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Thursday, August 19, 1999 Published at 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK


UK: Northern Ireland

Internet video firm creates more jobs

Online video firm has secured international funding

An online video retailer in Northern Ireland is to create 75 jobs after securing major international investment.

Blackstar, based in Belfast, generates profits from a vast store of more than 50,000 videos and digital video disc titles.

It is rapidly expanding and hopes to float the company on the stockmarket.

Set up 18 months ago, the company is a relative newcomer to the Internet and says it needs cash for a loud marketing campaign to fight its high street rivals.

But already Atlas Venture, which specialises in investing in technology focused companies, together with a group of Texas businesses, have invested $6m in the Northern Ireland company.

Triple workforce

As a result the firm is now having to triple its workforce.

Director Darryl Collins says the company is expanding by the week as the Internet business grows.

"As of last week we had 24 employees," he said. "I think this week its 36.

"With the sort of growth rates that we're having to anticipate, it's quite possible that that will be 100 by say March next year."

Blackstar hopes the funding will help propel it further into the world of electronic commerce, and that this could be one of the first Internet-related flotations for a Northern Ireland company.

Blackstar was started by three young people on an old pingpong table in an office on the Ravenhill Road in Belfast.

The company claims revenue growth has surged by more than 30% every month from a loyal customer base spanning 95 countries.

Sales and exports

It does not have any any high street outlets and therefore say they have significantly fewer costs.

The UK company says they are, however, managing to challenge US online giants to some extent, because video formats are incompatible.



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