Barry Napier is Business Person of the Year

Cubic Telecom CEO Barry Napier landed one of the biggest deals of its kind for an Irish-founded tech company.

Barry Napier, the CEO of Irish tech business Cubic Telecom, has been crowned Business Person of the Year at The Irish Times Business Awards for 2023, in association with Bank of Ireland.

Just before Christmas, the Napier signed a deal to sell a controlling stake in Cubic to Japanese lender Softbank for €473m.

“We were able to put Ireland on the map, so I’m really proud to be able to stand here and say that”

The deal – which values the company at around $1bn, giving it the coveted status of tech “unicorn” – is one of the biggest ever for an Irish-founded tech company.

The businessman will remain in situ at the helm of the company he founded in 2005 and also retains a shareholding in the Irish tech group.

Driving the future

People at an awards ceremony.

Cubic Telecom is the communications brains behind the business of smart vehicles. Its technology allows carmakers like Audi to monitor, manage and update their vehicles in real-time.

Napier was named Business Person of the Month by The Irish Times in December.

“We had a real good table behind us that backed us, really good investors, and we were able to put Ireland on the map, so I’m really proud to be able to stand here and say that,” Napier was quoted in The Irish Times upon accepting the award.

Napier was presented with his award by the Minister for Finance Michael McGrath, TD, during a ceremony at the Round Room of the Mansion House in Dublin last night (22 February).

He follows in the footsteps of previous winners that include Barry Connolly, co-founder of Fulfil Nutrition; Anne Heraty, former head of recruiter CPL; then managing director of Ornua’s global foods division Róisín Hennerty; brothers John and Patrick Collison of payments group Stripe; and Siobhán Talbot, then group managing director of Glanbia.

Fellow tech entrepreneur Terry Clune, CEO of CluneTech, won Deal of the Year after the business agreed to sell its payroll software developer Immedis to US multinational UKG in a deal worth €575m, valuing Clune’s holding at around €345m.

Clune was named Business Person of the Month by The Irish Times in June last year.

Local Business Award

People on stage at an awards ceremony.

Wexford-based Killowen Farm, also known as Greenvalley Farms Ltd, won the Local Business category, which is also sponsored by Bank of Ireland.

Owners Nicholas and Judith Dunne took over Ireland’s oldest farmhouse yogurt in 2004 and in 2005, moved the yogurt production to their own dairy farm in Courtnacuddy, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

The Dunnes have been prominent farmers in the region for more than 200 years.

In 2022 the business revealed a €4m expansion that will see the dairy producer’s workforce almost double with the addition of 25 new jobs. It will also enable the business to grow its cream cheese production through the development of a new production line.

A breakthrough deal with ALDI in Germany opened the door for the business to export to Europe and today Killowen exports to international markets including Dubai, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

Future Leader

Monaghan-based entrepreneur Sam Moffett won the Future Leader category, which was sponsored by EirGrid, operator of the national electricity grid.

He founded Moffett Automated Storage in 2017 and the company specialises in providing automated pallet storage and warehousing solutions for clients.

In late 2023, Moffett won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award and has a stated ambition to build the business into a billion-dollar company.

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.