Coronavirus update for business: Queensland bids for Virgin Australia, crowdsourced COVIDSafe solutions, and UberEats cuts fees… a bit



Queensland makes airline bid

Queensland is looking to take a stake in Virgin Australia, following the troubled airline’s collapse into voluntary administration last month.

State-owned Queensland Investment Corporation is reportedly planning an official bid to help keep the airline afloat, either through an equity stake, a loan or other financial incentives.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said maintaining two airlines is “critical to Australia’s economy”.

At the same time, the move is intended to save jobs at Virgin Australia’s Queensland headquarters.

“We have an opportunity to retain not only head office and crew staff in Queensland, but also to grow jobs in the repairs, maintenance and overhaul sector and support both direct and indirect jobs in our tourism sector,” he said.

However, in a tweet, federal Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton called the move “laughable”.

“Premier Palaszczuk has almost bankrupted Queensland, and now in the middle of a crisis they want to buy an airline,” he wrote.

“She ‘leads’ a government which is corrupt and chaotic.”

“Everyone deserves to feel safe at home”

Adore Beauty has launched an initiative to support families affected by domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The e-commerce beauty brand has released a seven-piece kit of travel-sized products, with all proceeds going to the Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre.

Adore Beauty is also making a $10,000 donation to the charity.

“‘Stay home, stay safe’ has been the message during this pandemic. However for many women, home is the most dangerous place to be,” founder Kate Morris said in a tweet thread.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe at home, and now, more than ever, domestic violence victims need our help.”

Crowdsourcing for COVIDSafe

Aussie VC firm Right Click Capital is facilitating an outsourcing initiative, inviting the startup community to submit ideas to increase downloads of the government’s COVIDSafe app.

The plan is to draw on the expertise of entrepreneurs and innovators, many of whom are experienced in growing app downloads and encouraging utilisation. Right Click will submit the ideas to government representatives, offering up suggestions for getting the app on more mobiles.

So far, ideas range from incentives for downloads, including entry into a $10 million lottery, encrypting data and making it only acceptable to the owner and a multicultural community push, to mandatory downloads in order to enter public places, and a ‘badge of honour’ for those who install the app.

The initiative comes amid concerns from Labor minister Ed Husic about data from the COVIDSafe app being accessible to foreign authorities.

While many members of the Australian tech community have come out in support of the tracking app, others continue to express concern about the government’s questionable history when it comes to data privacy.

Not the time for Netflix-on-the-go

In the US, Quibi, a new streaming service offering short-form content to watch on the move, has fallen rather flat, having launched on April 6… in the middle of a crisis in which absolutely nobody is on the move.

Film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg raised almost US$1.8 billion to launch the service, and has stars such as Jennifer Lopez, Idris Elba, Chrissy Teigen and even Steven Spielberg involved.

But, while it was in the top 50 free iPhone apps list for about a week, its since slipped to number 125, behind all kinds of learning apps and games. That’s despite a 90-day free trial period.

“I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus,” Katzenberg said.

“Everything. But we own it.”

UberEats cuts concession fees… a bit

UberEats has finally bowed to pressure and reduced its commission fees for restaurants. But, it’s not exactly a change that’s going to turn restaurant owners’ lives around — the meal delivery giant has cut fees from 35% to 30%.

It follows rival DoorDash’s move last month to cut its own commission fees by 50%.

The food delivery sector has been under fire since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. Fees for restaurants on these platforms were already significant, and since the health and economic crisis took hold, they have become even more challenging.

Melbourne food writer Dani Valent launched a petition last month calling for UberEats and Deliveroo to reduce their commission charges. She called them “insupportable by restaurants and cafes who are already suffering greatly due to a huge drop in diners”.

Innovation boom on the way?

In startupland, Square Peg Capital is reportedly banking on a post-pandemic innovation boom, hiring former Startmate chief James Tynan to help manage the wave.

Square Peg founder Paul Bassat told The Australian Financial Review we could be looking at “the single most important time in terms of innovation in the last 20 years”.

Crisis breeds innovation, he said. And the next few years could prove to be the best time for investment since the mid-90s.

“Every time there’s been a major crisis, we’ve seen this burst of innovation occur where there’s a combination of problems needing to be solved as a result, as well as people having a chance to think differently about their career and their lives,” Bassat said.

NOW READ: ‘Giving money to UberEats doesn’t help the local economy’: How FairFeed is creating a hospitality movement

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