Planet Business

Richard Bruton’s week, the ‘MUP’ debate and the trouble with handsome men

Image of the week: Round-table disruption

There is beer, soft drinks, crisps but surprisingly little coffee in evidence at this meeting of like-minded computer nerds at the 24-hour TechCrunch Disrupt “hackathon” in London last weekend. TechCrunch Disrupt is a conference where “revolutionary startups”, equipped with “game-changing technologies”, make their debut and participate in Start-up Battlefield, a competition where the winner takes home a nice cheque and “the highly coveted Disrupt Cup”. The winner this time around was Jukedeck, an artificial intelligence music composition thing that allows users to create soundtracks for their own videos and podcasts. It sounds a bit niche, but it definitely has a cool name.

Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

In Numbers: Ultraluxe Apple


$1,990 The starting price for Phantom, an "ultraluxe" new wireless speaker by Devialet that went on sale in 14 Apple stores in the US this week and is likely to be debut at other Apple stores in 2016.

436 The number of Apple stores worldwide, with that tally likely to rise next year as Apple's senior vice-president of retail Angela Ahrendts oversees an expansion in China. (Hi Angela, come to Ireland?)

$5,775 The sum per square foot generated by Apple stores, according to eMarketer. This figure is higher for Apple than it is for all other retailers in the world. Not even Tiffany & Co can match it.

The Lexicon: MUP

Acronym of the week is MUP, which stands for minimum unit pricing, and is the bane of the life of the drinks industry. Through its lobby group the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, the industry says MUP will "punish moderate drinkers and hard- pressed consumers" and even send them over the Border. Northern Ireland will be introducing minimum unit pricing eventually, too, and then there's the rubbish exchange rate situation, but still the federation insists a thirsty nation's car boots will be clanking their way back down the M1. Meanwhile, everybody on the public health side of the debate, including Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, thinks minimum unit pricing is an excellent idea that will reduce alcohol consumption and those pools of vomit you see decorating the pavements the morning after the night before.

Getting to know: Handsome men

Are you a man who has been rejected for a job? Here’s the perfect way to rationalise this disappointment. Research by the UCL school of management into the travails of handsome men concludes that they tend to be rejected for competitive jobs (such as sales roles). This is because those who do the hiring associate good looks with competence and see the handsome man as threatening to their own position. “Managers are affected by stereotypes and make hiring decisions to serve their own self-interests, so organisations may not get the most competent candidates,” says UCL assistant professor Sun Young Lee. Not to worry – handsome men were still preferred over non-handsome men for jobs in “collaborative” workplaces that involve co-operating with others. Funny that.

The list: Richard Bruton’s week

Lately the diary notices from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation have been landing in press inboxes faster than they can be deleted. Why, it's almost like there's an election coming, or something. So where has the Minister's car rolled up this week?

1 Google Foundry What better way to spend a Sunday than doling out awards to young entrepreneurs on Barrow Street? (The big winner was the inventor of a wearable fertility tracker for women.)

2 #FinTech Monday The Minister was on hand for a press conference announcing 250 jobs (over three years) at technology company Infosys, which ominously wants to support innovation in global financial institutions.

3 Innovation Tuesday Excellence. Talent. Impact. No idea what that means, but it was on the blurb for a Convention Centre Dublin event at which the Minister outlined a vision in which Ireland becomes a Global Innovation Leader.

4 Another day, another lectern Wednesday began with the opening of the Brent suite in Sutton’s Marine Hotel and a chat to potential voters (local businesses) about Fine Gael’s long-term economic plan.

5 Alpha move After a stopover at the Mount Temple school, it was off to the “innovation cluster” DCU Alpha in Glasnevin for more posing in front of branded backdrops.