The technology business week: Openet wins entrepreneur award, Eircom Group revenue down 8pc


30 Sep 20131 Share

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Joe Hogan, Openet founder and CTO, and Niall Norton, CEO, after the Irish-born company won the 'European Entrepreneur of the Year' accolade at the Tech Tour event in Berlin

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

Irish telecoms software firm Openet is European ‘entrepreneur of the year’

Irish network operator software vendor Openet has been named European Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2013 Tech Growth Summit in Berlin, Germany, this past week.

Joe Hogan, Openet founder and CTO, and Niall Norton, CEO, accepted the award on behalf of the Dublin-headquartered firm.

While accepting the award, Hogan said Openet has put creativity and hard graft into building real-time decision-making systems for some of the world’s largest communications service providers.

Eircom Group revenue down 8pc to €1.3bn for full year

Eircom has reported annual revenues of €1.3bn, down 8pc or €121m on the previous year. The company reported it was making progress on reducing operating expenses, with costs down €37m or 6pc on last year.

Despite the savings, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) decreased by €55m or 12pc on the previous year to €487m.

Eircom’s retail customer base, fixed and mobile, stood at 1,976,000 at the end of June and includes 1,059,000 mobile customers. The total customer base, including wholesale customers, is 2,390,000.

In the broadband market, Eircom had 451,000 retail broadband customers, a 1pc decrease on its retail broadband customer base since 30 June 2012.

US telecoms investors buy Irish fibre firm E-net

E-net, the fibre company responsible for running Ireland’s 94-town network of metropolitan area networks (MANs), has been acquired by a consortium of US telecoms investors for an undisclosed sum.

The consortium comprises Granahan McCourt, Oak Hill Advisors, and the family of Walter Scott Jr. The business has been acquired from previous shareholders, including ACT Venture Capital and E-net founder Michael Tiernan.

“We see potential to expand and to maximise the MANs and look forward to working with management to realise that aim,” said David McCourt, CEO of Granahan McCourt.

E-net said the acquisition will have no impact on the company’s day-to-day business and the company’s management, led by CEO Conal Henry, will remain in place.

The MANs themselves will remain in State ownership and customers including BT, UPC and Vodafone won’t be affected by the transaction.

Fairfax consortium agrees to buy BlackBerry for US$4.7bn

Smartphone maker BlackBerry has signed an agreement to enter into a six-week due diligence period with a consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings, which aims to acquire BlackBerry for around US$4.7bn.

BlackBerry’s board of directors have signed and approved a letter of intent.

During the six-week due diligence period, BlackBerry has the right to “go shop” for other prospective buyers but would have to pay Fairfax a termination fee.

eBay to acquire Braintree for US$800m in cash

E-commerce titan eBay is to acquire payments platform Braintree for US$800m in cash, which  includes Venmo, Braintree’s mobile application that gives people an easy way to pay each other using their mobile devices and leveraging social networks.

Once the acquisition is completed, Braintree will continue to operate as a separate service within eBay-owned PayPal under the continued leadership of Braintree CEO Bill Ready.

“Bill Ready and his team add complementary talent and technology that we believe will help accelerate PayPal’s global leadership in mobile payments,” said eBay president and CEO John Donahoe.

The acquisition is expected to close late in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Revenues from app downloads to reach US$26bn in 2013

This year more than 102bn apps will be downloaded from the various app stores, netting revenues of US$26bn – up from US$18bn in 2012 – according to Gartner.

Gartner said in-app purchases will account for 48pc of app store revenue by 2017, up from 11pc in 2012. 

“Free apps currently account for about 60pc and 80pc of the total available apps in Apple’s App Store and Google Play, respectively,” said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner. “The iOS and Android app stores combined are forecast to account for 90pc of global downloads in 2017. These app stores are still increasingly active due to richer ecosystems and large and very active developer communities.”

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