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