Tech business week: Entrepreneurs report calls for change, and BT broadband

3 Aug 2015

This week in tech business news: female entrepreneurs report calls for change and a slew of companies release financial results.

Female entrepreneurs report calls for sweeping changes

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has published a female entrepreneurs report with regard to maternity issues among leadership in the tech sector calling for positive discrimination to increase numbers.

The female entrepreneurs report was authored by Senator Mary White and is arguably one of the largest calls for more to be done to narrow the gap with regard to the number of women entrepreneurs compared with men, particularly in the tech industry.

The report includes many recommendations that cover a variety of different approaches, but particularly when it comes to encouragement from an early age for young girls, as well as financial incentives for women beginning their entrepreneurial careers.

BT to cover 95pc of the UK with fibre broadband by the end of 2017

UK telecoms giant BT has revealed that it will work with the UK government to bring fibre broadband to 95pc of the country by the end of 2017.

CEO Gavin Patterson said during the company’s Q1 financial results that it currently reaches 80pc of all UK premises with fibre broadband.

BT reported £4.2bn in revenues for the first quarter, up 2pc on last year.

Profits before tax were up 9pc to £694m.

Setback for unicorns as Yelp stock falls after surprise losses

Unexpected losses at business listings service Yelp sent the company’s stock plummeting by 28pc. The company suggested the current unicorn bubble in Silicon Valley is hurting its performance, with rising salary costs eating into profitability.

Yelp reported a respectable 53pc surge in Q2 revenues to US$252.4m. However, a net loss of US$2.6m didn’t impress investors.

During Yelp’s earnings call, chief operating officer Geoff Donaker said that the unicorn bubble is hurting Yelp’s profitability as competition for talent in Silicon Valley is fierce.

He said that the challenge is something that Yelp and other players will simply have to ride out.

Facebook’s Q2 results reveal 39pc rise in revenue

Facebook has reported sales of US$4.04bn in the second quarter, representing a 39pc jump in revenue for the social network.

Much of this rise can be attributed to mobile advertising revenue, which rose to 76pc of total revenue from 62pc this time last year.

Monthly active users rose 13pc year-over-year to 1.49bn, while Facebook’s mobile active user count jumped 23pc to 1.31bn.

The San Francisco-based company’s total expenses shot up 82pc to US$2.77bn in the three months ended June 30 as it invests in various projects and data centres.

Uber faces fresh legal challenge from British drivers union

Uber has endured a whole lot of legal issues in its short life, but recent challenges in particular threaten to derail the very foundations on which the ride-hailing app has been built.

It was announced last week that GMB, the union for professional drivers in the UK, is to take legal action against Uber on the grounds that the firm is in breach of a legal duty to provide its drivers with basic rights on pay, holidays, health and safety, and discipline and grievances.

GMB is opposed to Uber’s stance that drivers are ‘partners’ and, therefore, not entitled to rights normally afforded to workers. The San Francisco-based company currently treats its drivers like third-party contractors, ensuring it can operate without the responsibilities that would come with being an employer. But GMB asserts that Uber must ensure that its drivers are paid the minimum wage, receive their statutory entitlement to paid holidays, get rest breaks and work a maximum number of hours per week.

Twitter CEO race: Bain in lead over Dorsey amid management exodus

Unless Twitter co-founder and interim CEO Jack Dorsey is willing to relinquish the reins of Square to focus solely on Twitter, the growing consensus is that Twitter’s sales chief Adam Bain is a shoe-in for the job.

“Who’s going to be the next CEO of Twitter?” was the question that flashed constantly on Twitter during the social media company’s earnings call last night. And no one got a satisfactory answer as the executive search led by Jim Citrin following the departure of Dick Costolo seemingly continues.

Dorsey has his hands full with both Twitter and Square. Twitter beat forecasts by announcing Q2 revenues of US$502m. Twitter’s advertising revenue rose 63pc year-over-year to US$45m, with mobile ad sales making up 88pc of that total.

Square, meanwhile, is going from strength to strength and at the weekend reports surfaced indicating that Square is quietly preparing for an IPO.

Bain meanwhile is being credited with Twitter’s continued sales growth in the last five years and is seen as a steady hand whose focus on turning Twitter into a billion-dollar player is unswerving.

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Stock female entrepreneur image via Shutterstock

Brigid O Gorman is a former sub-editor of Silicon Republic.