Wednesday 13 December 2017

The Punt: The right-wing right-hand man

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

The Punt sat through one of the most entertaining lunchtime talks it has been to recently, even if it didn't entirely agree with the content.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce hosted a talk by Arthur Laffer, the former Economics adviser to former US President Ronald Reagan, below, and the man behind the famous Laffer Curve theory, which purports to show that lower tax rates for the rich will lead to higher tax revenues.

For close to an hour, he had the audience captivated.

He was engaging, funny, entertaining, and, well, pretty right-wing when it comes to tax policy.

The latter wasn't unexpected, however.

He espouses the mantra beloved by US Republic Party supporters (although he stressed he also was a fan of both JFK and Bill Clinton) that big government is bad, and tax is even worse.

If Mr Curve's still around town tonight, Ryan Tubridy should get himself and Clare Daly on 'The Late Late Show' to fight it out.

It's a smart Whip around

What do you do when your startup falls flat? Change what it does. Or, in tech industry jargon, 'pivot'.

That's what NewsWhip, the Dublin-based online media-aggregation startup founded by Paul Quigley and Andrew Mullaney did. When it launched in 2010, the company set out to be another online news and analysis outlet. But there were already loads of those, and it didn't have the critical mass to really challenge bigger players. So it changed its business model completely. It relaunched as a service for publishers and public relations companies, showing them which stories were trending, on which platforms and where.

"The idea was to map the spread of content across social media in real time, allowing newsrooms and communicators to quickly identify what is resonating in their niche," according to the company.

The switch worked. It has just landed a fresh funding round of $1.6m (€1.4m) from The Associated Press, AIB Seed Capital Fund, and US seed funds. That comes on top of an earlier funding round of €1m in 2013. NewsWhip is used by big players in the media world, including BuzzFeed, Bloomberg and the 'Daily Mail'.

Limerick grad fights giants

It's a big challenge to take on two of the world's biggest business information providers - Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters - but New York-based Irishman Morgan Downey has been ploughing ahead with an alternative market data platform to compete with the Goliaths.

A graduate of the University of Limerick, the 42-year-old is the chief executive of, and for four years prior to founding the business he was head of commodities at Bloomberg. He says his platform is available for an annual subscription of $1,140 a year - a small fraction of the $24,000 a year that's charged by Bloomberg for its service.

Downey started working as a commodities trader in Manhattan just two days after graduating from UL, and joined Bloomberg in 2010. He has also worked in banks in the UK, Australia and Singapore.

He told New York-based publication 'Crains', that he's not hoping to "wipe out" Bloomberg or Reuters.

"We're trying to give a Thomson Reuters or Bloomberg experience to people who have never seen [those platforms], and, if we're successful, never will."

The ultimate irony would be that either Bloomberg or Reuters ends up buying the thing. Or would that be a validation?

Irish Independent

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