Former head of Twitter NYC’s engineering organisation, Adam Schuck, has joined a growing number of leading Australian tech stars returning home in search of quality of life and sunshine – and founding a new generation of Sydney tech start-ups in the process.
Having served time in the fast pace of New York and Silicon Valley, Adam has come back to Sydney to co-found Lexy.io with ex-UNSW mate Alex North. The company will be based jointly in Sydney and Silicon Valley when it launches in a few months’ time, with co-founder Mick Johnson – previously Head of Product for Facebook mobile – heading up American operations.
With two of the three co-founders having young families, the potential for work/life balance with access to great beaches was a big draw card.
“Having sold multiple start-ups in the US, and after holding senior roles at Google, Facebook and Twitter, my co-founders and I felt the timing was right to build our next venture supported by the growing Sydney ecosystem,” said Adam Schuck.
“From Sydney, we can tackle a global problem with a global market, yet benefit from world-class local talent, government support and a great lifestyle.”
In the past, founding a tech startup mid-career was considered a risky business, with start-up ecosystems like Silicon Valley seen as the preserve of young college dropouts. Now Sydney is seeing an increasing number of people founding tech companies in their mid-thirties.
The influx of internationally experienced people from other worldwide tech ecosystems in the last year or two is having a beneficial impact on Sydney’s tech ecosystem. Combine this with the NSW Government’s recent announcement of a 15,000 square metre tech hub, and Sydney’s tech scene seems poised for success.
Founding or joining a start-up mid-career in Sydney is increasingly seen as the career move of choice for professionals Lexy Team (left to right) Mick Johnson, Alex North, Michael Hills, Adam Schuck – and when you look at the statistics, it’s easy to see why.
In 2015, the federal government’s Innovation System Report revealed that in the five years from 2008, start-ups and innovation companies in Australia hired 1.4 million people. In that same period, established companies lost 400,000 jobs.
From 2004/05 – 2010/11, Australian businesses added $440 billion (net) to the economy and $164 billion of that came from start-ups. This has left many professionals asking whether it’s more risky not to take the plunge and found a start-up.
Home-grown talent is also getting in on the act with a number of former high-flying executives starting first-time tech start-ups in Sydney.
Rebekah Campbell co-founded her first tech start-up, Hey You, four years ago. The former record company owner has an 11-month-old daughter and thinks Sydney is the perfect place for tech-founders who are out of their twenties.
“Sydney is really family-friendly and, for me, that made it the right place to found a high-impact tech start-up now.
“It didn’t seem like a risk – you can be working for a major company and be made redundant or be unhappy there so you might as well do something you love.
“I took much sillier risks in my early twenties – now I do my research so I know what I’m getting into. Having a family made me want to make a more positive impact on the world. I want to spend my time making a difference, not standing still.”