Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Teenage Kicks – The Collisons catapulted into millionaire status

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Update: Front Page Irish Times coverage. BBC coverage.

Congratulations to Patrick and John Collison on the acquisition of their company Auctomatic that they co-founded and run along with Harjeet and Kulveer. See kids, you can live the dream and build a technology company. Right now these teen brothers are probably the exception but I can’t see anything stopping anyone else here from doing the same. This post will be updated later today.

Update: Press release –
Multi-million success for Irish teenage tech entrepreneurs

Patrick (19) & John Collison (17) from Castletroy, Limerick have now
made a lotto-like fortune as a result of Auctomatic, the company they
co-founded, being acquired in a multi-million dollar deal by large
multinational Canadian company Live Current Media. Auctomatic will
join Live Current’s existing portfolio of services and technologies
while development work on it will continue at a greater pace.

The Auctomatic story starts in Limerick where BT Young Scientist
winner Patrick deferred college at MIT to work with his brother John
who was in transisiton year in school. Soon their online commerce
startup merged with the UK startup of cousins Harj and Kul Taggar, and
the new merged company was then funded by high profile American
investment company Y Combinator, as well as early Google employees
Chris Sacca and Paul Buchheit.

Live Current Media is a public International technology & media
company headed by CEO Geoff Hampson, who previously built successful
companies such as Peer 1 Networks. Live Current Media acquired
Auctomatic for both the revolutionary online commerce technology
platform they created, as well as the founders’ widely-acknowledged
insight into the ecosystem of commerce online.

Speaking about the acquisition, Patrick Collison said: “We’re
delighted. It’s a welcome reward for the huge amount of work that’s
gone in, and is a testament to the vision that our investors had.
We’re very excited about the opportunities that Live Current Media
gives us to expand on our products and beliefs, and to take the
Auctomatic philosophy even further. This is a win for us, Live Current
Media and the Auctomatic user community. We couldn’t be happier.”

Patrick will now go to Vancouver to work as Director of Engineering
for Live Current Media. John intends to work with Live Current during
the summer, but is currently concentrating on his fifth year studies
studies at Castletroy College.

The trend of teenagers founding tech companies and becoming
millionaires is nothing new in Silicon Valley, but the Auctomatic
story shows that now both UK and Irish-based teenagers can do the

“I’m personally delighted with all of this, but I’m even more excited
about the fact that the door is open to so many other talented people
in Ireland to do the same thing. The rules for young people,
especially, are being rewritten, and you can now prosper regardless of
age or formal qualifications. I can’t wait to see how other Irish take
advantage of this.”

John added “I’m thrilled. I might buy a car. Then again, I might have
enough money for that, but not the insurance at my age. We went out on
a bit of a limb, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the same path
for anyone else. More than anything, I feel this serves as proof that
anyone, at any age, can be successful if they put effort into
something they’re good at.”

Despite having launched as recently as October, there was strong
interest in Auctomatic from well-known Silicon Valley technology
companies. Ultimately, though, the match between the founders’ vision
and Live Current’s plans was too good an opportunity for either
company to pass on.

Sales Figures for Twenty Major’s First Book – 536 til March 15th

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008


(Eason’s Mahon Point Cork, filed under M for Major in Irish Fiction)

Figures from Nielsen BookScan have shown that Twenty Major’s first book “The Order of the Phoenix Park” have sold 536 copies up to March 15th. Given the book came out at the start of March, that’s very good going for the market in Ireland at this time of year. I believe these figures don’t include online sales either. Well done Twenty!

I read the book recently and I think it’s the first humour book I finished. I’m not a fan of humour in books, I’m not a fan of comedies at all apart from the League of Gentlemen. I don’t find many things at all funny (really) but I very much got a kick out of this book. I found it slightly hard to get into the book first as that ginger avenger albino character freaked me out a little but I must say I was laughing out loud a lot of the time while reading it and chuckling away as I turned every page. It’s a great book and deserves greater attention. My favourite character is Grace Jones Taxi Driver. You’ll see. I really like that the Jimmy the Bollix character gets more attention too. There are some great bits in the book where the author plays with the reader too. I won’t say what but I liked that technique. Fourth wall and all that. Just a warning: I’m using the word cunt a lot more now after reading this book and I had been weaning myself off it. Not everyone will like this book because that whole thing about tastes and choices comes into play, not that would ever stop a reviewer using Twenty’s book as an excuse to attack their own inabilities or insecurities or the fact that Twenty now somehow represents all forms of blogging past, present or future.

You know what’s great too about the book? The way it’s pissing off so many print “journalists” and hacks. The same ones who work for papers that steal from blogs week in week out and fail to give any kind of attribution because that might give more credibility to blogging and show them up to be self-serving lazy cunts who rarely do any legwork anymore. Oh hang on, have I just made a mass generalisation here without doing proper research? Maybe this is what some people including bloggers mean by Irish blogging “getting there”? Getting to where? Being the same as everything else we had up to now? Joy. That’s worked.

Oh wow, my review of Twenty’s book has turned into a not so veiled attack on a whole group. Like rain on a wedding day. are thieving from bloggers.

Friday, March 21st, 2008

See Suzy’s post on ripping her off. They also rip off Politics In Ireland and were ripping off Limerick Blogger too and I think they’re stealing content from others too. Making money off the backs of people without respecting their IP is not on.

Best Hot Chocolate in Ireland branded so poorly

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I bring many people to O’Connaill’s if they’ve never been before. This Cork based chocolatier make the best hot chocolate around and come the good weather (July 22nd – 24th in 2008) they’ll also be doing amazing chocolate milkshakes. They only use couverture chocolate in their products which makes them really nice. So many people (inc Cork natives) don’t know about the O’Connaill’s store on French Church Street in Cork and I often feel they could advertise the place much better by just changing their cups. This is one of the cups they use:


They already have queues out the door most Saturdays but generally that’s because they don’t have enough staff perhaps. They have gorgeous chocolates, amazing hot chocolate and they do nice coffees and other bits and pieces too. But they could use the people that visit them to get word out even more. I wonder if they did something like specially coloured cup tops or even the coffee holders with their name or some design which would get attention, could they spread the word more? Not so much boutique cups and chocs, though they are luxury at a good price but something setting them apart. Or are they happy with the business they currently have?

Imagine a chocolatier where it’s not just the experience of the damned fine chocolate that makes them great but the kick of introducing new people to them too? Imagine any product being able to get customers to do that? Is this what Apple does in a way? Every iPhone buyer seems to be an evangelist, is every Vista buyer? Apart from an awesome product, how do you make it easy for a customer to be an evangelist for it?

Twenty’s book

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Was in Hodges Figgis and saw the book at Number 26.


That’s not right though, so made a change:

Better. Now, everyone go and buy it in Eason’s or Waterstone’s or Hodges Figgis

Three Ireland – Not so good customer care?

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Liam is far too patient with the way they’re screwing him around.

Is knocking Ireland patriotic?

Monday, March 17th, 2008

I have often thought about creating “The real face of” type websites for various issues in Ireland that annoy me. Long list I know. This got me thinking about it again.

I was thinking of one that would be made to point out the many flaws with Ireland for potential tourists. I’m sure Discover Ireland/Fáilte Ireland would be massively annoyed with a site about the “Real Ireland” which would rank very highly for “Holiday in Ireland” or “Irish Holidays”. It seems quite sad and damning that the only way to make a lot of Irish society or the Government react or to enact change is to embarrass them into doing it. Perhaps if enough people pointed to a site with a tourism reality check then the Government and Tourist boards would do their best to get rid of ripoff artists, filthy B&Bs and crap transport systems.

The same would go for a site dedicated to explaining what happens if you set up a business in Ireland. Sorry, Dublin only, no proper broadband, all sorts of stealth taxes etc. etc. If that ranked on the same page as the I.D.A. and Enterprise Ireland, I’m sure that would not be liked or appreciated. Perhaps it would bring about change? The Government are great with their unpatriotic protestations when someone does a reality check, would a site like this which knocks Ireland be unpatriotic, should there be an element of talking up the country too to balance the site out?

hmm...Shamrock - a SMART INDIAN restaurant?!
Photo owned by fergie_lancealot (cc)

Google is the great equaliser these days, for those rich enough or in a country developed enough to let all their population access an unfiltered Internet that is. So a great equaliser to a tiny percentage of the world… If everyone can see sucha reality check via a simple search, will there be a positive reaction eventually?

It could be done democratically enough too (messer suggestions and mob rule Wolfetone song style voting would just be removed) with people suggesting what the worst things about Ireland are from a tourist perspective and the top 5 would be displayed on the front page with all the others on the next pages. Is this viable?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Is the screw turning on ComReg and the broadband providers?

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Two interesting bits in the papers of late. First in the Business Post was a bit about the Consumers Association of Ireland getting quite gung ho with ComReg and are (very Stephen Colbert) putting ComReg and the DCENR on notice. Seems they had a meeting on Monday and pointed out all the areas where ComReg was doing a bad job. Long meeting I guess? About time that the CAI made some noises after sitting on ComReg’s Consumer sham Panel which did nothing but give ComReg credibility when it deserved to be condemned.

Nice quotes:

‘‘ComReg has been in existence for over five years and, by now, we would have expected it to have made significant strides. In some cases, not much has changed since the days when these sectors were run by the Department of Public Enterprise,’’ Doorley said.

‘‘However, if the review suggests that it has the powers and has failed to act, then the CAI will be putting ComReg and the government on notice that, if it does not reform and perform within a reasonable period of time, then it should be stripped of its consumer protection role and it should be given to another body.

‘‘In short, it will be a case of shape up or ship out.”

Secondly the Advertising Standards Authority, an industry “regulated” group has new advertising codes for broadband (Irish Times link) which will urge broadband providers to declare average speeds during peak hours when they advertise. This I’m more cynical about. The ASAI cannot force anyone to do this. It’s all urging and writing them notes if they don’t comply. No legal powers at all. No fines. Previously telcos have ignored the ASAI‘s notices. They also have a code for availability/coverage. Now that will be interesting. With Mobile broadband in Ireland being muck, I wonder what the speeds advertised will be now and whether they’ll release the data to the public. ComReg should be doing this on a monthly basis.

Stations of the cross, True fans and micro-training classes

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Did you ever live out in the country in Ireland and they’d have the Stations of the Cross in a house and the whole community would come along? People from the parish or the catchment area would show up and belt out the old tunes of Hail Mary. Act of Contritions and Our Fathers and then once ended the real fun would begin with the socialising afterwards. The women would have all these great sandwiches made and all sorts of baked goods ripe for the munching, there’d be tea and coffee and maybe a “drop” for some of the men. News would be exchanged, stories retold, introductions made if there were new people there and an almost knife fight to be the next house to do them. Ahh country life. I actually kind of enjoyed them apart from that god stuff. It’s a very interesting way of getting a community together and socialising and not one pub was needed.

I got thinking of this due to Kevin “Cool Tool”s Kelly. Kevin has written an inspiring blog post about the idea that an artist or musician or writer could survive by having just 1000 fans but these would be “true fans”. The loyal fans would would spend a days salary on you over a year. It’s taking the idea of the long tail (hype hype) and moving away from the end but not hugely towards the top. It brings you to a point where you can get a regular or safe enough income from people who know you and regularly support you from the liking your work and that working the room or the circuit enough to get these 1000 could be enough for most people to be able to do what they love and remain comfortable.

kevin quain & the mad bastards
Photo owned by Karlina – as things are… (cc)

He points to Danny O’Brien too who talked about being at a house concert and it’s an interesting concept. An up and coming or maybe slightly established musician plays your house. You are her mini-patron in a way. 40 people at most coming to your house party. She plays, everyone loves her music, they might go beyond getting turned into a fan and maybe turn into a true fan or an evangelist. As the person that organised the house party you get attention and adoration from people who might never have experienced this person before. Maybe they’ll buy five cds off her there and then.

Kevin Kelly’s essay is probably going to inspire many blog posts from me alone on this concept and you can see from the comments on his post that it could very well turn into a book judging by the feedback and examples he’d collecting. It made me think of something else though. The ideas of BarCamps and the ShareIT experiment I tried and the offers of free blog training in Cork and Dublin are nice ways of meeting people and sharing but they could still be friendlier. The banter after is always better and more information can be exchanged too after.

I really wonder could you do the idea of a house training session. Do some simple training sessions for an hour with a group of people and then socialise afterwards. Kind of like the Help Yourself idea but in someone’s sitting room. With apple tart. And ham sandwiches with mustard. Or lentils with mustard. 🙂 This would be very basic stuff obviously and would be geared to people who have not been to a session before. Am sure there’s all sorts of legalities with public liability insurance or some such thing too. I’d love to try it out though. Oh and it would have to pay. The trainer gets some money and those attending pay but also have to chip in for the catering.

What do you think?

Bloggers Book thing – Still going to happen

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Well, it didn’t happen before the Blog Awards because there was too much on so we’re re-scheduling. If anyone can suggest a good venue where we can gather Grandad, Twenty, Fiona from The Waiting Game, Kieran Murphy and Declan Burke to talk about blogs and books, let me know.