This Apple backed founder thinks we need to rethink Australia's rigid economy
Written on the 16 August 2019 by David Simmons
As the founder of Blackmagic Design, Grant Petty (pictured) certainly knows a thing or two about running a business.
The company is one of Australia's most successful tech-plays in recent times. Founded in 2001 Blackmagic Design has been at the forefront of film and television ever since then with its varied suite of cameras, capture cards, software, and studio gear.
Petty's company also acquired the industry standard software called DaVinci Resolve in 2010 which is used by colour grading technicians worldwide.
Some of the more popular films and movies that used Blackmagic Design products this year include, A Star is Born, Avengers Infinity War, Bohemian Rhapsody and Captain Marvel to name a few.
Petty's company is an outlier in Australia, a country which does not have a reputation for fostering multinational tech companies in the way that California might.
It was thus a massive moment for Petty to be recognised on a global scale by Apple CEO Tim Cook during the Silicon Valley giant's Worldwide Developers Conference this year.
The company that revolutionised the mobile phone, and basically brought the Internet into our pockets, singled out Petty's Blackmagic Design as Apple's preferred partner for its post-production software to complement its new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR monitor targeting Hollywood and filmmakers alike.
It was a big moment for Blackmagic Design, now a leader in its field, but a moment that Petty says was not at all assisted by the way the Australian economy operates right now.
Speaking to Business News Australia, Petty says he is proud of what he has achieved with Blackmagic Design, but things need to change in Australia for more successful and creative businesses to thrive.
"Australia has a real problem with IP businesses," says Petty.
"IP businesses work really differently to property-based businesses and Australia's economy is essentially a property-based economy, and it is utterly hostile to IP based businesses. I can't think of the billions of dollars of lost income, and maybe even the whole economy on top of its self could have been added if Australia had embraced creativity."
"It's okay to be creative in Australia so long as you're not successful and correct. And that's the problem; I think there's just a whole group of businesses that never make it to the stock market because they're crushed by a group of business people here that don't really let them get into the market."
Unlike in Australia, Petty says that the US economy has nurtured and encouraged innovators like Steve Jobs to build businesses like Apple, and that's reflected in the way Apple connects to other smaller players too.
"One thing I found amazing about Apple is that small companies can connect to them and work with them very closely if they've got an interesting technology," says Petty.
"They're a company that's one of the biggest in the world and they can still connect to individuals."
"There's always been a close relationship between us that has always been there."
Petty says that Australia should look closely at how creative business is actually nurtured in places like California where it has been able to thrive.
"If you build a great product you will work with other companies like yours, it's just the nature of creativity," says Petty.
"They get this in California, it's what they do so well. Their economy is one of the biggest in the world and a lot of that economy is based on creativity. And the reason for that is because over in California investors invest in people and great ideas, whereas here they invest in the ownership of something and that's the fundamental difference."
"So, what happens here is the compliance regime, I call it the Compliance Industrial Complex, is all designed around protecting risk. The problem with that is you cut out anything that is risky, but that's what creativity is; creativity is risky. Absolutely."
But risk sometimes pays off. It certainly did for Petty, who runs a multinational tech company with offices based in California, the UK, Melbourne, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, and Osaka.
"Because we're in multiple countries we get a chance to see a pattern," says Petty.
"But the problem with Australians is that we have adopted a very neat, fixed, rigid philosophy on how things are done, and we've used that as a foundation for our thinking."
"Why do we lose so many IP based people? Why do we lose so many creative, inventive people? It's not a good thing. People always say, 'you have to go overseas to be successful'. Why? It's a global market! You can go to a global market from any country in the world! You don't need to be in America, you could be anywhere."
"I don't think anyone's asking enough questions about the things that we never had a chance to have, because we lost them."
Business News Australia
Author: David Simmons