Honoured to have Matt participate on the vlog today!
Matt is an Australian investor, tech entrepreneur & one of the three original founders of SEEK Ltd., alongside Paul and Andrew Bassat, Rockman took SEEK from a business plan to become one of Australia’s most successful online businesses.
SEEK is an ASX Top 100 Listed company with a market capitalisation of $4 Billion, and with businesses in the UK, China, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.
On todays vlog we talk about the investor landscape, what is current status, what is Matt currently seeing +what advice can be given.
Enjoy the vlog 🙂
Tobi Skovron: Hey, guys. Welcome back to the vlog. This one is a little bit different because my guest over here is, or was the founder-
Matt Rockman: One of.
Tobi Skovron: One of the founders of SEEK. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, marketplace, huge marketplace. Matt Rockman, aka that man.
Matt Rockman: There’s a story behind that.
Tobi Skovron: Yeah. I’d love to hear it. So building up a little bit of an audience here for people that love business, disruption, entrepreneurship, everything that you’ve been able to do resonates with them. They just haven’t met you probably until now. Do you wanna just give us a bit of a history?
Matt Rockman: Yeah. Thanks Tobi, and really first of all, congratulations. What you’re doing with Cubes, I think it’s a great initiative.
Tobi Skovron: Thank you.
Matt Rockman: I met Tobi in Los Angeles in a co-working space. So that was obviously part of his inspiration. Tobi’s also a great entrepreneur, so respect there, mate.
Tobi Skovron: Thank you man.
Matt Rockman: I mean, I started with Paul and Andrew Basset, the two brothers, back in ’07. You know, sort of three young guys with a plan. It was somewhat obvious. I wouldn’t say pretty obvious. It was somewhat obvious that the internet was just a better way to interact with classified advertising. You know, three young guys with not a lot to lose, so to speak, in terms of pretty young, started out, raised some money, and started to execute.
So a little walk through that process, and I was with SEEK. I was the first founder to leave, left after 10 years. I was responsible for revenue and marketing in the early days. Yeah, so it was an amazing journey, amazing schooling, and got a chance to work with some truly exceptional team.
Tobi Skovron: Yep.
Matt Rockman: And since then I’ve sort been playing the angel investor. I was working with SquarePeg over in Los Angeles when I met you.
So done a lot of venture investing and early stage investing. So I think I’ve got a bit of a feel for the space. Getting a bit older these days, and probably a little bit more cynical. And there’s probably some key takeaways that I’ve learnt, and one of them is, I get to see thousands decks, or hundreds maybe, not thousands.
You know, one is probably that I go back to every founder, and they just under cook the competition, the level of competition. I get the why on that because it’s not really in a founder’s interest to go out there and comb the globe and turn over every rock to find masses of competition to put that in the deck toward the investor. It’s all in their interest.
Tobi Skovron: But it’s very interesting as an investor. So firstly, like I wanna circle back on the SEEK challenges, but not now ’cause we’re on a different path.
Matt Rockman: That’s vlog number 200.
Tobi Skovron: Yeah, well, I think that there’s a lot of things that you and I have discussed over lunch in LA around the dotcom bust and servers going down.
There’s a whole bunch of stuff that I wanna circle back to ’cause I think that people would really get a tremendous amount of value from that, but I wanna know, from me as an entrepreneur to you as an investor, people go, did I, looking at this specifically, ’cause this is really like the first product or business set I haven’t been first in my category to launch, not necessarily the winner takes all, but when I came back to Australia, I actually said, “I actually don’t give a shit who’s doing what out there. I’m hyper-focused on delivering my vision and my mission.” Do you think that that is a point of weakness for me as a founder?
Matt Rockman: No, I think we’re talking slightly differences, and it’s in the nuance, right?
What I’m talking about is a founder/entrepreneur, not disclosing and not knowing of the competition. That’s different from saying, “I think I’ve got a better mousetrap, or a better value proposition therefore, I’m gonna go to a competitive landscape, and I think I’m gonna get share.” That’s quite a different.
What I’m saying is, so many decks I see from A round guys, C guys, just is not built out in the competitive heat map. They just don’t know who else is out there, and often what happens is you write a cheque, or I hear of people writing a cheque. And then all of a sudden, you see all these-
Tobi Skovron: me-too’s
Matt Rockman: Yeah, you see all these me too businesses, and you find it’s a very competitive environment where perhaps that team didn’t think of walls. So that’s a big miss.
Tobi Skovron: But is that a NDD from a VC perspective? Is that a miss? Or that a step, or a piece of ignorance or arrogance?
Matt Rockman: Yeah, look, I think it’s both. I think it’s-
Tobi Skovron: From the founder?
Matt Rockman: Yeah, I think it’s part on the founder and part on the investor. The investor should do their DD, and one of the key parts to the DD apart from the economics, apart from on the founder and the team themselves and the overall market space, is what’s the competitive dynamic?
What’s the competitor set? You need to know that before you write a cheque, but also as a founder, I don’t think you should operate in a vacuum of naivety. You need to know who else is out there.
