The digital business week

22 Feb 2010

A digest of the top business and technology news stories from the past week.

Aspera wins €225k ERP contract with La Rousse Foods

Irish enterprise software company Aspera has won a €225,000 contract over three years to supply an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to La Rousse Foods. The system will transform all areas of its business processes and bring operations management, productivity and customer service advantages. The system is being rolled out and the implementation is due to be completed in May. La Rousse Foods is a speciality food sales and distribution business that was originally established in 1991 by husband-and-wife team Mary Massy and Marc Amand. Both former chefs, they have grown the company to cater for the 32 counties of Ireland.

Google plans to become mobile HD video powerhouse

Google is to become a major player in the high-definition video from handheld devices market after closing its acquisition of On2 Technologies in a deal valued at US$124.6 million. The deal neared conclusion over the weekend after On2 shareholders voted in favour of the transaction. Since 1992, On2 Technologies, Inc has been innovating advanced video-compression technologies, contributing to some of the most pioneering video products and services from leading global brands and cutting-edge start-ups in web video, social networking, gaming, mobile and wireless, video conferencing and consumer electronic devices. The On2 acquisition will provide plenty of firepower to boost future iterations of the Google Android operating system, which is now shipping at the rate of 60,000 devices a day across a variety of manufacturers’ handsets.

Start-ups embark on their own trade mission to Silicon Valley

Three ambitious young start-up companies – Learnpipe, and imeeGOLF – have had enough of the doom and gloom, the Greek financial crisis, Willie O’Dea TD and the Hanger 6 debacle and took off to Silicon Valley over the weekend to meet some top dogs. “With all this negativity, there is a danger that we are overlooking the dogged resilience of large pockets of Irish business,” said John Dineen of Cork e-learning firm Learnpipe. “Yes, pretty much every sector in Ireland is feeling the pain. But let’s not forget that there is still large numbers of Irish start-ups who harbour serious ambitions to play on the world stage,” he said.

During their trip, they met with some of the region’s highest-profile technology companies, including Google and Sun Microsystems and pitched their businesses to some of the valley’s most respected venture capitalists. Selected from more than 500 applicants, all three companies are partaking in the Endeavour Programme, which is based out of the Tom Crean Centre in Tralee, Co Kerry.

Dell Q4 profits down 6pc, despite sales rise

 Dell has reported a 6pc fall in profits during the final three months of its 2009 financial year, although the US computer manufacturer’s results still managed to beat market expectations. Despite an increase in sales, low profit margins hit Dell’s earnings. Fourth-quarter profits were US$334 million, down from the US$351 million reported a year previous. Revenue during the three months to 29 January was up 11pc during the fourth quarter to US$14.9 billion compared to the same period in 2008. Dell said revenue in all of its business segments improved, thanks to the company having consolidated results from its US$11.8-billion acquisition of Perot Systems for the first time.

Venture-capital investors see potential in Irish software sector

The head of the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) has said that despite the economic challenges facing the country, his members believe Irish software companies still make solid, worthwhile investments. “Despite the challenges facing our economy, our members recognise the great potential in this sector,” said John Tracey, chairman of the IVCA. “Investing in software and other technology-focused companies encourages the employment of graduates and encourages greater exports and growth, thus leading to improved returns for all. Tracey was speaking at the launch of The Software Investment Forum, organised by the Irish Software Association’s Growth and Scale Working Group and the IVCA. The Irish software industry employs more than 10,000 people in more than 500 companies, with a combined sales of €1.4 billion, of which more than 70pc is exported, largely to the UK and US. Between 2008 and 2009, the ICT sector was one of few to grow employment numbers, seeing an increase of 3.4pc.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Tristan Geoghegan (left), finance manager, La Rousse Foods, and Lonan Byrne, managing director, Aspera Solutions

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years