Trevor St Baker
Trevor St Baker

Size matters: Rich listers do battle over $10K bet

You might call it the clash of the Rich Listers.

Billionaire tech titan Mike Cannon-Brookes and Brisbane energy kingpin Trevor St Baker have got a $10,000 bet over which of them is the bigger financial backer of renewable power.

St Baker, who has a fortune estimated at about $650 million, claimed last week in a media interview that he was "investing more than anyone in Australia directly into renewables, into this transition, mainly through the transport sector and through battery investments''.

That caught the eye of Cannon-Brookes, the Sydney-based co-founder of Atlassian, who subsequently posted a challenge on Twitter. "Really?! Trevor, I bet $10k (charity of your choice) that's not true mate! Got proof?,'' he wrote.

St Baker gladly took the wager on Monday, telling City Beat that he's got more than $500 million committed to a raft of clean-energy initiatives.

He stressed that his direct investments include more than $100 million in electric car charging manufacturer Tritium and nearly the same amount in Evie Networks, which is building a chain of charging stations across the country.

Cannon-Brookes is a greenie who has tipped quite a bit into a number of eco ventures, most notably the planned $20 billion Sun Cable solar farm in the NT which has also attracted support from Fortescue Metals boss Andrew "Twigggy'' Forrest.

But he's not a seasoned player in the space like St Baker, who built up ERM Power into one of the nation's leading energy providers before Shell bought it last year for $607 million.

Sydney-based co-founder of Atlassian Mike Cannon-Brookes.
Sydney-based co-founder of Atlassian Mike Cannon-Brookes.

 

 

"Mike Cannon-Brooke's parading around as an expert on the energy sector is a joke….It shows the absence of depth of his knowledge of the energy business,'' St Baker sniffed.

"But if he wants to bet that other individuals in Australia have more than $500 million in direct investments in these areas then he might come up with the names.''

St Baker told us he already donates generously to St Vinnies to help homeless women and he'd be happy for Cannon-Brookes to write them a cheque for $10,000.

But Cannon-Brookes isn't backing down, according to his spin doctor.

"Mike's personal fund is over $1 billion in investments made and growing fast. At least two-thirds of that is sustainability related. And $0 is in coal,'' he said.

PUMPED UP

Speaking of hi-tech, you can't blame Brisbane young gun entrepreneur Jordan Grives for feeling pretty pumped up.

The Ferrari-driving dynamo sold his Fone Dynamics messaging and call analytics business in April last year to South Australian internet services provider Uniti Wireless in a deal worth up to $8.4 million.

He also joined Uniti's executive team--and the gamble has clearly paid off.

Uniti announced a whopping $532 million takeover last week of its rival OptiComm, paving the way for creation of one of Australia's biggest telcos.

Jordan Grives sold his Fone Dynamics business last year.
Jordan Grives sold his Fone Dynamics business last year.


Amazingly, Uniti only listed early last year and, once the merger with OptiComm is complete, it's expected to create a $1 billion colossus set to challenge NBN in the broadband arena.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd be here so quickly,'' Grives, 31, gushed in a posting to LinkedIn. "What a bloody amazing journey so far."

 

Grives first gained notoriety back in 2016 when he pocketed nearly $30 million from the sale of his Fonebox enterprise to US internet services firm J2 Global.

VIRAL VICTIM

A start-up incubator at QUT has fallen victim to the coronavirus-driven downturn.

Creative Enterprises Australia, which has been active for 12 years and had two investment funds, will wind down operations by the end of September.

Loads of entrepreneurs, including the gang at TrademarkVision, benefited from CEA, which also did work in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

CEA boss Mark Gustowski told us on Monday that some of the group's core activities may be integrated elsewhere in the uni.

"Covid has really affected the whole landscape of the start-up space. We're collateral in all that, which is disappointing,'' he said.

Originally published as Size matters: Rich listers do battle over $10K bet



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