I’ve worked exclusively in the sector as an ancient coder for decades, so as usual I was vaguely interested. Of course I’m far more interested in getting projects actually out of the door rather than inflating the value of the resulting products and services. So I usually can’t be arsed noticing or attending the ego splattering that invariably accompanies such announcements.
But my interest gets piqued when it gets into the economics and my tertiary interest in politics. This report was interesting.
Essentially the top 200 tech “exporters” (and basically you have to be an exporter in this industry – NZ is a teeny market) are now turning over NZD 9.4 billion, and this year increased by more that NZD 1 billion in revenue. Financially they grew by 12% this year which is pretty phenomenal bearing in mind the sluggish world economy is these days of an ageing world population and reducing population increases. It meant that they grew an additional 3000 odd jobs just in the top 200 sector companies.
Well ok, so there are some economic caveats on that ‘growth’ that simply aren’t mentioned in the press release. The NZD exchange rate has been way more favourable since the goddamn commodity dairy price dropped like a rock in a more competitive international market – as commodity products usually do. But in light of that obvious fact, you have to laugh at the pontificating of this rank drivel I (through my laughter) now just have to quote..
“In no previous year since the launch of the TIN100 Report 12 years ago, has change been so dramativ or widespread”, said TIN Managing Director, Greg Shanahan. “This year’s data signals that an inflexion point has been passed as the industry hits critical momentum, reflecting longer term acceleration of technology growth and a significiant closure of the export earnings gap between dairy and tech”.
Leaving aside that ‘Greg’ appears to have recently drunk the KoolAid from some terminal religious experience in a piss poor managerial course. A significiant proportion of the “closure” is from the crap prices for dairy and the consequent short-term (ie less than a few years) fall in the NZ dollar. However the tech industry is still providing a significiant boost to our economy as they keep winding up the exports.
Exports were about NZD 7 billion of that 9.4 billion. These exports are in worldwide market niches and across a wide variety of industries. The economic implication is that these overall exports tend to be rather robust. NZ tech companies kept growing through the GFC despite some rather painful capital constraints.
These days the top 200 tech companies employ about 40k highly paid employees across mainly urban NZ. They also tend to spread that revenue wealth widely amongst the local economy rather than leaking it directly into the hands of aussie bankers as mortgage and overdraft interest payments. Just the the revenue from coffee cups must be immensely useful in the local economy 🙂
Just to give an idea, just this small proportion of larger tech companies is now about the number employed in the whole anaemic dairy industry that this government likes to subsidise in its multitudinous ways.
But this isn’t the whole story. Most of my working life over the last few decades has been in startups and smaller companies that won’t be in the TIN200 companies. The top 200 companies are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of numbers of total revenue and number of employees. While it is kind of enjoyable to be in a larger company these days, there are a hell of a lot of companies and skills sitting behind wanting to get out there and to sell their exports to a world market. I tend to met them when I wander off looking for another interesting project.
Even the daft industry policies of this intellectually bereft government are merely constraining small tech companies growth. Damn good thing too as NZ becomes steadily more urbanised.