The tech business week: Inspirefest launched and Nasdaq hits all-time high

27 Apr 2015's editor-at-large Ann O'Dea speaks at the Inspirefest launch

A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week, beginning with the news that Silicon Republic’s Inspirefest 2015 event has been officially launched.

Changing the ratio starts now as Inspirefest 2015 is officially launched

Under the banner ‘changing the ratio’, has now officially launched Inspirefest 2015, with 2,000 STEM professionals expected to gather in Dublin in June to promote diversity in tech.

Taking place between 18 and 20 June in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and Merrion Square Park,the event is attempting to move on from the groundwork that has been laid in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and start a new future where people from all backgrounds have a chance of being the next innovator.

Seventy percent of speakers at the event will be female, in what would not only be a first for Ireland, but for the world as well. Some of the confirmed speakers include: Hillary Clinton’s former adviser Shelly Porges; astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell; Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant; MakeLoveNotPorn founder Cindy Gallop; founder Ariel Waldman; Recode co-executive editor Kara Swisher; Techmums founder Dr Sue Black; Giant Spacekat co-founder Brianna Wu, Dublin’s commissioner for start-ups Niamh Bushnell and Bletchley Park researcher Kerry Howard.

Nasdaq surges to a new high – surpasses record at height of dot-com bubble 15 years ago

The Nasdaq index has surpassed the record high it set at the height of the dot-com bubble of 15 years ago. On 23 April the index rose 0.5pc to 5,060.14, topping its all-time high of 5,048.62 that it hit on 10 March, 2000.

While other exchanges like the Dow Jones and S&P have achieved many highs since the end of the recession, the Nasdaq exchange has constantly fallen short.

But, compared with 15 years ago before it all went awry for the dot-com economy, less than 50pc of companies on Nasdaq are pure-play tech players; 70pc of Nasdaq companies were tech-related ventures 15 years ago.

It is the traditional IPO home to major tech brands, including Amazon, Cisco, Facebook, Intel and Microsoft.

Comcast scraps US$45.2bn merger with Time Warner Cable

Comcast has scrapped plans to merge with Time Warner Cable in what would have been a US$45.2bn merger deal combining the two largest cable and broadband providers in the US.

The development comes after the Federal Communications Commission said it planned to oppose the deal based on concerns that the merger would not be helpful to consumers.

Together Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have controlled 54pc of the entire US internet market. The scrapping of the merger comes 14 months after it was first announced.

Google navigates currency headwinds to report Q1 revenues of US$17.3bn

Google has reported Q1 revenues of US$17.3bn, up 12pc on the same quarter last year. The internet giant cited momentum in its mobile advertising business as the driving force behind its performance.

Hedging its bets in a foreign exchange risk-management programme, if foreign exchange rates had remained constant Google’s revenues in the first quarter would have been US$795m higher.

The internet giant reported a profit of US$3.5bn, up from US$3.4bn last year.

Google websites generated revenues of US$11.9bn in the first quarter, a 14pc jump from last year.

Europe prepares to unveil digital master plan to take on Silicon Valley

The EU is to propose plans for a single unified digital marketplace that could restore the region as a world technology leader, add €340bn to European GDP and create 3.8m new jobs.

On 6 May the European Commission will unveil proposals for the single digital market to counter the growing dominance of US tech firms like Google and Facebook in Europe.

The Commission wants to create a common market for digital goods, including content and services, and protect two million enterprises and 33m jobs that span networking infrastructure, telecoms, automotives and manufacturing.

It is understood that 41pc of these enterprises don’t use digital technology.

91pc of Irish SME websites have no e-commerce capabilities

A new report published by the IE Domain Registry (IEDR) claims that 91pc of Irish SMEs can’t process any sales online whatsoever.

The findings came following a survey commissioned by the domain registry group that looked at the websites of 501 SMEs in Ireland.

Likewise, in terms of running their business through the internet, 68pc of those surveyed showed they couldn’t handle payments online and 62pc couldn’t take sales orders online. More than half (51pc) also have no social media presence.


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