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New company for Telstra's emerging tech ambitions

Telstra has established a new subsidiary to drive its Global Applications and Platforms new and emerging technologies development business.
Written by Leon Spencer, Contributor

Telstra has established a new subsidiary company dedicated to its new and emerging technology-focused Global Applications and Platforms (GAP) unit.

Documents lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, first noticed by the AFR, show that Telstra incorporated the new subsidiary, Telstra Software Group, on August 8.
The new entity has been incorporated as a holding company for the telco's GAP unit, which was established in January to operate as a startup company within its innovation, products, and marketing division, focusing on investing in new and emerging technologies, and developing new applications for its customers.

Among GAP's projects are Telstra's local startup accelerator program Muru-D and Ooyala, a video-streaming and analytics platform for which it paid US$270 million earlier this month in order to attain a 98 percent stake in the Silicon Valley-based company.

"Telstra Software Group has been created to hold Global Applications and Platforms' interests including Ooyala and muru-D", a Telstra spokesperson said.

GAP is headed up by former VMware vice president for cloud services and Muru-D co-founder Charlotte Yarkoni, who is also listed as a founding director of the new holding company, along with Telstra global enterprise and services group executive Brendan Riley, and finance group managing director Cynthia Whelan.
Australia's largest telco has worked to diversify its business over recent years, expanding beyond a traditional telecommunications business to a fully fledged digital media company.

"Telstra is moving from providing mobile and internet services to encompassing applications and integrated services. This new software defined world presents many opportunities, not least the ability to move faster," said group managing director Kate McKenzie, in January.

Last week, Telstra CEO David Thodey said that the company's strategy behind its GAP operations was to drive the company's growth in software-driven businesses.

"GAP's strategy is to build new growth businesses and take advantage of the considerable growth in the software-driven business encompassing applications and integrated services. We have a dedicated team looking at these opportunities," said Thodey at the company's full year financial results briefing (PDF) on 14 August.
"In October 2013 we launched our startup incubator Muru-D to foster Australian technology innovation and this week announced the purchase of leading global video streaming company, Ooyala. By definition, software is a global business," he said. "These long term growth opportunities are very important as we lay the new growth foundations for the business."

Also on August 14, Telstra saw Muru-D reach the end of its inaugural six-month program, with the initial startup companies taken on the by the Sydney-based accelerator wooing potential investors during their final demo night last week.

According to Telstra, eight of the nine startups have received an injection of initial seed funding. The program is designed to provide business support, mentoring, and coaching for startups, along with AU$40,000 seed capital in return for a 6 percent stake in the company.

Earlier this month, Telstra announced that three of the nine Muru-D startups secured initial round funding of AU$150,000 — AU$50,000 each — from SYD Ventured.

Muru-D is already on the hunt for new startup hopefuls for its second intake, with the accelerator program officially opening up its next six-month "class" following last week's demo night.

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