Planet Business

Cockroaches vs unicorns, craft beer stats, the ‘Export Cafe’ and a Twitter hearts update

Image of the week: The Export Cafe

Why is this man sitting on top of some giant hardbacks, studiously ignoring the fact that he is being watched by a plastic model of an oversized gormless fish? It's because this is Heathrow's temporary Export Cafe, a "unique installation" that showcases more than 25 of Britain's small business exports, including haberdashery, brochures and jam. Shiny precious metals are the biggest UK export to exit via Heathrow by value, but by weight the number one export via Heathrow is fresh salmon – some 46,000 tons of the fish were flown out in the 12 months to July, which, according to a report based on UK customs data, adds up to the same weight as 230 blue whales. The whales prefer Gatwick. (Photograph: Matt Alexander / PA Wire.)

In Numbers: Crafty business 

2 Percentage market share held by craft beer in Ireland, says yeast expert Alltech, which this week published its inaugural global craft beer survey. Hic!


10,000 Number of craft breweries worldwide, according to Alltech, which said new local breweries were "mushrooming" all over Ireland.

5 Number of craft breweries per 100,000 people in Switzerland. It ranked 39th for craft beer production, but came out top of the pile on a per head of population basis.

The Lexicon: Cockroaches

"Unicorns", the industry name for tech start-ups allegedly worth $1 billion or more, have been all the rage in 2015, but for Caterina Fake, co-founder of photo-sharing site Flickr, they might as well be imaginary. "I do think that the unicorns are highly overvalued," Fake told CNBC. Instead, investors should take a look at some of the "cockroaches" of the tech world, she advised. By cockroaches she did not mean ugly swarming flesh-eating start-ups but "very sturdy, hard-working and long-lasting" ones – "companies that will last through difficult times in the rise and fall of economics of tech". There are plenty of tech companies with bubbly valuations openly chasing unicorn status. But will any of them proudly declare themselves cockroaches? Kudos to the first one that does.

Getting to know: Kevin Weil

Twitter’s senior vice-president of product is a hearts man. When he’s not running “ultramarathons” his day job is to help the social media platform boost its revenues – and one of the ways he hopes to do that is by attracting new users via the magic of little red hearts. The ever-so-slightly teenage icon last week replaced the yellow star symbols known as “favourites” on Twitter to the immediate dismay of many users. Weil insists that it has already resulted in a 6 per cent uptick in users “liking” tweets. “It’s not something that we did lightly. We put a lot of thought into a change as fundamental as replacing star with heart.” A heart, he says, is a “much more inclusive symbol” than a star. So it’s goodbye to “favouriting” as a verb, then, and back to humdrum “liking”. Thanks Kevin.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics