MANNA AND FLIPDISH PARTNER TO DELIVER FOOD BY DRONE - The drone company that hopes to begin fast-food deliveries later this year has announced a partnership that will give customers access to more than 1,000 restaurants across Ireland.
The technology will mean anyone ordering food will have the option to select "drone delivery" when ordering through apps and websites. The drones themselves are expected to fly at over 80km/h and deliver food in under three minutes, a move that could revolutionise the take-away business. Manna, the Irish start-up which has been working its way slowly toward live testing later this year, has teamed up with Flipdish, the company that operates an online delivery platform used by restaurants and takeaways, writes the Irish Times. Should Manna prove successful in securing crucial Irish Aviation Authority licensing approval, it will become the guinea pig of a fledgling industry - autonomous drone flight. While details are scant, the first commercial tests will likely see food delivered to awaiting customers outside their homes, lowered down on a piece of string. The business model will see customers paying a delivery charge not far off what they might pay for a traditional service.
CAUSEWAY CAPITAL EYES €10m ONLINE SALES AT UK CHAIN - Causeway Capital, the Irish private equity firm that rescued the troubled Patisserie Valerie firm in the UK earlier this year, expects to more than triple the chain's online sales to £10m (€11.1m) in the next two years, according to Matt Scaife, an executive at the Irish firm.
He said that Patisserie Valerie - rocked by an accounting scandal that saw it fall into administration in January - will probably have between 100 and 150 outlets. It currently has 96, including two in Ireland, says the Irish Independent. "I suspect it's not going to be the size it once was," Mr Scaife said. "About 100 to 150 stores feels about right. I think the exciting bit and the growth for the business is the online side, where we think we could triple the size of that business." He said that Patisserie Valerie is currently generating about £3m (€3.3m) a year in online sales alone. "We think there's an opportunity to take that to £10m over the next two years," he added. Dublin-based Causeway Capital was founded in 2015 by investors including David Raethorne, the founder of software firm Helix Health. Helix Health was bought by US investment group Eli Global in 2014 for €40m. Mr Scaife was the chief financial officer at Helix Health.
US PROPERTY GIANT SET FOR €530m IRISH OFFICE SALE - US-based property investment fund Starwood Property Trust is understood to be preparing to sell a portfolio of offices in Dublin, in one of Ireland's biggest real estate sales.
Starwood is understood to have hired commercial property agents CBRE and Eastdil Secured to sell the offices in central Dublin for about €530m. The portfolio could be placed on the market as soon as next month, reports the Irish Examiner. Starwood bought the portfolio in 2015 as Ireland recovered from the worst property crash in western Europe after the global financial crisis. A host of international investors bought Irish real estate after the collapse, and have since sold on as prices recovered. The offering comes as Green Reit, one of the country's biggest property firms, is up for sale, and together, the two sales will represent a test of investor confidence in Ireland's latest real estate boom. Among the offices included in the Starwood sale will be the Watermarque Building in Dublin's so-called Silicon Docks area. Starwood's tenants in Dublin include Marsh and McLennan, Airbnb and WeWork.
US TRADE WAR WORRIES TECH WORKERS OF CHINESE DESCENT - Technology workers of Chinese descent say that they are experiencing backlash due to the US-China trade war and fears over Huawei, according to a survey commissioned by the Guardian through Blind, an app allowing anonymous workplace communication.
"With the trade war against China and especially the Huawei case I feel like a target more and more every day," an anonymous Amazon employee wrote in a comment on the app, which is popular among technology employees and verifies employment through work emails. "I can’t even feel comfortable about being Chinese because so many Americans see China as a threat now." The Guardian asked Blind to commission the survey after the Trump administration escalated tensions in the growing trade dispute by declaring a national economic emergency and placing Huawei on a government blacklist. The move had immediate consequences for Silicon Valley companies that do business with Huawei, which is the second-largest smartphone maker in the world after Samsung and ahead of Apple. Google blocked Huawei's access to updates of the Android operating system and other US chipmakers cut off supplies to the company. More than 6,000 Blind users responded to the question, "Do you predict that there will be negative consequences for people who are connected to China/perceived to be Chinese due to the growing tensions of the US-China trade war and concerns over Huawei?" Respondents were also asked if they were Chinese citizens, Chinese Americans, or of other East Asian ethnicities. The survey is not a scientific poll, but it does provide some insight into sentiments among tech workers who use the app to discuss workplace issues with anonymity.