Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Ones to watch in 2013

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Here are my 2012 Ones to Watch.

Play and read, if you want, this is from the film Holy Motors:

2012 was European Year of Older People telling younger people to cop themselves on, or something like that.

2013 is going to be the year of the younger person. Well, this list is certainly suggesting this. Oh yes, the new phrase is “younger person” as marketing people have redefined youth to be anyone 35 and younger. Technology has enabled ubiquitous communications, we’ve heard this for a decade now but in 2012 we really saw/heard the voice of younger people push the older (mostly male) grey haired “authorities” to the side. 2012 saw dealmaking in music for Soak, a wee teenager from Derry and a deal for The Strypes, the youngfellas from Cavan and they have a good few years before school ends. Another Irish “Stripe” is the Collison-fueled payments startup in San Francisco that already seems to be David to Paypal’s Goliath.

Technology has made geography easier, we can work from home when home can be a boat on a different continent. So many people not at home for Christmas checked into home with Skype and Facetime video calls. Technology allows time-shifting so we can watch TV and consume media whenever we want. While I watched The Late Late Toy Show live from a laptop in Cardigan, Wales, many in America just watched it on Saturday morning (their time) thanks to RTÉ player. Technology can break down class barriers and allow anyone to play with the big boys if they have talent.

Technology now is making age less of an issue, whether it’s older people logging on to Facebook encouraging their grandkids to give cheek to parents and playing good cop to their bad cop, or younger people taking part in events and building companies. Online has broken down the ringfences around demographics. Now 70 year olds can talk about crocheting with 18 year olds on the other side of the planet or turn up to tweet ups. I’m biased and bearish on this of course but the inter-democratic and inter-generational data that’s being exchanged enriches our society. 20 year olds are hanging with 50 year olds and they’re learning from each other. I love how Zuckerberg has absolute control of his public company thanks to older experienced people (and not yes-men) giving his advice. More of this.

Yet 2012 saw vulnerable people, many of them teens not have their voice heard or have someone let them know it’s ok to tell people if they’re feeling vulnerable. In this world of inter-connectedness and oversharing (personally think this is bullshit), people still meet barriers to check in with those that could be of help. There are still obstacles but things are getting better, the more we communicate. Anyway, shutting up and getting to the list:

Vincent Lyons and Ian Connolly
Them and Enda Crowley (who appeared before in this area) have been running Dubstarts in Dublin bringing tech people and tech companies together. Vincent is around 23 and Ian is 20 (awww). Networking events are crucial for any startup ecosystem to grow and flourish. Agenda fueled networking events won’t get the fun people, the creative people, the people who can make an impact. Dubstarts meets these criteria and helps companies hire in Dublin which for tech is a very aggressive hiring location.

Lyra Mckee
Lyra is 22 and properly causing a fuss in Northern Ireland with her tenacious, dogged, investigative journalism. When your supporters are pressured to shun you, you’re winning. Lyra is winning. What I like too is Lyra is blogging and tweeting as she goes, warts and all about her experiences. Won’t get that on a journalism course…

Conor Clinch
Conor has a lovely eye for detail. Thus why his photography skills are sought by many agencies and why he is now flying all over the shop to attend fashion shows. He built on his reputation in 2012 and I have a feeling that 2013 is going to be more of the same, except more. Impressive as it stands, even more so for the guy that’s only 17 a few days.

James Eggers
Sure didn’t James win a Web Award and before that a few Young Scientist Awards? James builds things and builds them well. is a lovely site that makes it much easier for students to find exam papers and the marking schemes for them. James likes to work with tech around big data, the current over-abused tech term by Government, like cloud before it but the actual applications for this are vastly important and it’s good to see people working on it. James and real-coders of his kind that can code at a professional level from a young age will impact on Ireland, whether the education system supports them or not. The Collisons below are such an example.

Marie Duffy
Now I’m biased as I’m on the board of Spunout and Marie was previously on the board and now works there. She’s a great communicator, has done wonders since she took over as Editor for Spunout and is creating a valued resource on all things young people related for Spunout. She was also in the States later in 2011 representing Irish people and hearing Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan talk away. Marie has always has strong interests in mental health issues for younger people and as Spunout comes out of their shell again after being in a cocoon for so long, her influence and work will make a great impact. Marie is 28.

