What's with the tech sector?


I think rates are going up at the moment. So many graduates were scared so badly by the dot-bomb that they’ve been staying away from CS courses in droves. Once the crop of students who were already in CS courses when the dot-bomb dropped the number of new graduates dropped off a cliff. For now its good as it means wages are rising. I forsee problems later on though.

Don’t get me started about Web 2.0. I’m serious now - do not even be starting with me.

From my cold dead hand DD. I hate fiddly small physical interfaces. I’ve got RSI in both wrists and I have no plans to move to a palm or laptop anytime before I’m dead. They’ll need to make huge strides in making the physical interface nice and big and clunky before I’d consider giving my PC the bullet

@Grizzly Adams I had a split-keyboard from Microsoft two jobs (and a lifetime) ago. It was weird to start with but after I got used to it it was fecking brilliant and very easy on my RSI. They don’t make them much anymore and what there is of them is expensive. I REALLY wish I’d swiped the keyboard when I was leaving because they weren’t at all popular and it probably went straight into the bin.


Is it not this sort of a thing: amazon.co.uk/Microsoft-Natural-Ergonomic-Keyboard-B2M-00008/dp/B00122XC7I/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1307552819&sr=8-4
I like these, but they do take a bit of getting used to.


Voice recognition and bionic wrist transplants. XX

I reckon those who do lots of typing will still demand a decent keyboard, and they may get one. Its interesting here to read about all those keyboards that people have liked, all seemingly in the past. Keyboard innovation, like flying cars, is an old concern. Its the box that will become invisible, the fetish of personal choice in accessories will be maintained.


I have a very old PS2 clickty-click keyboard that I salvaged from a dump (among other fancier ones). Having used a type-writer (electric) in my youth, I just can’t get used to anything that doesn’t have a decent spring in it. ‘Data’ with fingers sliding over the glyphs I ain’t. I appear to have peculiarly non-resistant fingers, so I can’t get resistant touch screens to work without licking my fingers. PITH!


This is a watered-down version of my old keyboard. I was offered one of these at my current workplace but was unimpressed. The older version was considerably more split and it tipped up at the front for a very comfortable position (incidentally - anybody who uses the stilts at the back of your keyboard should be advised that its exactly the wrong thing for your wrists long term. Trust me…on the sunscreen.)

If only DD - if only :wink:

I’ll concede your point to a point. I also like being able to open up my own box upgrade it myself. And the smaller your box the more difficult it is to do. Its like having an old car - its much easier for the casual enthusiast to fix something. The newer your car is the more likely it is to need a lot of complicated equipment that is beyond the budget of the average user. I’m planning a hardware upgrade soon and it’ll be much easier because the case is big and with lots of room to insert upgrades.

One of my better keyboard was this ancient PS2 keyboard. I think it was a Wang keyboard (who remembers Wang?). It was very clickty-click and had some excellent bounce to it. But on top of that it actually had a small speaker in the back with a volumn control. When there was current running through it it would artificially make a louder clicking noise. Now that is some quality user-feedback. My old HCI lecturer would have throughly approved. 8DD


I remember their customer support slogan (a fictitious one, made up by the customers of course) … “WANG CARES”.


I remember when they had a large facility on the “Technology Campus” near the University of Limerick. The technology campus was a lovely idea to emulate the success of Silicon Valley and Microsoft in particular in attracting companies to the area who would employ many of UL’s graduates. It worked for a while. It still works to an extent I believe. My oh my. Back in the day. Back when the dot-com was booming…I’m getting all teary-eyed here.


The smart economy is back, but it’s a long way from Tipperary …

Supersmart Irishman sells UK’s largest software company, which he founded



Not fictitious, AFAIR - used to be writ large on a banner/poster on the a bridge side or over a tunnel entrance on the way out of Boston Airport (their HQ was in Lowell, MA). The guys from the Limerick operation always had a good snigger about it. Corporate couldn’t see the joke.


Anyone have any thoughts on how HPs divesting of its Computer, phone & handhelds divisions is going to impact their Irish operations ??

Apart from the Printing parts in Leixlip, & I think SW in Galway, what Ops do they still have here ?


Mostly it’s support isnt it? I thought…
Signals end of them in medium term I’d imagine


Best news I read for weeks - a proper entrepreneur in contrast to the spivs at the top of our food chain. Must confess I never heard of him before this. The fact that he is also billed as the first UK software billionaire surprised me - not the British part but the fact that nobody has done it already. It’s great to see an ethnically Irish person pulling this off.

Has Lynch ever commented on our high tech sector and how we might tweak our policies?


I’d heard of him, (can’t say I fully understood it though I did sit through a lecture on Baysian maths before)- was in the back of my mind to buy stock TBH, but anyway.

I thought this was a revealing quote:

“Lynch credits his early years with defining his choice of careers. “One of the reasons I ended up where I am today is that I didn’t know what a solicitor or an accountant did. We didn’t have any in my family or social circle.” He built a business instead.”

The fetish Irish business have for Big 4 bean counters is horrifying (even the Google Ireland CEO) - most Big 4 accountants will readily admit that they are so specialised that they aren’t properly rounded - a Mazars/BDO give much better training than auditing a series of hedge funds in the IFSC


Autonomy has been around for a while. I checked them out about 10 years ago but they looked like they were going nowhere. They suffered the usual UK problem, did not think big enough. Most recent growth has been through acquisition (including Verity, a truly bizarre company) but still only a 800M company. For reference there are Facebook game companies with bigger revenue.

As for a valuation of 12 times revenue. Expect HP to write down half this amount in the next 3 years, plus most of the balance sometime in the next 5. A complete waste of money used to hide the fact that Apotheker is just another Fiorina and has not the slightest idea about what he is doing.

Lots of Brits in the high tech business but UK companies tend to be non-starters. ARM does OK, Sage shuffles on, but PSION was the case study for just how crap UK high tech companies are at marketing in the US market. It was all culture. Even though David Potter had lived in So Cal for a while I always got the very strong impression that the whole freewheeling style of business in the US was somehow beneath him. He was much happier giving money to Blair and footling around on the Bank Of England Court of Directors than dealing with trying to make a success of the US market. And Colly Myers in your face Afrikaner approach really rubbed Americans up the wrong way.

As for Ireland and high tech, completely disappeared without trace. Its years since I’ve run into any Irish company of any note. The valley is full of Norwegians, Swedes and Finns but it is almost a decade since I’v run into anything Irish that had a hope in hell of even surviving a few years let along surviving the first cut of a Sand Hill Rd pitch. No balls, no ambition, no chutzpah. Just not plausible. You have to sound and look like a winner to even enter the game.

The only Irish company of note over the last 15 years that has anything to do with software is Riverdeep and that is little more than [mod edit: lets wait till Bary O’Callaghan has passed away till we discuss that. We will be waiting a while since he just few his dad down to Lourdes on his private jet seeking a miracle cure for the big c. at the end of his life so 20 years at least :slight_smile:]. They should have stripped Houghton Mifflen clean by this stage and it will be Chapter 11 soon. Another multi-billion dollar piece of asset stripping verging on outright theft. Riverdeep are pure parasites. Last time I did an estimate, pre HM acquisition, it looked like Learning Company / Riverdeep (pretty much the same people) had destroyed somewhere in the region of 20,000 direct and indirect software jobs in the US alone since the mid 1990’s. A lot of small / mid-size very profitable software companies where destroyed by these people. I’m sure they will add another 5,000 plus jobs to the toll by the time they are finished with Houghton Mifflen.


You do know the debt took over Riverdeep some time ago?




While that may be true of much of UK tech, it’s not the case with Autonomy. From a start up in 1996, Lynch built the world’s undisputed leader in unstructured search. While it’s a shame to see it go, the $10bn valuation was a fantastic result and the board was obliged to recommend a bid at ten times sales.

And ARM does a bit better than OK - it is the world’s most widely used architecture in mobile devices. The company could have curled up and died after the Acorn collapse but now commands an $11bn valuation. The sad thing is, hardly anyone in the UK has heard of either company.

Looking lower down the market cap range, there are many UK tech companies with the potential to reach these valuations. One of which is Blinkx, the world’s largest video search engine, valued at £350m. Mick Lynch spun this business out of Autonomy four years ago. He holds 7% of the business and, interestingly, HP will hold the 13% previously retained by Autonomy.

There are many other interesting opportunities: Avanti, DDD, Dot Digital, First Derivatives, IDOX, Innovation, Amino, Monitise, Software Radio and SQS, to name just a few publicly-listed ones.

Disclosure: I have an interest in some of those mentioned.


I saw some internal material from Goldman Sachs for another multi-national that valued Automony at around USD 5.6 million. HP are paying an extreme premium for a company that sits very badly with the greater HP. They are paying USD 10.2 billion, 11x last 12 months revenues and 8.7x estimated next 12 months revenues. The deal represents 17% of HP’s market capitalisation but less than 1% of its revenue base.

In 2010, HP generated revenues of USD 3.59 billion from software, a tiny fraction of their overall USD 126 billion revenue. Software earnings were c. USD 760 million.

HP are not a software company. Previous attempts to buy software have resulting in nothing but the destruction of value. They bought Palm for USD 1.2 billion and have written it off entirely.

Other previous software purchases have languished or died.

HP are a company without vision.


I don’t know about that. I think their vision is

Step 1. We want to be like IBM…
Step 2.
Step 3. Profit

I would agree that it doesn’t seem like a great plan. Also the relative revenue significance of Autonomy will be greatly increased when they offload the PC manufacturing. What I wonder is how much a PC manufacturing business is worth these days and will they allow the purchaser to leverage the HP brand or resurrect Compaq. If you want into that game, would you be better off starting from scratch?


I don’t know about that.

In 2010, HP had revenues of USD 126 billions and net income of USD 8.76 billion - 6.95%

The personal system (desktop, laptop) revenue was USD 40.74 billion with net income of around USD 1.56 billion - 3.8%.

The imaging and printing business revenue was USD 25.76 billion.

The server and storage hardware business revenue was USD 18.65 billion.

That is USD 85.15 billion from hardware - 67.6%.

In 2010, IBM had revenues of USD 99.87 billion and net income of USD 14.83 billion - 14.8%.

IBM’s software revenue was USD 22.49 billion with gross margin of 86.9%.