Oct 13

‘Getting into a Relationship with a VC is Like Getting Married’

‘Getting into a relationship with a VC is like getting married’ – start-up tells masterclass  Maurice Roche, partner, Delta Partners, chats with Richard Barnwell, CEO of Digit Game Studio, at the Securing Seed Capital Masterclass at Bank of Ireland in DublinHigh-growth start-ups linked up with investors to share insights during a masterclass in Dublin last night, where guest speaker Richard Barnwell, the founder and CEO of Digit Game Studio, also touched on how start-ups need to learn to almost ‘flirt’ with venture capitalists (VCs) in order to form a symbiotic relationship.

In it for the long haul …

The event, which was organised by Delta Partners along with Bank of Ireland (BOI), was held in the latter’s Burlington Plaza building on Burlington Road, Dublin 4.

In all, 20 Irish high-growth start-ups from technology and other fast growth sectors – think med-tech and healthcare – engaged in the Seed Capital Showcase organised by Delta Partners.

That particular VC firm has pumped in more than €7m in these companies via the BOI Start-Up and Emerging Sectors Fund.

More than 200 home-grown Irish jobs have apparently been spawned as a direct result of these investments. And many of the entrepreneurs steering these particular 20 start-ups are forecasting more job growth during the coming year.

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Nov 12

100 jobs announced by Dublin-based gaming company Swrve

Some of the Dublin Swrve teamSWRVE, ONLINE GAMES optimisation software company based in Dublin, has announced the creation of 100 new jobs over the next two years.

After securing an investment of around €4.9million from Atlantic Bridge Partners and Intel, the jobs will be created in research and development operations in their Dublin office.

Some of the jobs have already been posted on the Swrve website, the rest will be added to the growing gaming company over the next two years.

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Sep 12

300 new jobs as BioWare Ireland expands remit to all EA games

EA chief operating officer Peter MooreEA chief operating officer Peter Moore, Electronic Arts has announced a major additional investment into its customer support centre in Ireland, in a move that will create some 300 new jobs.

The Galway facility, which is thought to already house about 400 customer support workers, is to expand its responsibilities across numerous EA games.


The publisher’s second-in-command, Peter Moore, told CVG that it was “great to get some positive news considering we often get a lot of negative news about places closing down”.

Opening in 2011 with a ceremony led by key BioWare executives, EA’s Galway facility will now provide customer support for a number of EA games, including the upcoming FIFA 13.

It will offer multilingual support around the clock, Moore added.

“A year ago the studio was for support on Star Wars the Old Republic and now we’ve expanded the remit to include other EA games. This will be more than just about an MMO,” he said.

“It’s great to see the industry growing in certain areas, and it’s great to be able to provide some positive news about interactive entertainment instead of the negativity we get.”

There was no timeline offered on when the 300 new vacancies will be filled, with EA hoping to carefully hire the best people for the job.

The EA COO said that Ireland’s tax breaks initiatives and government support were helpful in brokering the deal.

“Tax breaks was one of the factors [for the deal], and Galway has been a great place for us to do business, it’s been a very cost-effective place for us with great support,” he said.

“We’ve been looking at cities around the world and especially Europe, so I’m happy to say Ireland has won out. As EA moves towards a digital future, we no longer see our business partners as retailers, we see our customers as our end-consumer, and dealing with the questions from those consumers is an important step for us.”

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Jul 12

Irish Govt establishes digital games group to deliver 2,500 new jobs by 2014

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton has asked a new group to consider how jobs can be created in the digital gaming sector.Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton has asked a new group to consider how jobs can be created in the digital gaming sector to deliver 2,500 new jobs by 2014

Ireland’s Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, TD, has established an industry group consisting of executives from the major games companies present in Ireland to spearhead a strategy to create 2,500 new digital games jobs by 2014.

Driving ‘on-the-ground’ collaboration and networking, the Clustering Development Team (CDT) will proactively develop relationships between the foreign and indigenous cohort of games companies, start-ups and well-established multinationals, industry and education institutions, games companies and related sectors.

Influencing the policy system, the CDT will also have a key role in bringing about a change of thinking and approaches in relation to policy development for the games sector and related digital economy activities for the longer term.

Building a games talent base

The CDT will be chaired by Paul Breslin of PopCap Games, with internet entrepreneur Dylan Collins as vice-chair. The team also comprises representatives of other leading Irish and multinational games companies based in Ireland, as well as representatives of relevant Government bodies.

The group will be tasked with driving the implementation of recommendations of the October 2011 Forfás report on the games sector, which targeted the creation of an additional 2,500 jobs in the sector by the end of 2014.

“A key part of the Government’s plan for growth and employment is targeting sectors where Ireland has the potential to grow large numbers of jobs,” Bruton explained.

“These are sectors where, because of companies already located here, because of research being carried out here, because of the talent base we have or for other reasons, we have competitive advantage and therefore have the capability to attract more multinational companies, grow more indigenous companies, and ultimately create more jobs.

“Digital games is clearly one such sector. Not only do we have a base of ICT companies here which is the envy of many other countries, but we are fast developing an expertise in digital games specifically which can be a foundation for major jobs growth.

“The games sector here has expanded fivefold since 2004 and now employs approximately 2,500 people here – and continues to grow worldwide at a rate of 8pc annually. A major Government report has targeted the establishment of a further 2,500 jobs by the end of 2014, and recommended the establishment of an industry-led group to drive the implementation of measures necessary to achieve that goal. Today we have delivered on that recommendation.

“The task now is to sustain the momentum we have created in this sector and see through the creation of the jobs we need. I am convinced that, driven by the industry experts who have agreed to serve on this group, that can now become a reality,” Bruton said.

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Jul 12

Nine-year-old Irish girl brings in €20k for educational game

Nine-year-old Niamh GallagherNine-year-old Niamh Gallagher

WHO needs Dragon’s Den? This nine-year-old girl has persuaded punters to part with nearly €20,000 to help fund her dad’s business.

Niamh Gallagher’s gift of the gab has helped convince internet users in America, Britain and at home to put their hands in their pockets and pledge support for an online children’s game called Pora Ora. And the race is on to raise a further €62,000 so the ambitious project can go ahead – and help create some much needed employment here.

“It’s going brilliantly so far,” Niamh’s dad, Neil Gallagher from Arranmore Island in Co Donegal, said yesterday.

“Our aim is to raise $100,000 (€81,000) in total so we have exactly two weeks left to get the balance, so fingers crossed it happens.

“If we reach our target we hope to attract further investment from America, which will hopefully help create jobs here. Getting funding for things these days is difficult so we decided to take matters into our own hands and appeal to people to help us make this happen as we really believe it’s the way forward with kids’ education. It will help our company to grow and hopefully create jobs here, which is another big bonus. Even a euro will go a long way,” he added.

Today, fans of the game are expected to bombard social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook with the Kickstarter video of Niamh pitching for cash for the project.

It’s hoped that the video will go viral and that people will pledge anything from €1 upwards to make the project happen. Depending on the size of the donation, pledgers will receive Pora Ora goodies such as colouring books, t-shirts, maths and literacy workbooks, free phone apps and games.

“Give Bill Cullen a run for his money”

In the quirky fundraising video, Niamh and her siblings Daragh, 8, and Sean, 5, act out scenes to illustrate how kids’ education has changed over the years and then Niamh gives a sales pitch that would give Bill Cullen a run for his money.

Caped Koala Studios – which has its headquarters in Clonakilty in Co Cork and employs 16 people – has offices in London, Poland and the US. Pora Ora has already won awards and is being enjoyed by thousands of children across the globe.

It contains games, puzzles and quests that are all geared to a global school curriculum and children learn through their avatar and their Pora Pal. The game – which has strict security settings and parental control – is also being offered to schools for free.

The school-mode setting means teachers can use it in the classroom and control the safety features, track the child’s progress and offer in-game rewards through the parent portal.

Membership expected to reach over 500,000 users by the end of 2012.

If they manage to raise the $100,000, the company will create an Egyptian themed world, introduce brand new Pora Pals to the game and also create a Pora Pal app and a parent app.

If they exceed their target they will create a coding game and allow children to create their own worlds – but if they do not reach their target, the plans will be scrapped.

Neil explained: “Our Kickstarter campaign has the potential to fund the creative growth and expansion of Pora Ora.

“The education system hasn’t changed in years and creativity has fallen down the priority list. If we reach our target, we will be able to revolutionise education and ensure that Pora Ora can be enjoyed by children, parents and teachers alike. We believe that Pora Ora will become the world’s top online education and entertainment destination for children.”

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May 12

Irishman jacks China up on Green Opium

BUSINESS AND GOLF have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship over the years and, in a country like China, where building relationships or “guanxi” is a vital part of the business culture, it is no surprise that entrepreneurs are also crying “fore!”

The Communist Party has yet to embrace wholeheartedly the ultra-capitalist sport known here as “Green Opium”, but the rising ranks of new wealthy in China love the game. And golf’s inclusion as an Olympic sport from 2016 will do a lot to boost its profile in Olympics-mad China.

Salthill native Mick Quaid (pictured) is currently building a major golf and entertainment facility not far from downtown Beijing, hoping to leverage China’s growing interest in golf into a potential market for Irish luxury products.

“China is not fully embracing golf yet, but it will happen. Education about golf is still zero but Chinese people love it when they try it,” said Quaid, a golf pro who has worked all over the world plying his trade.

“We aim to use the centre as a platform for trading for Irish products. I am trying to link with Irish companies to bring in Irish whiskey, Irish seafood, Irish cheese, high-end gifts. It’s a totally different concept – we sell Old Irish hickory-staff golf clubs, for example. I would like to be able to attract people with the golf image; it’s a luxury,” he said.

Quaid has had a broad experience of the Chinese market since he came here first in 2002. The experience has been frustrating at times. He set up his first golf academy back in 2006 at National Training Centre in Beijing. However, as a government facility, he was not allowed to commercialise the academy and he moved back into coaching. He has also worked on setting up the Idaho-based Jack Nicklaus Academies of Golf business in China.

There are around 600 golf courses in China, which is not much when you consider there are 450 in Ireland, which has a population smaller than Chaoyang district in Beijing. But it’s a step up from the 1980s when there were only 20.

“It’s going to take time before the infrastructure is in place. There is no governing body. But things will change in the run-up to 2016, when golf becomes an Olympic event,” he said.

“We’re going to do things like bring Ernie Els over here, but with his wine, not his golf clubs. We’re bringing in a putter from Switzerland that’s $5,000, but we won’t sell one putter, we’ll sell his clothes, and so on. The Chinese go for this because it’s unique,” said Quaid.

Quaid’s architect father, Michael, will come from Ireland to draft an expo stand for use in the courtyard, where they will display Irish products, Irish holidays, Irish properties to the clientele at the centre.

“Ireland is in the news here since the Xi Jinping visit. Xi has been huge,” he said. “We’ll use golf as the entertainment, but we have conference area, high-end restaurant, accommodation, offices. And we want to have an Irish pub here too,” said Quaid. On the sporting side, there is a large driving range and they will have a six-hole golf course at the facility.

China is already home to the world’s largest golf course, Mission Hills in Shenzhen, which has 216 holes over 12 courses. The club started off in 1994 with a course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

The central government has put a ban on the construction of new golf courses because of land grabbing, where land was snatched by dodgy property developers, often with the connivance of corrupt local officials. This has led to social unrest as disenfranchised farmers took to the streets and demonstrate.

The primary motivation behind developing golf in China is the property market, because of the luxury villas built to accompany the courses.

China’s arable land is scarce, and the government is worried about a growing wealth gap between the rich of the cities and the poor in the countryside.

And there are patriotic reasons why China is taking to golf. The Chinese argue that the game actually originated in China in 945 and that Mongolian travellers took chuiwan – chui means to hit, and wan is a ball – to Europe.

The rules of the sport were laid down in a 1282 book called Wan Jing or Manual of Ball Games.

To teach the Chinese how to play the game, regardless of who invented it, Quaid charges 1,000 yuan (€121) per hour for coaching, but it has to be about more than the golf aspect. “We are here for the long term, but you won’t make money out of coaching, you make money out of trade. We want to help Irish companies to introduce Irish products into China,” said Quaid.

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Mar 12

Spotify coming to Ireland soon?

Online music service Spotify is reportedly on its way to Ireland and Australia. It’s expected that the service’s arrival to these regions will be announced this week.

paidContent reports that Spotify has held talks with Irish ISPs about going to market with a bundled deal. The service already offers bundled deals with network Telia in Sweden.

However, Eircom’s consumer managing director Stephen Beynon has reportedly said the network is not making a deal with Spotify.

Spotify may announce its intentions to enter Ireland and Australia this week, which comes as good news to Irish music fans. It is also reportedly planning to raise another major round of funding, asking investors to value it at US$3.5bn.

The online music service was founded in 2006, launched in a few European locations and arrived in the US in 2011. It has proven to be quite popular, with 10m registered users, of which 3m are paying subscribers.

Spotify allows users to stream music from its database on demand. It currently has 15m songs hosted on the service. Users can either choose a free service which has advertising or they can pay for a subscription which also includes mobile access.

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Mar 12

Talent is Ireland’s secret weapon in digital games race

LIT, Thurles, County Tipperary.

In the global race for supremacy in digital game production Ireland is fast emerging as a location for high-quality digital games developers, with graduates virtually guaranteed jobs in the local market, leading national and international industry experts told the LIT Tipperary Games Fleadh 2012.

Industry leaders predicted the sector will achieve accelerated growth over the next two years, with up to 1,000 new jobs coming on stream per annum.

The two-day event, which will include the first ever ‘Oscars’ for games design in Ireland as well as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the launch of iconic game Chopper Command from Activision was also used as a recruitment opportunity for companies seeking to fill posts and identify new talent.

Jason Livingston, director of Customer Services BioWare Ireland, which has announced 400 jobs for its Galway operation over the next two years said:  ”The reality in Ireland is that you have a fantastic pool of resources to pull from.  I really believe that the availability of jobs here is going to grow because it is recognised internationally that the pool of talent available here is really strong.

Why Ireland is valuable to the global games business

“Ireland’s reputation generally in the digital games developing sector is really on the up.  As a result, I believe that pretty much all of the graduates in this area will secure employment and, furthermore, they will secure that employment here in Ireland.

“The bottom line is Ireland is great value for money right now.  But it is only great value because you have the pool of talent available.  One very positive legacy from our perspective from the Celtic Tiger was the expertise and experience in customer services in Ireland.  We could hire gamers with development experience for customer service posts and it was the best mix possible.

“They could understand what our customers want and we define and drive the development of our game products through feedback from customers.”

Livingston’s comments were endorsed by Chris Gregan, Principal Architect at Playfirst, which has a Dublin base and whose best-known game Diner Dash achieved over 500m downloads.

“We are headquartered in Silicon Valley but our company sees Ireland as a great place to do business.  This is not necessarily because of the tax base here or our improved competitiveness but because of the talent available.  There is far greater competition in Silicon Valley for graduates and we have been able to hire quality engineers here who are driving a lot of our business,” he said.

Scouting for talent

Also attending the event was Alan Duggan, CEO of Galway based independent game development company Tribal City Interactive who said that there are clear opportunities for graduates.

“I am here today to scout talent.  I am really happy with what I have seen today and I don’t think we are going to have a problem filling our positions this summer based the output from young game developers here today.

“This is a real growth area in Ireland, not just for the multi-nationals coming in here but for smaller indigenous companies like us.  There’s no barrier in this industry for people with smart ideas and the skill to go with it.  There are plenty of publishers looking for good content but because you can now publish directly, this is creating a really strong environment for start-ups in this sector.”

Goal of the Games Fleadh

Philip Bourke, Digital Games Design Course Coordinator at the Institute’s Department of Technology, Media and Science and Games Fleadh founder said that the goal of the Games Fleadh is to provide a platform for would-be games developers to showcase their wares.

“And the very fact that some of the best known companies in this sector now come here to identify and even recruit young talent shows just how much of a success the event has become.”

One of the high points of the two-day event is the Engineers Ireland Game Developer Awards which were announced last night.

Limerick based company Open Emotion Studios, which is currently designing the Rubberbandits game for the mobile market, took three of the twelve awards, including the overall ‘Best Game Award’, while Dublin based Pufferfish Games and Bat Cat Games claimed two each.

The award winners were:

Best Game: Ninjamurai (Open Emotion Studios)

Best Mobile Game: Power Grid (Puffer Fish Games)

Best Console Game: P-3 (BatCat Games)

Best in Animation: Bubble Dreams (Super Fun Play)

Best RPG Game: Allods Online (Astrum Nival/

Best Strategy Game: Power Grid (Puffer Fish Games)

Best Casual Game: Flip the Switch (Tribal City Interactive)

Best in Original Audio & Music: P-3 (BatCat Games)

Best Shooter: Reapers End 1 (Eysodic Games)

Best in Gameplay: Ninjamurai (Open Emotion Studios)

Best Indie Game: Revoltin’ Youth (Open Emotion Studios)

Best Windows 7 Game: Plants Vs Zombies (Popcap)

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