The digital business week

4 Jul 2011

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

Irish companies achieve exports of €14bn – 70pc recovery rate

Irish exports showed a strong rebound in 2010, with a recovery of 70pc of the exports that were lost in 2009, Enterprise Ireland said last week.

Irish companies achieved exports of €14bn, including a record €1.95bn in new export sales.

In its annual report, Enterprise Ireland said all of Ireland’s key industry sectors recorded growth in total export sales, including life sciences, clean tech, electronics, engineering, construction and timber, education services and software. Of particular note was the food sector, which is Ireland’s biggest indigenous industry, growing exports by 11pc.

MySpace sold for a mere US$35m

Once the most promising property in the emerging social media scene, MySpace – which News Corp bought in 2005 for US$580m – has been sold to online ads giant Specific Media for just US$35m.

It is understood that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp had been hoping to attract a price tag of US$100m but it was not to be.

News Corp will retain a 5pc stake in the social networking site.

Specific Media specialises in brokering online advertising space and is one of the largest online advertising firms in the US with 79pc of unique US users, or 170.9m unique visitors.

“Over the next few days, you will be hearing from the team at Specific, including their CEO, Tim Vanderhook, regarding their exciting plans for MySpace and how it fits in with the overall vision of their company,” MySpace CEO Mike Jones had written in an email to staff.

Nortel sells remaining patents for $4.5bn

A consortium of six companies, including Apple and Microsoft, have purchased bankrupt telecommunications firm Nortel’s remaining patent portfolio for $4.5bn (€3bn).

The other consortium members are Sony, EMC, Ericsson and Research In Motion.

The sale marks the last major assets to be sold by Nortel.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009 and obtained a court order this past week to extend its bankruptcy protection to 14 December. The company has been selling assets since early 2009 and has raised about $3.2bn (€2.2bn).

HMV to shift focus after posting losses of £121.7m

Entertainment retailer HMV has announced plans to shift its focus to ticketing, digital products and live events, after a “difficult and turbulent year”, which resulted in it posting losses last week of £121.7m for the 53 weeks to 30 April after recording a profit of £49.2m the previous year.

The company said the group’s pro forma profit before tax and exceptional items declined by 61pc to £28.9m, on revenues which decreased by 7pc to £1,868.3m. Adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations fell by 67pc to 3.8pc.

Twitter co-founder steps aside

Twitter co-founder Isaac “Biz” Stone is moving away from the microblogging site to help schools, advisory boards, and non-profit organisations.

Stone, 37, said on his blog he will continue working with Twitter, but the most effective use of his time now is to “get out of the way” of the company’s staff and leadership team.

Stone is also relaunching Obvious Corp with fellow Twitter co-founder Evan Williams to develop new projects.

Kazuo Hirai hands over PlayStation CEO role to Andrew House

Kazuo Hirai, head of the PlayStation unit at Sony, is handing over the role to the head of the European PlayStation unit Andrew House, leaving Hirai as chairman.

Speaking to Reuters, a Sony spokesperson said the changes were not connected to the recent hacking of the PlayStation Network.

Welsh-born Andrew House will take over as the unit’s new president and CEO from 1 September.

Hirai, who also has control over all of Sony’s consumer businesses, will become chairman of the video game unit.

The move is not seen as a setback for Hirai, as he is still the forerunner to become head of Sony after the current CEO, Howard Stringer, retires. Analysts believe Hirai was pulled out of that role in order to focus on succeeding 69-year-old Stringer.

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