The digital business week

24 May 2010

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

Video interview site Sonru raises €272k in venture capital

A new service that allows firms to hold video interviews with job applicants has raised €272,000 in venture investment from a number of sources, including Kernel Capital, the Bank of Ireland Seed Fund, BES funding and angel investment.

The news comes days after Sonru, headed by Fergal O’Byrne, signed an exclusive partnership with which will enable the site to become the first of its kind in Ireland to offer online video interviewing. The announcement was made in Cork by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe TD.

“This investment is a validation of our business plan and our business model,” O’ Byrne, CEO of Sonru Ltd, explained. “The funds will help us to develop our product range and to source and sign new resellers. We have an aggressive growth strategy and this investment by the Bank of Ireland Seed Fund will help to deliver it.”

Some €100,000 of the investment came from the Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Investment Fund and the remaining €172,000 in funds was raised through private BES and angel investment sourced by the company.

New CEO takes the helm at IBM in Ireland

IBM has named Peter O’Neill as chief executive of the company in Ireland. O’Neill succeeds Michael Daly who is retiring after eight years as CEO.

Daly successfully oversaw the transformation of the company into one of the most diverse multinationals now operating in Ireland.

Prior to taking up this role, O’Neill served as director of IBM Sales and Distribution in Ireland. He joined IBM in 1981.

During his IBM career, he has held a series of sales and finance leadership positions in both Europe and America, including financial controller of the IBM Technology Campus, Mulhuddart.

Dell Q1 profits soar, sees corporate IT revival

US computer manufacturer Dell has reported a 52pc jump in net profits during the first three months of 2010, with the company pointing to the early stages of a corporate IT refresh.

Net profits during the January to the end of March period were US$441m, up from the US$290m reported during the same period in 2009.

Earnings per share of US$0.30 for the first quarter were better than the US$0.27 which had been predicted by Wall Street analysts.

Total revenue for the first quarter also beat expectations and was up 21pc to US$14.9bn compared to the same period in 2009.

Dell said the results reflected the combination of Dell and Perot Systems and “sound” company execution in an “overall improving” business environment. Dell acquired IT services provider Perot Systems last September for US$3.9bn.

Digital Reach Group raises €500,000 – 10 new jobs on way

One of Ireland’s internet pioneers with the country’s first ISP and the man who kicked off the online advertising business in Ireland Colm Grealy has raised €500,000 for his latest venture Digital Reach Group, enabling the company to double its staff to 20 people.

Pageant Holdings, a company led by Peter O’Grady Walshe, is taking a minority stake in Digital Reach Group, which is leading the charge in terms of digital media advertising on the latest handsets and tablet devices.

Speaking with, Grealy said the nine-month-old company has achieved revenues so far of €1m and expects to be profitable in mid-2011.

Pageant Holdings has interests in a number of Irish and European businesses, including Xtra-vision. With the €500,000 investment deal, Pageant Holdings will take a minority stake in DRG and Walshe, the director, will join the board of DRG as a non-executive director.

“DRG provides the services and tools that allow businesses to take advantage of the mobile internet’s potential, an increasingly critical media platform,” Walshe said. “The management team’s proven track record in the both internet and mobile sectors marks DRG out as a company with very significant promise for continued growth.”

O2 Ireland to create 100 new jobs

A new European People Services Centre in Dublin means that Telefónica, O2’s parent company, is to create 100 new jobs by the end of next year.

O2’s headquarters in Dublin’s Docklands will be home to the centre, which represents an investment of €25m over five years.

IDA Ireland, Telefónica Europe and the team in Telefónica O2 Ireland worked together to attract this investment to Ireland and IDA Ireland is assisting with the set up of the new operation.

The new operation will provide HR services, support functions and administration to the 27,900 Telefónica Europe employees, in their respective local languages.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe TD, has said this announcement shows Ireland is open for business and winning major foreign direct investments.

Steady demand for IT pros but salaries flat – survey

Demand for IT professionals in Ireland was steady during the first quarter of the year but the effects of the recession kept salaries at last year’s levels, a new report from the recruitment firm Robert Walters Ireland suggests.

Although IT wage rates stayed largely flat so far this year, Robert Walters said companies are prepared to pay a 10-15pc premium to land a preferred candidate where the job calls for a particularly technical skill set or combination of experience. On the other side of the equation, people looking for IT jobs kept their pay expectations open in order to compete for available roles.

The report identified three areas where there are more candidates than jobs – technical support, project management and Windows support. The competition for places means that hiring managers are being extremely specific in their requirements in order to identify the strongest prospects, Robert Walters said.

Photo: Peter O’Neill and Michael Daly at IBM Ireland’s head office in Oldbrook House, Dublin