The digital business week

15 Mar 2010

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

‘They’ll be back’, says Arnie

California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger is to be the keynote speaker at the Irish Technology Leaders Group (ITLG) Awards at Stanford University tonight. The awards will recognise a number of promising young Irish technology companies that have the potential to grow to US$100m-plus players. Schwarzenegger will deliver his keynote alongside former CEO and chairman of Intel Craig Barrett. Cisco senior vice-president Barry O’Sullivan told that the awards will recognise a number of companies, including the best new company and the most innovative company.

Last year, Limerick chip firm Powervation received the innovation award for the company’s research successes, management team, product strategy and growth potential. Also recognised last year was OpenHydro, which won the Renewable Energy Award for innovation in the design and manufacture of marine turbines for generating renewable energy from tidal streams.

Hosting 365 acquired by SunGard

Dublin-based cloud-computing and data centre services company Hosting 365 has been acquired by US software and IT services giant SunGard for an undisclosed sum. Hosting 365 has built a strong presence in Ireland delivering both data-centre managed IT services and, more recently, on-demand computing services within its cloud-computing environment.

The company has been providing hosted services since 2001 and operates from two secure data centres in the Dublin area. While the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, Hosting 365’s acquisition is expected to have material impact on SunGard’s results.

Datapac announces 10 new jobs

ICT solutions provider Datapac has just announced the creation of 10 new jobs in its Dublin and Wexford bases shortly after recruiting 14 new employees in the last three months.

These 10 new jobs will be involved in the technical side of things as well as support and customer service and the recruitment process will begin immediately.

The jobs announcement follows Datapac’s recent news of a boost in sales for Q4 of 2009 where numbers were 11pc higher than company expectations.

“We continue to invest in the company to ensure that we have the capacity and expertise to match the evolving needs of our customers,” said Patrick Kickham, director, Datapac.

“We’ve always differentiated ourselves by continually developing the skillset of our employees, and we believe that Datapac can add real value and gain competitive advantage by offering levels of service that are unmatched in the industry.”

Online casino windfall for Ireland?

As many as 8,000 jobs and potentially more could be created in Ireland by online casino companies if crucial legislation regulating online gaming is passed at the end of March. Sources say politicians are on the cusp of voting in long-awaited legislation that would create a regulatory system that would be instrumental in attracting such firms.

According to a report by DKM Consultants, if Ireland were to put in place the right legal regulatory infrastructure, it could attract businesses that would create employment and drive tax revenue to the Exchequer.

If Ireland were to capture just 5pc of the global online casino business, it would represent a local sector worth €2.2bn and generate 5,000-8,000 jobs with an average salary of €40,000 per annum.

BizSpark accelerating start-ups’ access to global market

Irish start-ups, it appears, are proportionately the most avid subscribers to Microsoft’s BizSpark programme and according to the global head of BizSpark, Cliff Reeves, the country is putting in place an ecosystem for start-ups that Silicon Valley would be proud of.

In excess of 400 companies have joined the BizSpark programme which brings them into a development ecosystem of 30,000 firms worldwide and strategically positions them to capitalise on Azure, Microsoft’s ‘Windows for the Cloud.’

Reeves confirmed this. “Proportionately, for sure. I don’t really know how to put a single reason for this but there’s clearly an entrepreneurial spirit, perhaps in spite of Government,” he jokes. “It is true, though, that the environment feels different here than somewhere like Germany. There’s a willingness to take risks and everybody here knows each other.

“It’s these things that lifts the (Silicon) Valley where it’s cool to be an entrepreneur, super-cool to fail and there’s always someone to encourage you to fail, where you’re not seen as a crazy inventor.”

HP to take a hit on earnings over EDS V Sky lawsuit

BSkyB’s landmark stg£200m judgment against EDS, now owned by HP, has forced the world’s largest technology company to revise its first-quarter earnings.

The revisions have resulted in a negative impact on HP’s first quarter net earnings of about US$73 million, or $0.03 per diluted share.

As a result of the revisions, the company’s net earnings for the quarter has been revised to US$2.25 billion and diluted earnings per share (EPS) has been revised to US$0.93 per share – down from net earnings of US$2.32 billion and diluted earnings per share of US$0.96 – as previously reported on 17 February.

HP said that EDS and one of its subsidiaries are defendants in litigation filed in the UK by Sky Subscribers Services Limited and British Sky Broadcasting Limited (BSkyB) in 2004 relating to a customer relationship management (CRM) project that was awarded to EDS in 2000.

At a court hearing held on 1 March 2010, the court ordered EDS to make an interim payment to BSkyB of stg£70 million, or about stg$112 million, which is in addition to an interim payment of £200 million, or about $320 million, that HP made voluntarily to BSkyB in February 2010.

By John Kennedy

Photo: California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger

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