The Collisons, all of them.
Again. Sure it’s not a list without them. All three this time. Patrick and John are about to flip the world of online payments upside down and deservedly featured on that Forbes under 30 list. What they do in Stripe is very real and is impacting on the world daily. Now we have Tommy (also mentioned before) finishing school and maybe heading to the States for college next year. Oh and at 18 has already self-published two books. They’re not over-achievers in my view, they’re just expanding out to use 100% of their talents.

Stephanie Francis
Actually Steph already announced she was leaving X Communications earlier in December. This post was in draft since November and she was on the list, I swear! Steph organises Crafthouse, worked in the talented X-Comms and did trojan work on the Book of Kells app. I expect her influence will be a very positive one for the Engine Yard team in 2013.

Token older person: Sean Blanchfield
He’s not old or really that older but compared to the quite young people on the list, he possibly could be classed as that. Seán has been supporting people and events including Dubstarts in the background for the past few years, being a very positive influence without seeking the attention and glory for it. There are lots of reasons why Dublin very much is a tech startup hub now and Seán is one.

Token older person and annual listee: Pat Phelan
See what I said for SB above. Pat is up to something, I can feel it in my bones. Plus he always makes this list and not adding him is bad luck. So what will Pat bring us in 2013?

Non-tech people:
Jack O’Keeffe and the other Young Chef’s. Coming to running a kitchen near you.

What future for news?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

So I asked a few people that work in media for their take on the future of news, where is it going, what do they think is going to happen. A very loose question has received some very interesting and insightful answers. Many thanks to: Deirdre O’Shaughnessy, Gareth O’Connor, Laura Slattery, John Kennedy, Adrian Weckler.

Deirdre O’Shaughnessy – Cork Independent

Expensive print is continuing to suffer as online news makes further inroads into peoples’ daily routines. I believe there’s still a place for print; the issue for most outlets is that people are now out of the habit of paying for any content, and that is a major challenge that most news producers still need to get their heads around. As a free newspaper, we are lucky not to be based on a ‘consumer pays’ model, but we are finding that advertisers are still far more willing to pay for print advertising than online advertising. Funnily enough, one of the biggest helps in that regard is going to be Apple – Apple customers are forced pay for music, film, etc. Introducing paywalls to people who already use Apple products will be a lot easier than introducing them to people who use free downloads all the time.

Regarding sourcing of news, I think the realisation has hit most journalists that a person on social media is the new ‘bloke in the pub’. Verification processes should be as stringent when you are told something online by a stranger as if you were told the same thing in a pub by a stranger. Social news isn’t new – it’s only the medium that has changed.

Gareth O’Connor – Storyful

I’ve grown a little tired of the phrase “future of news”, as I like to think more about the present of news. The world of news and journalism is a very exciting place to be right now with a whole host of new tools and technologies which help journalists to do the job faster. In my job at Storyful I live very much in the moment, two to three screens open on my desk at all times. Twitter has become a key tool in my trade, the social platform is where many news stories emerge right now as journalists embrace new storytelling methods. My role at Storyful as Director of News-Gathering involves being the “radar” of our social newsroom, the air traffic control tower if you like. As a social media news agency we pride ourselves on spotting stories quickly and delving into a whole host of social sources to increase understanding and offer context. These methods of news gathering were unheard of ten years ago, before social technologies opened up the web. Often I will have over twenty ‘live’ Twitter lists open on my terminals as we monitor multiple news sources around the world. These methods enable Storyful to react to developing stories really quickly, alerting news clients and activiating our video search discovery team. In a world of real-time news and social streams, this ability to react quickly gives our news team a vital cutting edge.

The key to these new methods of harvesting news is the concept of curation. As the online universe becomes noisy, the role of providing signal in the noise becomes more vital. Trust is a valuable commodity in the world of the social web and increasingly people are looking to experienced journalists to point them towards useful and relevant content. Fine work is being done in this area by news people like Jim Roberts of the New York Times (@nytjim on Twitter) or Neal Mann at the Wall Street Journal (@fieldproducer on Twitter) and our own Editorial Director (@DavidClinchNews) Our entire business model at Storyful is also based on this concept of finding the news from the noise. Every day our team searches the web for the best news content to share with our media partners. Key to all of this is the concept of the open or social newsroom. A big development in the news industry in the coming years will be the notion of the collaborative newsroom where journalists engage with the community on stories of relevance. Some organisations like the Guardian in the UK have already done a lot of work in this area. Legacy media organisations are also starting to embrace the concept of breaking down newsroom walls. The present of news is also about data. A goldmine of data exists for journalists to explore and this will become a more important area in years to come. In some senses the future of news is already here. That’s why I’m so excited about the present.

Laura Slattery – Irish Times

The future of the news business looks a lot like its past: intense, adaptive and alarmingly dependent on the financial commitment of passing moguls. Newspaper groups currently in the game of delivering (or aiming for) hard-news scoops as well as providing colour, context and entertainment may be placed under pressure to pick a side. Even the most genuine scoops very swiftly disseminate into what’s dismissively known as “commodity news”, with every news outlet jumping on the story. Some outlets, therefore, may come under commercial pressure to operate more like premium current affairs magazines ? with much smaller workforces to boot. All in-depth content (not necessarily long-form) will eventually go behind a pay wall as a matter of course, with only entry-level synopses of the events of the day offered for free to news tourists.

News outlets must remember to encourage journalists to stray from the beaten path ? pursuing online traffic by racing to embrace the same stories everyone else is doing will only result in self-defeating feedback loops. The aim should be to deliver content that either ticks some carefully selected ?specialist? boxes, or elegantly communicates a grander story. It?s about having fun without being intellectually flabby, being serious without being dull, and always, always, having some element of novelty. Unfortunately, it is a general rule of thumb that ?better? journalism takes more labour hours to produce: Only news outlets that recognise this and don?t go down a content-farm route will thrive.

Although some of the terms we hear nowadays (curation, aggregation, data journalism) are simply new names for old tricks, this is nevertheless an exciting time to be a journalist. But there will be painful job losses at legacy news organisations and further casualisation in employment. Freelances are finding it harder and harder to make journalism pay – this is worrying if it means that only young people from wealthy backgrounds can ?afford? to pursue it as a career.

John Kennedy – Silicon Republic

(Excuse typos, writing this on my iPhone at 18,000 feet.)
The first thing to understand if you are media is that nothing will wind back the clocks, the ivory towers are collapsing, there are no ‘papers of record’ and the media is truly mass media in the sense that everyone now has a voice and can contribute.
This is something of a rude awakening for traditional media but it is something they need to understand – the audience will crave the raw perspective of a nurse or teacher on the frontline of cutbacks for example as much as they will relish the column and opinion of a distinguished political columnist with impeccable connections. People can tweet, comment, blog, podcast, shoot video and add new dimensions to a story. It is all content and there is no point shouting at the waves ‘go back’ in irritation at the arrival of these other voices and opinions, embrace it.

For news practitioners this is not the end but rather the start of a golden age, but its up to you. Delivering the facts accurately alongside other forms of media like video and audio as well as distributing it socially will mean journalist will have to work even harder and faster than before. Journalists will also need to develop social communities around their brand and approach stories as opportunities to facilitate debate and gather new information.
Traditional journalists will need to be open to new ways of working and collaborating with their colleagues and their audience using social media. This will require a lot more flexibility in terms of working arrangements and will be a challenge for management in newspapers and broadcast outlets to ingrain in their organisation.

News will be fluid and if journalists wish to survive and thrive in this era of change they need to seize and realise the opportunities and adapt. Never before has such a rich array of technology tools and capabilities been at the disposal of journalists – those who embrace them and adapt will survive and prosper.

Adrian Weckler- Sunday Business Post/

News is its own master and will find its own outlet. That’s good news for anyone with a phone and a big challenge for those who have become comfortable with rigid, established routes to an audience (broadcasters, publishers).
According to the latest survey (Ipsos-MRBI), over half of Irish adults have a Facebook account. Half, again, of those adults visit their Facebook page everyday. That is substantially more people than buy a newspaper every day (even if the purpose for visiting can vary). The same survey shows that a fifth of Irish adults have a Twitter account. At the same time, the number of people buying newspapers here continues to fall, at a rate of between five and ten per cent each year.
But newspapers are slowly starting to adapt. It’s becoming rare to find a journalist who doesn’t have — and use — a Twitter account.

I believe that the profitable, commercially sustainable answer to 100,000% more information, stories and opinions floating around networks and platforms is not to water down journalism and research, but the opposite. If you put more research and skill into a story or a feature, it will stand out even brighter, even in an age of aggregation, sharing and retweets. True, you have to pay attention to a framework, business model and all the rest. But there are different models to let you do this, from paywalls to online ads.
The Sunday Business Post has chosen a blended approach (paywall for the Sunday product, free-to-access for The Daily Business Post). Our experience is that people are willing to pay for news they need when it’s packaged to their liking and delivered on the devices they use.

There are some bright, well-executed rivals that have recently come into the Irish market. The Journal and Broadsheet stand out. They are giving the news audience what it has been looking for and no amount of moaning by traditional publishers about the evils of aggregation is going to change this. What established publishers are now starting to do is to take a minute and re-assess their own mojo. When they think long enough about it, they’ll see that The Financial Times makes a lot more money than Gawker, even if it invests a lot more money, too. The barriers to entry for anyone who wants to cover what’s happening around us are now far lower than they were. That means that it’s not enough for a high-paying traditional publisher simply to type up something that occurred or an announcement from a press release: it doesn’t take a degree to do this. Instead, publishers need to do two things: (i) break news and provide superior analysis and (ii) have platforms in place to make sure that the potential reader doesn’t have to strain to get to that news or analysis.

Aer Lingus bringing in WiFi on flights?

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Aer Lingus are currently running focus groups around Ireland and are asking people would they go for WiFi on flights.

€20 for a transatlantic/longhaul flight.
€10 for a UK/Europe flight.

They’re also looking at a method of reserving a price on tickets for 24 hours for €5 per person per flight. (Thanks Ralph) Wonder can you do this before a Heineken Cup match?

Indo coverage and mention of WiFi on flights.

Punt Nua – Creative Economics

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

I’ve been dragged into an art exhibit called Punt Nua – Creative Economics that’s happening next week in Dublin. The launch is on Tuesday if you want to head along.


It’s in Darc Space in North Great George’s Street. Facebook invite is here. My “art” of #mulleybucks will be there along with genuine pieces of art too.


Can I get tax relief now?


Sunday, May 20th, 2012

I was asked to write 350 words on chugging for Le Chéile magazine, which is part of The Wheel. The question asked was: “Should charities use chuggers?”.

Full submitted piece:

If you want to be crass, lazy and think only of the short term for your organisation, I have a suggestion for you. If you want to extract money quickly from people and let a private organisation get handsome fees from you, I have a suggestion for you. If this were the Simpsons I’d start singing about a Monorail about now.

Chugging is the fracking of the charity world. It does get you back something of worth but it is controversial, it angers many people and there can be a poisonous fallout over it. If you want to see how the general public feels about chuggers, do a search on Twitter for the phrase or look at the Twitter account @chuggerwatch (I have no affiliation with them, it’s obvious as they are nice to charities)

When I met an organisation that employed chuggers a few years ago they told me if I can find an easier way to get money as quickly, they’ll do it. Shortcuts have gotten this country and our society into trouble in the long term and the quick buck means chuggers blocking you, making you shake their hand, asking for high-fives or hugging you. It will make you first disliked and in time despised by the general public. Don’t forget the massive data protection issues too as these strangers gather banking details in your name.

The organisation I met told myself and other active Twitter users that they would never employ the tactics of asking for handshakes to stop people. Now they do. As people become immune to the usual chugging tactics, stronger more intrusive tactics are needed. Fracking came from the oil industries that drained mother earth dry. What next for chuggers?

The fallout of an industry ignoring more aggressive chugging is that all organisations may be mistrusted and all forms of on-street collections could end up being banned. Politicians in this country will always use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, it is their nature to over-react. If you want to be the BP of the charity sector, I have a suggestion for you…


State Agencies give €250k+ to F.ounders, Dublin Web Summit

Friday, May 4th, 2012

I recently asked Enterprise Ireland and the IDA about their financial and otherwise involvement with the F.ounders and Dublin Web Summit events in the past few years. F.ounders brings all the tech boys to the yard and they’re like: it’s better than (London, Berlin, elsewhere). Davos for geeks is right.

I really like the idea of F.ounders, bringing a buzz to Ireland and hopefully getting some of those tech boys setting up shop. It’s a juggernaut of tech meetings. It’s a private affair though. Dublin Web Summit then commercialises this very well by introducing the F.ounders types to the public. Is it value for money? F.ounders, I think is. Getting some of the most brilliant people in tech together in Dublin for any event is worth a lot. What happens though when these leads are generated and delivered? Who converts them?

So what did EI and IDA give to the F.ounders and Dublin Web Summit events over the past while?

F.ounders 2010
IDA gave €30,000
Enterprise Ireland gave €10,000

F.ounders 2011
In 2011 a consortium of Irish state agencies gave €170,000 to F.ounders/Dublin Web Summit
Enterprise Ireland gave €50,000
IDA gave €60,000
Other agencies contributed the rest.

EI’s Cloud sub-event
However they also gave money towards Enterprise Ireland’s “Beyond the Cloud” event as part of Dublin Web Summit 2011.

€54,450 was paid to Dublin Web Summit Ltd. by the state agencies
IDA gave €10,000
Science Foundation Ireland gave €10,000
Enterprise Ireland gave €34.450

London Web Summit 2012
Enterprise Ireland gave £10,000 to the event (Press Room Sponsorship)

Here are the original emails from EI and IDA on this (names removed)



Further to your recent query, in 2010 IDA sponsored the F.Ounders part of the event to the amount of €30,000 following an approach by Paddy Cosgrave.

IDA sponsored the F.Ounders event again in 2011 as part of the Ireland team overall sponsorship package. IDA invested €60,000 in the event in 2011. In addition, IDA contributed €10,000 towards the running of the Beyond the Cloud event at the Dublin Web Summit in 2011, in conjunction with EI and SFI.

IDA Ireland can confirm that at no time was it asked by the Department of An Taoiseach or any other Government Department to support these events.


Dear Damien,
In response to your recent FOI request, I have gathered the following information.

Enterprise Ireland provided €10,000 in sponsorship for the Founders event in 2010 following an approach by Paddy Cosgrave.

Enterprise Ireland decided to sponsor the event as it represented an unprecedented opportunity for positive global publicity for Ireland as a top business location.

On foot of the success of the 2010 event, and a sponsorship request by Paddy Cosgrave, Enterprise Ireland in partnership with other relevant stage agencies negotiated a joint inter-agency sponsorship package for Founders and Dublin Web Summit in 2011. The agencies jointly provided a package of €170,000 in sponsorship of which Enterprise Ireland provided €50,000.

In addition, Enterprise Ireland ran the “Beyond the Cloud” event as part of Dublin Web Summit. This event cost approximately €74,500 of which €54,450 was paid to Dublin Web Summit Ltd. IDA and SFI each contributed €10,000 towards the total cost of this event. The rest was covered by Enterprise Ireland.

In 2012, Enterprise Ireland, through its London office, provided £10,000 (Sterling) of sponsorship for the London Web Summit.

Enterprise Ireland can confirm that at no time was it asked by the Department of an Taoiseach or any other Government Department to support these events.

I trust this covers your information requirements,

Kickstarting for startups

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Just a quick note more than a blog post. I’d like to see anyone that wants to draw down Government funds (EI, Enterprise Boards etc.) have to prove themselves by doing a Kickstarter type drive. We hear about embracing failure (once you learn something) and have the war scars from previous startups can be a good thing and something VCs might want to see.

