The digital business week

15 Feb 2010

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

Eircom’s restructure and technology shift

Eircom has begun a major organisational restructure and plans to embrace a more open approach to wholesale broadband opportunities as well as fibre enable its mobile base stations, its new owners have confirmed. Eircom’s new chief executive Paul Donovan and the managing director of Singapore Technologies Telemedia (STT) Terry Clontz told Siliconrepublic.com that the company is about to undergo a transformation that will make the company a force in wholesale, global IP transit, digital television and next-generation mobile. Last month, STT, a subsidiary STT Communications, finalised its €140-million acquisition of Eircom, Ireland’s incumbent telecoms operator, including the company’s substantial €4-billion debt.

Google acquires Aardvark for US$50 million

Internet search giant Google has acquired social search service Aardvark for about US$50 million, according to a report. The two companies have reportedly been in talks since December. Aardvark, founded by former Google employees, has raised around $6 million in venture capital to date. The service lets users ask questions and get immediate responses from their friends and friends of friends.

With its CEO gone, where next for MySpace?

In a world dominated by Facebook and Twitter – and with Google Buzz elbowing in – MySpace’s increasing lack of relevance has been compounded by the sudden departure of CEO Owen Van Natta. Is this the end for the once-mighty social-networking dinosaur?No sooner had Van Natta warmed the CEO seat left vacant by predecessor Chris DeWolfe in April 2009 than he was plucked from his position by News Corp. This former chief revenue officer for Facebook and vice-president of worldwide business and corporate development at Amazon seemed to barely have time to work his magic on the fast fading empire of MySpace.

Chip and PIN no longer secure?

Researchers at Cambridge University have revealed that chip and PIN readers can be tricked into accepting transactions without a valid PIN number, and suggest that fraudsters are already on the case. The research team from the University of Cambridge’s computer labs have found that the EMV – Europay, MasterCard and Visa – chip and PIN protocol is broken. EMV is the dominant protocol used for smart-card payments worldwide, with more than 730 million cards in circulation. The flaw identified by Steven Murdoch, Saar Drimer, Ross Anderson and Mike Bond allows fraudsters to use a genuine card to make a payment without knowing the card’s PIN and to remain undetected even when the merchant has an online connection to a bank network.

Buy4Now expanding its IT workforce

Irish e-commerce technology company Buy4Now Technology Group is to create five new developer jobs based on the growing success of its cloud and software-as-a-service technology. The company revealed last week how its technology, which integrates with ERP systems of major brands, has generated 100pc online revenue growth at department store Arnotts while at electrical retailer DID online revenues have grown 40pc. Buy4Now Technology Group provides end-to-end software systems for major brands as well as an e-commerce portal via Buy4Now.ie. The company’s chief executive, Michael Veale, told Siliconrepublic.com that the company, which is 20pc owned by Eircom, is expanding into the SME market in Ireland and the UK. “We have won our first three customers in the UK and locally have seen the best few months of sales closures for our pipeline than in the last 10 years, which is really saying something in a recession.”

Photo: Owen Van Natta, former CEO of MySpace

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com