The tech business week: UPC to shed up to 170 jobs, Irish Times paywall to go live

23 Feb 2015

A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week, beginning with TV and broadband player UPC confirming up to 170 jobs are to be lost as part of restructuring at the company.

Confirmed: 170 jobs to be cut in restructuring at UPC Ireland

UPC has confirmed up to 170 jobs at the TV and broadband player are to be lost as part of restructuring at the company.

The redundancies are to take place across five offices around Ireland.

SIPTU, which represents 100 of the workers, said it is in discussions with the company.

It is understood UPC is to implement a restructuring plan that will see some operations in Ireland relocated to the Philippines.

UPC said where possible, redundancies will be achieved on a voluntary basis, and it expects the various steps associated with this plan will be substantially completed by this summer. No further redundancies are foreseen.

Irish Times’ paywall is about to go live – will other newspapers follow suit?

The paywall for The Irish Times newspaper online will go live today, sparking a potential new trend other newspapers in Ireland may follow.

The newspaper said that on 23 February the metered subscription service will go live.

The Irish Times stated that the subscriptions are being introduced because it no longer believes it is possible to sustain online journalism through advertising income alone.

Under the new system, readers will be able to browse and read up to 10 articles per week on any device. This is very similar to the digital subscription regime introduced recently by the New York Times.

Obama: EU investigations into Google and Facebook commercially driven

US President Barack Obama has said EU investigations into social network Facebook and search giant Google’s privacy methods were motivated by European commercial interests.

In an interview with veteran tech writer and Re/Code executive editor Kara Swisher following the White House Summit on Cyber Security and Consumer Protection at Stanford University in California, Obama intimated at least twice that European business interests drove regulatory scrutiny on US companies.

Discussing the disclosures by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, Obama admitted his administration has been trying to update laws and rules governing cyberspace but in the case of the US National Security Agency (NSA), it hasn’t been fast enough.

Sony may ditch smartphones and TVs to pursue profits in PlayStation and sensors

Consumer tech giant Sony may exit TVs and smartphones to focus on areas such as its PlayStation and camera sensor businesses in a move to boost profits 25-fold by 2018.

As reported in recent months, Sony is instigating a strategic refocus on areas that actually deliver profits.

CEO Kazuo Hirai said recently he would not rule out an exit strategy for the mobile phone and TV business units.

Stripe is now enabling bitcoin transactions

Limerick brothers Patrick and John Collison’s US$3.5bn Silicon Valley start-up Stripe has begun allowing merchants to use its service to process payments in the form of bitcoins.

Stripe will charge 0.5pc per transaction made via the cryptocurrency.

The company started testing bitcoin integration almost a year ago across 60 countries and completed its trial in December.

Key features of Stripe’s new bitcoin service include an easy API, freedom from exchange rate hassles, transparent pricing and accurate reporting.

Facebook agrees to rent Seattle office space that could accommodate 2,000 staff – report

Facebook is preparing to move into a new office in downtown Seattle, Washington, that could accommodate about 2,000 employees.

That’s according to a Bloomberg source, who claims the social network has signed a lease for most of the new Dexter Station building in the South Lake Union neighbourhood of Seattle.

If reports are true, Facebook will be taking over almost 275,000 sq feet – the 10-storey complex boasts a total of 345,992 sq feet – in a deal that would increase the amount of real estate the company occupies worldwide by about 9pc.

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