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Monday, October 10, 2011

WorldIrish.com a useful service but €20m annual profit is über-optimistic


WorldIrish.com, a website for the Irish, or anyone who has an affinity with Ireland, "harnessing the power of existing social networks while deepening the relationship of users to the Irish experience, across culture, arts, sports, media, business and science," was launched at the weekend to coincide with the second Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle.

It is claimed it will harness the phenomenal advances in Information and Communications Technology allowing the ‘Irish Tribe’ to come together in a gathering with unlimited global potential. Through the WorldIrish initiative Ireland will be the first country to embrace social media to co-invent a platform between a country and its Diaspora - - maybe but it does not appear to be a potential news portal.

It is not exactly original in that there are already several online Irish theme services including US ancestry sites and the Irish Times one.

WorldIrish.com was unveiled by John McColgan (co-founder of Riverdance, and Tyrone Productions):

“Today, around the world, it is evident that the power and potential of the internet and social networking to communicate on an unprecedented scale is influencing change in ways which would have, until recently, been unimaginable. The timing of a project like this is opportune as Dublin is now the leading capital for social media with the presence of giants such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and most recently Twitter. You don’t have to be Irish to be WorldIrish  - - anyone with an affinity with Ireland and Irishness from anywhere in the world can join,” said John McColgan, chairman of WorldIrish.

McColgan said he expects a profit of €20m per year in coming years, at the launch at Farmleigh House, in the Phoenix Park on Friday.

Worldirish.com will bring together Irish-centred social media content fromFacebook, Twitter and other websites to create a massive online Irish community. It is seen as a key tool for attracting investment toIreland, serving as a gateway to our culture, business, tourism and sporting sectors.
 
However, there is a limit to what the likes of Facebook will allow in terms of piggy-backing on its content. Twitter has already shutoff services that have depended on using its content.

A global advertising campaign would cost millions and given the economic crash in Ireland, it's only RTÉ, the State broadcaster, that can subsidise from the licence fee (despite what it claims) expensive online content.

Advertising is a not a sustainable model as there will be little from financial services, recruitment or property for many years.

Even with millions of users, e-commerce commissions from for example tourist bookings will also be thin gruel.

Meanwhile, the service will have to provide compelling content for users to regularly use the site.

The promoters said last weekend that in May of 2010 Gateway Ireland hosted a seminar in Dublin Castle.  It was attended by 300 delegates and with a range of guest speakers and panels.  Key members of the advisory board who have also invested to date include Denis O’Brien, Terry Clune and Dermot Desmond. The backers have believed in the project since the initial gathering at Dublin Castle. They are passionate about the opportunity for Ireland and believe the time is right for a site like this that allows people to express their affinity and pride in being Irish and let their creativity contribute to making a difference.

Following on from that seminar the process of building the site began in January of this year.  Working with a core staff and the best young Irish technology and design companies the process began and Gateway Ireland morphed into WorldIrish.com. Initially targeting the wider Irish community across the globe, the comprehensive online and offline marketing campaign will be tailored to target the various geographical and demographical elements that make up that market in the Social media space.

“WorldIrish.com is creating an API (application programming interface) that is an open platform on which it will develop its various online applications. The site is currently in beta and a range of applications and features will be rolled out over the coming months, working hand in hand with the community as part of a co-invention process” said Michael Baraga, newly appointed CEO of WorldIrish

To date €3m has been raised, out of which almost €1m has been spent getting the project to where it is today. Additional investment is now being sought.

Research shows that of the 70m Irish Diaspora, 49m are online today  -- this type of claim has echoes of the dot-com period..

Based in the centre of Dublin in Capel Street in the old Tram Terminus, "the project envisages operating as a thriving technology and media hub and is an opportunity to create a special place where WorldIrish will thrive."

Maybe and we wish these folks luck.

We have been around before Online.ie, an online portal was launched, as an Irish version of Yahoo and a gateway for the Diaspora.

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