Tech business week: Spark of Genius winner and good VC news

9 Nov 2015

Centre stage at the Web Summit. Photo via Flickr/Web Summit

The Web Summit dominated the tech business scene last week, with the winner of the ESB Spark of Genius Award announced at it, while some companies chose it as a forum to make announcements.

Bizimply named ESB Spark of Genius winner 2015 at Web Summit

Bizimply was named the winner of the ESB Spark of Genius Award 2015 at the Web Summit in Dublin last week.

Gerard Forde, co-founder of the former Start-Up of the Week, accepted the award on behalf of the company.

Bizimply will now take home a €25,000 prize fund after it was chosen as the winner by a panel of judges including Mary Collins, partner in Greencoat Capital, Tony Zappala, Partner Highland Europe, Shay Walsh, MD at BT Ireland and Stephen Rae, group editor-in-chief of Independent News and Media.

Bizimply is an all-in-one people and shift management solution for the service industry.

Irish venture capital in Q3 reaches €415m

Venture capital funding in Ireland in the first nine months of 2015 reached €415m, up by a third on the same time last year. However, seed funding was only 6pc of this activity.

The IVCA VenturePulse survey shows that Irish companies raised €108.2m from investors in Q3 2015. Funds raised in the nine months to end September 2015 reached a high of €415.1m. This compares with funds raised of €314.4m in the same period of 2014, to €232.6m in 2013 and to €184.8m in 2012, an increase of 126pc in the three-year period.

Total seed funds raised in Q3 2015 is €6m (6pc of total funds raised).

Hyperloop expects $80m in funding by year’s end

Speaking on the final day of the Web Summit, the new CEO of the supersonic train company Hyperloop, Rob Lloyd, announced it has raised $26m to-date with expectations of raising $80m by year end.

As far as futuristic methods of transportation go, the Hyperloop is seen as the one to aspire to, with a design that will use high-pressure tubes to transport trains at incredibly high speeds on an air cushion.

And now, the company that has been set up to deliver the original concept proposed by Elon Musk, is apparently on course to begin turning it from a concept into a reality, with Lloyd saying to the crowd at the RDS in Dublin that they are well on course to constructing the first stages of the Hyperloop system.

Zynga CFO resigns following latest quarterly earnings report

In the face of declining monthly users, gaming company Zynga has announced that its chief financial officer (CFO) has stepped down, with the development of some games shelved as a result.

Zynga, best known for its once highly-successful Farmville game, made the announcement about its CFO David Lee as it posted revenues of $176m, thereby breaking even, which actually surpassed market analysts’ expectations.

However, the relatively positive results somewhat hide the reality that the company has seen its monthly active users (MAU) decline by as much as 27pc year-on-year.

1,010 jobs to be lost at Michelin and Medtronic

Going against the grain of a positive news cycle of job creation, around 1,010 jobs are to go across the island of Ireland as Michelin in Ballymena closes with the loss of 860 jobs, while 150 jobs are to go at Medtronic in Cherrywood, Dublin.

It emerged yesterday that 860 jobs are to be lost in Ballymena with the closure of Michelin’s tyre factory in the town.

The plant is to be wound down by mid-2018 as part of a restructuring plan that will see additional investment go to facilities in Dundee and Stoke-on-Trent.

Irish-led start-up Handy cleans up with €50m in Series C funding

Home-help app Handy’s founder, Oisin Hanrahan, announced at Web Summit that the company has received $50m in Series C funding.

The Handy service, which offers an on-demand home-cleaning service online, has proven to be a runaway success since it launched in 2012 from its base in New York having been founded by Hanrahan along with Umang Dua, Ignacio Leonhardt and Weina Scott.

Hanrahan said the funding would be used to begin the process of rolling out its service to a total of 28 countries worldwide by the end of 2016.

Web Summit centre stage photo via Flickr/Web Summit

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