The digital business week

8 Mar 2010

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

IDA says 105,000 new jobs on the horizon

State development agency IDA Ireland has unveiled a new blueprint called ‘Horizon 2020‘ aimed at creating 105,000 new jobs by 2014, the lynchpin of which will be social and economic regeneration of cities, towns and regions. IDA Ireland said the plan to create 105,000 new jobs will be delivered via 640 investments, more than half of which will be located outside of Dublin and Cork. Some 20pc of the investments will be Greenfield. The agency said it is targeting an annual spend from the investments in excess of €1.7 billion by 2014.

HP creates 60 jobs based on more competitive economy

Available talent as well as inroads on salary and wage competitiveness played a role in HP deciding to locate 60 new jobs at its Global Solutions Centre in Belfield, Dublin, the company said. HP is consolidating its European operations at its facility in Belfield, to provide high level technical support to its customer base across Northern Europe and the Benelux countries. The new roles are in first-line support to customers, on-site engineering, partnering and distribution, and the company is seeking to recruit individuals with the necessary technical experience and language capabilities (fluency in English and one other relevant European language) to service the operation. Recruitment of the 60 positions has started, with advertisements appearing across national press.

Virtual currency could be more important than ads – Facebook

Virtual currency on Facebook has the potential to be a bigger revenue maker than the ads business on the social-networking giant’s site, the head of its European operations Colm Long told a digital conference in Dublin this week. “Look at Zynga and PlayFish – talk about acceleration of growth – their level of acquisition of users and customers is essentially practically impossible on any other platform. Think about the idea of virtual currency – billions of dollars are being exchanged on virtual goods. People are buying virtual tractors on FarmVille and guns on Mafia Wars like you would not believe. Think about the potential behind this – today, in order to do that we are building a payment ecosystem. We want to build a currency that drives liquidity across the whole Facebook platform. If you make money from growing corn on FarmVille you can take that currency and buy a virtual or physical gift on any part of the platform and Facebook will take a cut. This has the potential to be bigger than our ads business over time,” Long said.

Start-up invests €250k to break into UK market

A dynamic new business software company led by former Microsoft Ireland employees is to invest €250,000 in the coming year to break into the UK market. Inspired Software and Services’ BizPortal, which is based on Microsoft’s SharePoint technology, enables SMEs to save money on their IT costs and streamline business processes. The company was founded in September 2008 by Eamon Breen and William Connor, both former Microsoft employees with a combined 40 years of experience in the IT industry in Ireland and a passion to supply the SME market with a suite of products that would help them run their businesses more efficiently. The company specialises in the delivery of business productivity solutions based on the Microsoft suite of applications and in particular SharePoint.

Build ‘em fast, and build ‘em cheap

Dylan Collins, the entrepreneur who by the age of 30 had sold three successful technology firms, says Ireland needs to focus more on generating a larger number of internet start-ups. “We need to focus more on internet start-ups – they are the cheapest to build and the most scalable. Investors will always get a greater return on investment,” Collins told last week’s Digital Landscapes event at UCD. Collins should know. The Trinity graduate who three years ago, at the age of 26, sold his Dublin-based technology company, DemonWare, to the world’s biggest computer-game firm, Activision, for $15 million, has built up JOLT Online to be one of the most pioneering free-to-play browser games firms on the planet.

Digital opportunity to transform Irish economy

Ireland needs to find a way to emulate the success of locations like Silicon Valley and can begin by fixing the things that are broken and using digital technologies to transform the economy, said the chairman of the advisory board of UCD Smurfit Business School Paul Haran last week. “The digital world has transformed the pace, rate and scope of business to a degree that was unimaginable a few years ago,” Haran told the Digital Landscapes conference at UCD. “We now have the capacity to deliver from anywhere in the world high-value add services with zero marginal costs. It is staggering the kind of opportunities it presents.”

Zamano swings to profit in 2009, despite revenue fall

Dublin and London-listed mobile software firm Zamano has reported net profits of €1.1 million in 2009, which it said was largely due to lower interest costs, a reduction in operating costs and no impairment charges. This 2009 profit compares to the €3.8-million loss the group reported in 2008. However, Zamano’s revenue fell 39pc in 2009 to €25.1 million, which the company said was largely due to its transition to higher-margin, lower-volume revenue and its shift away from advertising services on print and TV to advertising on mobile devices.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Eamon Breen and William Connor, directors of Inspired Software and Services

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