O’Brien acquires minority stake in US technology start-up Spritz

Samsung announces link with start-up at Barcelona Mobile World Congress

Telecom billionaire Denis O’Brien has taken a minority stake in Spritz, a US technology start-up. Photograph: David Sleator

Telecom billionaire Denis O’Brien has taken a minority stake in Spritz, a US technology start-up. Photograph: David Sleator

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 01:00

Telecom billionaire Denis O’Brien has taken a minority stake in Spritz, a US technology start-up, which makes reading easier and faster on mobile and wearable devices.

Spritz was co-founded two years ago by serial entrepreneur Frank Waldman and the company is advised by former IBRC director Tom Hunersen.

Samsung announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday that it had agreed to make Spritz’s email application available on its Samsung Gear 2 watch and Galaxy S5 smartphones. “We’re reinventing the way people read by eliminating the obstacles associated with traditional reading on mobile devices,” Mr Waldman, the chief executive of Spritz said.

The new start-up works, he said, by streaming individual words in a special display that made it “easier, more efficient and more effective,” to read text on small screens like those on smartphones or watches.

Speaking from Barcelona, Mr Hunersen told The Irish Times he started advising Spritz in March 2013.

Mr Hunersen was previously head of corporate and institutional recovery at the former Anglo Irish Bank from October 2009 until the State decided to liquidate the bank in February 2013. He said he approached Mr O’Brien in December 2013 to see if he was interested in investing in Spritz.

Mr O’Brien is expected to appoint a board member to represent his interest in the coming months.

“Denis is always interested in the next thing and he was very interested,” Mr Hunersen said. “We were in the middle of a fundraising round and he decided to take a strategic stake.”

He said Mr O’Brien was initially interested to see if the product would help improve literacy in the developing world.