Pushing the Kickstarter idea can be good for a few reasons: It shows that they can pitch their product, shows they have a network and can use it and also shows that they have some kind of business acumen. It doesn’t need to be a 6 figure kickstarter or even a high 5 figure sum but something that gets the public interested in a project but also not small enough that you get money just from savings and family.

Fund It in Ireland is great for the arts. Small and large projects are on it and there’s a great deal of learning after they’re run. A clone for startup funding could even be created for the Irish market with Government funds. The argument would be this service makes invested money have a higher chance of used well. Naturally scams would be attempted like they are everywhere else but let the crowd find the holes in it.

This was playing as I wrote the post. So there you go.

Not the best start to Open Ireland

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Update: As predicted by Pat Phelan and myself in private conversations, his Twitter follower account and mine suddenly gained 20,000+ each after our blog posts on buying followers. Comments like “well you also have bought followers” were then passed on. Also, thanks for the threatening text message over the below post. Screenshotted for posterity.


Seán O’Sullivan (co-coiner* of the phrase cloud computing) launched his Open Ireland initiative this week and miracle of miracles he gained 15k followers on Twitter in a few hours. As the numbers skyrocketed he bragged about it and attributed it to the Open Ireland coverage.


Until people pointed out they were “spam” followers. AKA they were bought. Seán of course claimed no idea of how that happened. He said at first he thought it was a hacker:


Then later he said at first he thought it was a celeb mentioning him:


Seán’s employee Bill Liao who claims to have co-founded Xing…


Tweet above from the founder of Xing.

… had the same issue with these “spammers” going from 30k followers to 110k in a very short space of time. He too doesn’t know where they came from:


If I saw myself go from 30k to 50k to 100k followers and noted they were all spam accounts I’d be worried about my account security and would report it to Twitter.

Bill instead will Tweet about you for cash to his 25k (when the ads were starting they were this) and now 100k followers. This is what he is saying on his Fiverr profile. Oddly, this is also the site where you can buy “spam” followers!


There’s been a lot of chatter on Twitter about faking follower numbers recently and also over on Pat’s blog. Experienced people can spot fakery but tell media people you are now followed by 80k people and they might not fully check, repeat it and one fake number makes you seem way more powerful than you are.

A conspiracy theorist though might suggest this was timed like that to do damage to the Open Ireland initiative. Or it might have been an intern going rogue. That happens a lot. Still, not the best start to this new intiative.

BTW, with past experience of blog posts of this nature I’m betting I’ll be classed as a bully, made people cry, I’m anti-Ireland, anti-jobs and more. I do admit to all of those and being anti-bullshit too.

* that’s a new one to me

Fluffy Links – Monday March 5th 2012

Monday, March 5th, 2012

NY Times piece about doing business in China or Russia. Leave all electronics at home as you’ll be snooped on/hacked.

eircom Start Up. Video pitch about your business. Winner gets 2.3k in telecoms credit and gear.

And on eircom. Revealing data on their three strikes rule which they have told the Govt they do not like and doesn’t protect their customers enough.

Great data and insight on how to use Kickstarter exceptionally.

3D Printer prices from various manufacturers. In a few years you’ll be using Pirate Bay to download designs to print on your 3D printers.

What else is needed for startups in Ireland? Dylan Collins weighs in.

Tabs on Facebook are shite and the new changes kind of reflect that.

There’s a whitepaper for the Social Media Awards out. We interviewed winners from the 2011 event and compiled them together. Worth a gawk.

A word that gets you wrecked

but in the end the man they commemorate is the builder

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Jacob Bronowski

The hand is the cutting edge of the mind. Civilization is not a collection of finished artefacts, it is the elaboration of processes. In the end, the march of man is the refinement of the hand in action. The most powerful drive in the ascent of man is his pleasure in his own skill. He loves to do what he does well and, having done it well, he loves to do it better. You see it in his science. You see it in the magnificence with which he carves and builds, the loving care, the gaiety, the effrontery. The monuments are supposed to commemorate kings and religions, heroes, dogmas, but in the end the man they commemorate is the builder.

That quote is from about minute 42 of the below. The whole video is worth watching and the whole of the series too.