Dublin rapidly becoming the ‘internet capital of Europe’

1 Apr 2010

Now the location of choice for international headquarters of companies such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, eBay and Gala Networks, Dublin is on its way to becoming the internet capital of Europe.

However, warns IDA chief executive Barry O’Leary, the country must move to ensure it has the high-speed communications infrastructure to support investments outside the capital because further flagship announcements are expected for elsewhere in the country.

Hundreds of new jobs for Dublin

In just one week, Dublin received welcome jobs news in the form of more than 400 new internet jobs for the city.

eBay, which already employs more than 1,600 people at its Blanchardstown site together with PayPal, its online payment system, revealed plans to create 150 new permanent positions in customer service, personal account management and process enhancement.

This was followed by news of 200 new jobs from IBM at its first-ever IBM Smarter Cities Technology Centre, which aims to revolutionise how cities provide services such as water and transport. This project will have internet technology at its core.

It then emerged that social networking service LinkedIn is setting up its international headquarters in Dublin. The jobs are expected to include a variety of business and technology roles, including positions in sales, marketing, finance and customer service. The company says it will manage its international expansion from Dublin, working with teams in London and the Netherlands.

Word of companies’ expansions

These internet-based investments come hot on the heels of announcements in recent months by Japanese internet gaming giant Gala Networks, which is expanding with 103 new jobs. It has been rumoured that social gaming firm Zynga, which has become a US$300m a year player on the back of games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, is mulling a move to Dublin.

In October, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said he is planning to expand the 1,500-strong Google operations in Dublin. Meanwhile, Facebook, which came to Ireland with the objective of creating 60 positions, is now recruiting 140 jobs.

Cork, too, is undergoing an internet storm. The city, which has been host to Apple Computer since the Eighties, is generating hundreds of internet-based jobs. Security software player McAfee is establishing a 120-person tech support operation in Cork and the world’s No 1 games company, Activision Blizzard, has hired 740 people in the last several months in Cork.

Big Fish, which employs 350 people, is to create the 100 jobs at its Mahon facility in Cork.

“There is no doubt about it, we have the leading brands and are adding to it with visibility on other big names coming down the track,” O’Leary explained.

“We have these companies in concentrated areas. The challenge for us is to continually identify young companies whose growth is accelerating and get them to Ireland.”

O’Leary said that IDA executives are concentrating on places like Mountain View where companies such as Google are headquartered to identify fast-growth companies.

“Our guys are in tune at a very early stage with how these companies are developing.”

Broadband outside cities, too

On the subject of broadband, O’Leary said it was vital the country concentrates on making high-speed broadband available ubiquitously and not just in built-up cities.

“It’s all about next-generation networks and this impacts not only companies in the internet space but other industries too. The reality is many executives who work for these firms will want to work remotely.

“Suffice to say that if we are attracting these high-calibre technology companies, we have to have the technology sophistication to cater for their people. There’s a shift occurring in the economy – if we are to provide services globally it’s going to be over the internet,” O’Leary said.

By John Kennedy

Photo by Conor McCabe

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years