The technology business week: Disney acquires Lucasfilm, Apple’s management shuffle


5 Nov 2012

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Robert A Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney, with George Lucas, chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm

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

Disney acquires Lucasfilm for US$4bn – Star Wars: Episode 7 in production

Digital entertainment giant Disney has acquired Lucasfilm for US$4bn in a deal that includes all of the company’s subsidiaries, including Lucasfilm Animation and its video games arm LucasArts. It has also been revealed that a new Star Wars movie is in production.

Disney bought Lucasfilm in a cash and stock transaction valued at US$4.05bn.

“It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers,” said George Lucas, chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm.

“I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organisation, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come.

Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

Apple management reorganisation is an attempt to stave off threat of an innovation vacuum

Changes at the top at Apple ostensibly to increase collaboration across the technology giant’s hardware, software and services divisions are really the answer to an awkward question many have had about the future of the company since former CEO Steve Jobs’ death last year.

Apple last week announced that senior people like Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will have more responsibilities added while Scott Forstall will leave the company next year but will serve as an adviser to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

Ive will take on the mantle of leader of human interface (HI), as well as being the industrial design genius who helped make technology beautiful again. Cue will take on additional responsibility for Siri and Maps and will continue to strengthen Apple’s services in the area of the App Store, the iBookstore and iCloud. Federighi will lead iOS and OS X while Mansfield will lead a new group enigmatically known as ‘Technologies’, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams and semiconductor teams.

Cork company Luxcel signs distribution deal with Japanese firm

Luxcel Biosciences Ltd’s products are heading into the Japanese pharma and academic markets, now that the University College Cork spin-out company has signed a distribution agreement with Shigematsu & Co Ltd.

Shigematsu & Co Ltd is a Japanese trading company servicing the pharma, diagnostics, chemical, food, electronics, universities and public institutions within the food, retail and chemical sectors.

Luxcel Biosciences Ltd is a producer of non-invasive optical sensors that monitor oxygen levels in food, beverage and pharmaceutical packaging.

The agreement was signed during last week’s Enterprise Ireland trade mission to Japan which is being led by Ireland’s Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock, TD.

Eircom to cut 2,000 workers as part of accelerated cost-savings plan

Eircom is to reduce its 5,700-strong workforce by 2,000 employees as part of an accelerated cost-savings plan. The workforce reduction will take place over the next 18 months.

The company said other changes include changes to existing work practices and consolidation of under-utilised office locations across Ireland.

In the coming months, the affected workers will engage in a number of face-to-face sessions across the country, led by Eircom’s recently appointed CEO Herb Hribar.

PayPal cuts 325 full-time jobs in restructuring

Online payments giant PayPal has shed 325 full-time jobs, primarily in its product and technology organisations, as part of restructuring to streamline its business and accelerate product development.

The company is combing nine product groups into one and is also ending contracts with about 120 contractors worldwide.

PayPal’s parent company, eBay Inc, will take a US$15m pretax restructuring charge in the fourth quarter related to the job cuts.

LinkedIn revenues up 81pc to US$252m, reports a US$2.3m profit

Professional social network LinkedIn reported third-quarter revenues of US$252m, up 82pc on the US$139.5m last year and a profit of US$2.3m.

Revenues from the US amounted to US$162.4m, representing 64pc of total revenue. Revenues from international markets totalled US$89.7m or 36pc of sales.

The company’s Talent Solutions division, previously its Hiring division, brought in US$138.4m of revenue, up 95pc on last year.

LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions division reported revenues of US$64m, up 60pc on last year while Premium Subscriptions revenues came in at US$49.6m.

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