Hi-tech pioneer John Ryan is backer of 3D print firm MCor
WEALTHY Tipperary-born entrepreneur John Ryan, who built what became a €1.4bn Nasdaq-listed company, has invested millions in Irish technology companies.
California-based Ryan has invested in and is chairman of Louth 3D printing sensation MCor, which has just won €15m investment in new funding from Silicon VCs.
Start-up investor SVG, where Ryan is a partner, has backed the company with investment in the region of €2m.
"It's a unique company and I'm very proud to be associated with it," Ryan said. "It sold more printers in recent weeks than in the entirety of last year. The plan is for that rapid sales growth to be sustained and a new desktop version to be introduced later this year or in early 2015.
"I think it could be a substantial global company, there is a lot of interest from investors, many of whom are talking about taking the company public on the Nasdaq this year, but our objective is building the company and putting it on a secure financial footing."
Ryan has also invested in Silicon Valley-based company Compact Imaging, which was founded by Dubliner Josh Hogan and has just set up an Irish office. He is among several high-net-worth Irish investors involved.
The technology behind the company has applications including potentially a non-invasive way of detecting diabetes and tracking eye diseases, and there is collaboration on research with a team at NUI Galway.
He has invested in Grainne Barron's video ad creation company Viddyad.
Along with Tony Smurfit, former U2 boss Paul McGuinness and technology investor Cyril Maguire, Ryan has a stake in Skillpages, the jobs networking platform started by Perlico founder Iain MacDonald, and charity donation site Ammado, which has €40m funding.
"I'm extremely impressed with the talent coming out of Ireland," Ryan said. "The number of young Irish people that are highly creative, talented and ambitious is a delight to behold, the quality is second to none. Unfortunately their biggest limitation is capital. That's where ITLG comes in."
Ryan is also closely involved with ITLG, the high-powered body of Irish and Irish American Silicon Valley executives.
"The tragedy for some Irish companies is not enough capital for growth funding. They can end up selling almost in frustration or relocating to Silicon Valley and being lost to Ireland. A company like Skillpages needs €100m to make serious investment in growth, which can be difficult without relocating."
Skillpages, which Microsoft selected as one of its high potential start-ups, has 20 million users and is growing at a rate of one million users a month, with funding for another year or so, Ryan said.
Ryan visits Ireland around four times a year and has close business and personal ties here. He will speak at the ITLG's upcoming event in Limerick on January 28.
Ryan moved to California in the 1970s after working as a sound engineer for RTE. He invented the go-to anti-pirating technology embedded in every DVD player in the world.
His company Macrovision, later renamed Rovi, floated on the Nasdaq in 1997. He's the inventor of over 60 US patents in the fields of video copy protection.