Weekly Digest Issue No. 559
Collisons do it again | All change at the top for Twitter
Good week on the jobs front
Ireland's thriving digital media sector got another boost on Wednesday with the news that business networking site LinkedIn is to expand its Dublin operations. The firm plans to create 100 new jobs over the next year with positions available in sales, business development, marketing, customer services, finance, HR and operations. Recruitment has already begun for 15 of the positions. The jobs announcement marks one year since the firm established its international operations in Ireland. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said LinkedIn was 'an excellent addition' to the digital media industry operating from Ireland.
In more good jobs news, it emerged this week that US mobile electronics and accessories firm Zagg has partnered with a small Co Clare manufacturing firm to establish a new facility in Shannon. The partnership will see up to 300 new jobs being created by 2014. Further details of the plans have not been revealed; Zagg has said it will make a formal announcement about the jobs at a "PR event" on 15 April.
Also this week, Hewlett-Packard made one of its key Belfast facilities into a new global centre of software engineering excellence. The new centre will focus on cloud computing and will give HP's StorageWorks facility in the North the opportunity to play a lead role in developing next generation products. It is also likely to deliver a substantial employment boost, although no official announcement on potential jobs has been made yet.
Collisons do it again
Collison brothers Patrick and John have hit the jackpot again, this time with a new online payments venture called Stripe. News emerged on Wednesday that Stripe had raised USD2 million in funding from a number of heavyweight Silicon Valley investors. According to a TechCrunch report the investors include PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, as well as Sequoia Capital and Andreesen Horowitz. The investment values Stripe at around the USD20 million mark.
The Collisons are no strangers to the tech world, having sold their start-up Auctomatic in 2008 to Canadian company Live Current Media for a reported USD5 million. A former BT Young Scientist winner, Patrick and his brother John came up with the idea for Stripe while studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, respectively, according to the Irish Times. They recently relocated to Silicon Valley, where they have been working on the payments venture and attracting interest from high-profile investors.
According to reports Stripe will allow developers to add payment and billing functions to their own applications. Commentators are already calling it a company to watch, and with hugely successful backers like Thiel and Musk, as well as Andreesen Horowitz, it certainly looks like the Collisons are on to another winner.
All change at the top for Twitter
There was a management shuffle this week at Twitter, with former CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey returning to the company, this time as its product chief. Dorsey left the Twitter top spot in 2008 and was replaced by co-founder Evan Williams, who himself resigned as CEO in October 2010, to be replaced by current head Dick Costolo. As well as product chief, Dorsey will also serve as executive chairman and will report to Costolo.
Meanwhile, Williams will pull back from day-to-day duties at Twitter. In a blog post, he said he's "not disappearing from Twitter" but will remain on the board of directors.
As for Dorsey, he announced his return in a tweet on Monday, saying he was "thrilled to get back to work", although he will still remain CEO of his new project Square, a mobile e-payments venture. According to sources quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Williams and Dorsey have had personal differences. Since Costolo took over as CEO late in 2010, Dorsey has had more input into Twitter's direction and will now assume some of the duties previously carried out by Jason Goldman, former vice president of product, who left Twitter late last year.
Speaking at a lecture at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Dorsey said Twitter needs to become more "mainstream", according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Dorsey told students at Columbia that Twitter is also looking to eat into Facebook's dominance in advertising among social media companies.
eBay ramps up competition with Amazon
The acquisition of GSI Commerce this week marks an interesting time for eBay as it strives to become a bigger player in the online retail sector. In its largest acquisition since it bought Skype in 2005, eBay acquired GSI for about USD2.4 billion, including debt. eBay will pay USD29.25 a share, a premium of 51 percent over GSI's closing share price last week, for the company, which handles e-commerce activities for over 180 large brands and retailers, including Levi Strauss, the National Football League, Toys R Us and Ralph Lauren.
The purchase of GSI "will significantly strengthen our ability to connect buyers and sellers worldwide," John Donahoe, eBay's president and chief executive, said in a statement. "Combined with eBay Marketplaces and PayPal, we believe GSI will enhance our position as the leading strategic global commerce partner of choice for retailers and brands of all sizes."
GSI receives and manages online orders, processes payments, maintains retail websites and handles some customer care services. According to MarketWatch, the e-commerce site also operates a distribution network of nine fulfilment centres in the US to help retailers handle their online business. Analysts suggest this expertise will be a beneficial addition to eBay to help it compete more effectively with e-retailing giant Amazon.
eBay said it estimates the transaction, which is expected to close in the third quarter of this year, will result in "synergies" of approximately USD60 million by 2013.