Weekend news round-up: Ireland of the mentions, Apple gets Snappy

6 Jan 2014

Dublin's Docklands

In our round-up of the weekend’s tech news, Ireland came in for a special mention in international dispatches for its vibrant tech scene, and Apple acquires SnappyLabs to boost its iPhone photo capabilities.

Ireland’s vibrant start-up scene

Ireland’s start-up scene came in for a special mention in a piece in the New York Times, which noted the domestic tech sector is one of the country’s pillars for economic recovery. But, it said, this won’t be easy.

“Ireland’s start-up scene is still relatively small compared with other European hubs, like London and Stockholm. In the first nine months of 2013, the latest figures available, the country’s fledgling companies received around a combined US$65m of venture capital investment, a 28pc drop compared with the same period a year earlier. The figure also is less than a tenth of what rivals in Britain secured in the first three quarters of 2013, according to the data provider DJX VentureSource.

“And in the race to attract top engineering talent, the lifeblood of a start-up, it is hard to compete with the likes of Google and other global companies, which can offer tantalising salaries and perks, as well as prestige.”

Europe’s unemployed blindsided by opportunities in the tech economy

Another report in the New York Times set Dublin as the opening scene for a broader piece on how despite announcement after announcement of jobs by companies like PayPal, Fujitsu, Microsoft and many more, there’s not enough talent to fill them.

“There is just one hitch: Not enough people are qualified to fill all the jobs. In some cases, the companies have had to look outside Ireland to recruit candidates with the right skills.

“After a five-year economic crisis, the mismatch represents one of the thorniest problems facing Ireland and many other European countries. Hundreds of thousands of people who lost work, and many young people entering the workforce, are finding that their skills are ill suited to a huge crop of innovation-based jobs springing up across the continent.”

NSA doesn’t deny spying on members of Congress

The Guardian reported on the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) response to Senator Bernie Sanders, in which it did not deny collecting communications from legislators of the US Congress.

“In its statement, which comes as the NSA gears up for a make-or-break legislative battle over the scope of its surveillance powers, the agency pointed to ‘privacy protections’, which it says it keeps on all Americans’ phone records.

“The statement read: ‘NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons. NSA is fully committed to transparency with Congress. Our interaction with Congress has been extensive.’”

Equadorian Navy rescues tech billionaire Bezos

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is reported to have been rescued by the Ecuadorian Navy after suffering a kidney stone attack on New Year’s Day, Galápagos Digital reported.

“Ecuadorian newspapers and blogs, including El Universo and El Comercio, reported that Bezos was flown by Navy helicopter from Academy Bay in Santa Cruz Island to his private jet on Baltra Island. The captain of the helicopter, Juan Ibarra, is quoted by El Comercio as saying that Bezos was aboard a cruise ship vacationing on the islands.

“Ecuadorian Navy Captain Daniel Ginez Villacis, regional director of the islands’ Coast Guard, said Bezos was flown aboard his private jet to the US for emergency treatment. Ginez also reported that Bezos’ family and business associates sent messages of thanks for the quick rescue.”

Apple gets snappy with its acquisitions

TechCrunch reported that Apple has acquired SnappyLabs, maker of SnappyCam, a start-up headed by John Papandriopoulos, an electrical engineering PhD from the University Of Melbourne. He invented a way to make the iPhone’s camera take full-resolution photos at 20 to 30 frames per second – significantly faster than Apple’s native iPhone camera.

“Based on Papandriopoulos’ scientific breakthroughs in photography technology, it’s not hard to see why Apple would want to bring him in to help improve their cameras. The strategic acquisition of an extremely lean, hard technology-focused team (of one) fits with Apple’s MO. It typically buys smaller teams to work on specific products rather than buying big staffs and trying to blend them in across the company.”

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