By Harry Keaney
Brian Rohan is in palpably good mood this week, now that the Irish Times has acknowledged that his employer, VirtualIreland.com, has not closed and that he is still the Irish community web site’s editor in chief.
Last week, Ireland’s paper of record riled Rohan with a report that Virtual Ireland was going out of business. He immediately sought a correction which the Times printed last week. The Times stated that it "regretted" the error.
"Delighted," was Rohan’s reaction Tuesday.
The Times story had its roots in an announcement by Virtual Ireland’s parent, New York-based Virtual Communities, that it was laying off 50 employees. Virtual Communities is also the parent of four other ethnic websites: VirtualJerusalem.com, VirtualHolyLand.com, VirtualItaly.com and VirtualIndia.com
The layoffs — in New York and Jerusalem — account for a third of Virtual Communities staff but none of the layoffs affected Virtual Ireland. Although Virtual Ireland generated a small profit in the last quarter, the sites overall have not been generating adequate revenue.
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This has led Virtual Communities, which is quoted on the Nasdaq under VCIX, to change its strategy from managing online communities to the development and sale of CORTEXT, which is content management software for the Web. VCIX currently owns an 60 percent percent interest in Cortext Ltd, an Isr’li software developer, and has plans to acquire an additional 20 percent.
According to Rohan, discussions are taking place between Virtual Communities and potential investors. And although Rohan claimed last week that the Irish Times report had created "bad publicity" for Virtual Ireland, he told the Echo Tuesday that it had generated more interest in the site.