By Harry Keaney
For some dotcom companies, these are the worst of times and the best of times. First, the bad news: many venture capitalists who not too long ago seemed eager to put their money into new startups are now beginning to focus on fundamentals such as turnover, revenue and profits. For many, the mere expectation of profits is no longer enough.
While the change of mood has recently been quite obvious in the U.S., dotcoms in Ireland’s booming Celtic Tiger economy are not escaping unscathed, according to news reports.
Wit Soundview Europe is moving its online brokerage operations to London in a move will result in the loss of 50 jobs in Dublin. Online auction site eBid has canceled expansion plans, cut wages and reduced staff numbers. Financial services site Xelector, also in Dublin, has made 29 people redundant. Enba has cut about 70 staff positions and its banking arm, First-e, has canceled a television advertising campaign. In Belfast, online video retailer BlackStar has cut staff numbers, and online jewelry retailer Adornis.com has gone offline.
Meanwhile, in New York, staff on the Irish community website Virtual Ireland are not being paid. A buyer is being sought for the site, which is still active.
For others in the dotcom sector, it seems the jackpot lies in having a well-run company to sell. Take, for example, the Irish company Client Solutions, set up in 1994 by Shemas Eivers, Teddy McCarthy and Gerard Murphy. The company has been sold to Horizon Technology for £10 million.
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"Globalization, the internet and developments in mobile telephony are rapidly reshaping the rules of business for Northern Ireland," according to Alan Gillespie, chairman of Northern Ireland’s Industrial Development Board. Writing in the board’s annual report, issued last week, he warns that the North’s traditional industries "face challenges to ensure that their operations are able to survive in the face of worldwide competition."
Gillespie added that both the old and new economy in the North must be knowledge-based, and "embracing e-business which is driving forward changes."
Wexford Town is to get 300 new jobs. They will be created by PFPC International, a global financial financial services company and a subsidiary of PNC Bank, the 12th largest bank in the U.S.
The new jobs will be in a £5 million complex on the Rosslare Road.
Joan Kehoe, managing director of PFPC, said that the high cost of living in Dublin was among the deciding factors in choosing Wexford.