I am electronics engineer. I graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1978, and subsequently completed my PhD in the Computer Science Dept. by 1983. I then spent a year working as a civil servant in Brussels for the European Commission’s ESPRIT programme.
Starting with an initial investment of 1,250euro each, Sean Baker, Annrai O’Toole and I grew IONA, without any venture capital but taking a minority investment from Sun Microsystems in Mountain View in 1993. I was CEO, and also the lead architect and developer for our product Orbix. We took the company public in 1997 using Lehman in what was then the 5th largest IPO in the history of Nasdaq. At one point during this period, the company was one of the largest top ten software companies by revenue in the world, having over 1,200 staff in 22 offices worldwide.
I retired as CEO and Chairman in 2000, but returned as CEO from 2003 until 2005 to rebuild the company. The Company was sold in September 2008, using Lehman: the deal was completed fortunately in the week just before Lehman imploded.
I have served as chair of various technology companies and Irish national policy groups.
I served for a time as a non executive director of both Chaco and Baltimore Technologies in the early 1980s, both of which were serving the Irish consultancy services market; and on the board of CR2 from 2001-03, an e-banking channels company. I served on the board of Sepro Telcom, with its rating technology, and including its exit to Opennet in 2003; and on the board of LeCayla, a SaaS billing services company for ISVs, including its 2008 exit to Opsource in Santa Clara. I was chair of Cloudsmith, which provided support for “dev-ops” and deployment to the cloud, from its founding in 2006 to its successful sale to Puppet Labs in 2013. I was chair of Sophia, a semiotic based ad tech company, from 2010 through to its sale to Boxfish in 2016.
I have an interest in China and was the founding chair of the Ireland China Association. I am a former chair of UNICEF Ireland for seven years until 2008; former chair of the Irish Brain Research Foundation for three years, including overseeing its merge into the Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience in 2005; former chair of the Irish Management Institute for six years; former chair of the Community Foundation of Ireland; was chair of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce e-City working group; and founding chair of the Government’s Expert Group on Future Skills. I have also served on the IBEC national council and on its ICT Ireland; the advisory board to what is now the DCENR (Dept. of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources) for the nationwide provision of “open access” metropolitan area networks in towns and smaller cities; the board of Trinity College Dublin and, separately, its Foundation Board; the board of Science Foundation Ireland; the board of UUTech, the technology spin-out arm of the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland; and the business advisory board of Georgia Tech. Ireland. I was chair of CTVR, a research initiative in advanced telecommunications, for six years. I was President of Engineers Ireland, the professional body for Engineering in Ireland in 2009-10. I was a member of the Innovation Taskforce, an advisory group established by the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), which reported to Government in February 2010. I was a member of the consequent Implementation Group to oversee execution of the Taskforce recommendations, until the change of Government in March 2011 (the new administration has yet to take any public position on the work of the Innovation Taskforce). In 2012, I was a board director and advisor to the World Irish project headquartered in Dublin, an initiative by John McColgan (of Riverdance fame) to link those interested in everything Irish worldwide. I was the founding chair of the Science Gallery, an outreach initiative for young adults, first as chair of the fund raising board in 2007; and then chair of the governance board since the Gallery opened in 2009 until October 2012. From January 2013 to March 2016 I became chairman of the Northern Ireland Science Park Connect Initiative in Belfast.
I have also served on various award and competition panels, most recently the 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 Dublin Chamber of Commerce’s David Manley awards and the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Irish Times Innovation Awards.
I am currently a member of the board of Hypergrid (formally Gridstore), based in Mountain View; and chair of the Science Gallery International to bring the Science Gallery (see above) concept to a number of other cities around the world – watch our video.
Since December 2011 I have been informally working with the Atlantic Bridge technology investment team, many of whom I have known and respected for many years. In early 2016 I became a partner at the firm, and am now running the University Bridge Fund (targeting spin-ins and spin-outs) with my business partner Helen McBreen.
I published my first ebook and paperback in February 2017, as a set of edited reminiscences on the life of Professor John Byrne, the founder and former Professor of Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin.