Tuesday 22 January 2019

Self-driving Waymo taxi milestone for Irish duo

Dublin football manager Jim Gavin speaking at the breakfast event
Dublin football manager Jim Gavin speaking at the breakfast event

Independent.ie Business

Two Irishmen in Silicon Valley will have noted the milestone earlier last week of Google self-driving car spinout Waymo officially launching its taxi service in Arizona.

Gerard Dwyer - a Tipperary native and UCD graduate - has been CFO of the business since 2016, prior to that he spent 10 years with Google.

Meanwhile, design engineer John Massey - a former lecturer in mechatronics at Blanchardstown IT - has been closely involved in the design of the car's self-driving system, which uses lidar, radar, cameras and computer hardware.

Speaking to Ergo at the Waymo headquarters in California recently, Dwyer said one reason he takes a personal interest in the success of the technology - and in particular its potential to make the roads safer - is that one of his relatives and several former colleagues have been killed in car crashes.

In rural Ireland, he said, it has the potential to bring cheap mobility to people who may be currently reliant on poor public transport, while it also challenges town planners and even hotel developers to think anew.

Less on-street parking will be needed and fewer people will need hotel rooms if they can sleep in their cars while travelling home from a distant location.

Businesses might even sponsor self-driving taxis to bring customers to spend money with them, he added.

Irish startups should think about how the cars will be a platform through which to offer products and services on a route or in an area, and how they might be connected, quite possibly with Google's help, he suggested.

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Tax and accountancy firm Smith & Williamson held a breakfast event last week at which Dublin football manager Jim Gavin spoke about the importance of teams and leadership.

He spoke about the parallels between sport and business and the importance of teamwork for both.

Gavin, who was there in his capacity as an ambassador for Irish charity Bothar, shared his experiences from the Army, aviation and football management — all of which helped him learn how to build successful teams.

Dealmaker Murphy puts €1bn fund plans on pause

Dominic Murphy, dubbed by the Financial Times as the “star dealmaker” behind the £12bn buyout of pharmacy chain Boots, has had to abandon the launch of a new €1bn fund.

Murphy was formerly a partner at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and more than 10 years ago it emerged he was tax domiciled in Ireland.

He played a key role in KKR’s investments The Hut Group, LGC, SBS Broadcasting and Webhelp.

He set up a new firm, called 8C Capital, last year and was in the process of raising €1bn to invest in healthcare and consumer services.

However, the fund co-founder, Kugan Sathiyanandarajah, is returning to a role at KKR. Investors of the fund were recently informed of developments and Murphy is said to be looking for new partners for the fund.

According to the FT, Murphy is now “taking stock” in relation to his next move.

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