Tobi Skovron: 100%.
Matt Rockman: And as you’ve said with Cubes mate, you’re very aware of what your strike points are. That makes you a great entrepreneur and a great deliverer of a proposition. If you’re going in just blind willy, you really should be doing your homework.
Tobi Skovron: 100%. Some of the stuff we talk about here at Creative Cubes, I’m interested in your position on it, competition is a huge thing, but we don’t look at competition like in total sincerity.
We don’t look at it because we are of the mindset that whatever the competition is, we’re trying to push ourselves into our own lane where we break free of any competition.
Matt Rockman: What we’re talking about now is market dynamic.
Tobi Skovron: Sure.
Matt Rockman: And some markets lend themselves to be more fragmented than others, and this is perhaps a marketplace where it can support many, many levels, many different offerings, right? And everybody coexists and do well. There are other market dynamics. You know, SEEK is a great example. There are others where it really is an advantage in favour of the winner takes all.
Tobi Skovron: 100%, and the reason why I think that there’s a huge point of difference there is ’cause I can right mouse click, open new window, and I can go to whoever SEEK’s competitor is.
By the way, I have no idea.
Matt Rockman: There isn’t any, but anyway.
Tobi Skovron: But here, and I make the argument that even the guy that has a co-working space half a kilometer away, is … we’re not trying to get … So I look at retail products. I’m not going to a buyer that has a certain amount of retail shelf and say, “Pick me. Pick me. Pick me.” I am X amount of meters, kilometers away-
Matt Rockman: You’ve got this capacity, whereas websites tend to have unfixed capacity, naively speaking.
Tobi Skovron: Totally, but I think that the consumer that is in South Yarra is not a consumer.
Matt Rockman: No. So you’re more regionalized whereas world wide web.
Tobi Skovron: Yeah.
Matt Rockman: So you know, I just think it’s incumbent upon great entrepreneurs and great investors to tease out, articulate, and be very clear on the competition set.
Tobi Skovron: Yep.
Matt Rockman: That’s probably my point.
Tobi Skovron: And do you think … okay. So now escalating from there, you spent a couple years in Los Angeles. You’ve seen the greats in Silicon Valley, in Silicon Beach. How does Australia compare in terms of the landscape of entrepreneurship, tech, disruption?
Matt Rockman: Yeah, I think Aussies are great entrepreneurs. I think we’re inherently optimists.
We’re a small country by population, massive landscape. We’re very much a first world country. We’re super innovative. There’s so many data points on that. So I think there are a lot of things that really propel us forward and make us great entrepreneurs, and so we like to work for ourselves.
We’re quite a creative nation. We like to do our own thing. We’re not nearly as big because of the scale going. The US is 10x us on whether it be population. GDP’s like 12x. I think they’re the numbers.
Matt Rockman: So we don’t have scale. We certainly don’t have the history of aeronautics that created Silicon Valley. So you know, we probably don’t have that legacy. Our ecosystem whether it be venture, whether it be angels, whether it be even startups, is a lot younger. We probably don’t have the government having their act together. I mean, look at the MBM for example. That’s an initiative. That’s an infrastructure initiative which has just bounced around the joint.
Tobi Skovron: But even that, so I don’t know enough about it because I’ve come back. I think you were back a year before me. So maybe it was like … I’ve just come back and gotten into it. I haven’t really thought about it, but do you think we should have gone satellite versus copper in the ground?
Matt Rockman: Tobi, I don’t know. I just think if we wanna be competitive we’ve gotta have these key infrastructures.
Tobi Skovron: Sure.
Matt Rockman: And if you look at … You know, you’ve got financial incentives. You can’t have a brain drain. So similar limitations around our immigration. You’ve gotta have institutions that are conducive to education. So do we have all the strike points? I think we know what they are. I’m just not sure we’ve been able to deliver, execute them as a nation from a governmental perspective.
Tobi Skovron: Yep. Very cool. So guys, I don’t wanna overwhelm you. I’m gonna have Matt back for two, three, four segments.
Matt Rockman: Yeah, next week isn’t it?
Tobi Skovron: Next week in real time. It’s actually in a couple minutes, but-
Matt Rockman: Tobi’s got a time machine.
Tobi Skovron: We’re gonna … I’d love to talk more about the market, opportunities, what you see, what you’re hearing, trends. I’m just hoping that someone’s listening and decides to do something about some of the knowledge that we’re dropping here. Are you on … You’re on Twitter ’cause I follow you on Twitter.
Matt Rockman: I’m MattRockman1.
Tobi Skovron: Yeah.
Matt Rockman: Yep.
Tobi Skovron: I’ll drop in a link in the descriptions below. Are you on LinkedIn?
Matt Rockman: Yeah, I am on LinkedIn.
Tobi Skovron: I know the answers. I’m just trying to … I’ll tag Matt in the descriptions below. So if you have something that’s of interest, you’ll be able to reach him.
So thank you. We’ll be back in 30 seconds with segment two. No really, probably next week.