Google to invest in expanding Dublin European HQ

20 Oct 2009

Google CEO Eric Schmidt and local management at the company’s EMEA headquarters in Dublin have confirmed that the company is to expand its operations in the city, and this is likely to take place adjacent to its existing buildings.

Google in recent days reported a 7pc increase in third-quarter revenues of US$5.94 billion, prompting an optimistic Schmidt to say the worst of the recession is behind the company and that he plans to invest heavily in the company’s future.

And yesterday at Google’s global sales meeting in Killarney, Co Kerry, Schmidt, who arrived earlier that day in his Gulfstream jet, confirmed that Google’s Irish operations, which employ 1,500 people, will gain from an expansion.

He was in the scenic town of Killarney to address more than 2,500 Google employees as part of an annual pow-wow. While the rain beat on the windows of the Killarney hotel where he briefed journalists, the sun was about to shine in the conference centre where the “Googlers” patiently awaited their leader.

Schmidt’s background

Schmidt is one of the most powerful individuals in the global technology industry, was a former technology adviser to US President Barack Obama and recently stepped down from the board of Apple. He was previously CEO of Novell and chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems.

According to Forbes, he is the 129th richest person in the world and has a personal wealth of US$6.2 billion.

Schmidt said the majority of the company’s advertising revenues flow through the Irish operations and that Dublin’s docklands district where Google’s EMEA headquarters are based is the logical place for that investment. “It’s an absolute fact,” he added.

Schmidt did not elaborate on how much money will be spent on the Dublin expansion, nor did he outline how many new jobs will be created, but said future investments will be made in expanding the company’s enterprise products base and driving its Chrome browser into the enterprise world.

Schmidt said that during his time with Sun Microsystems he had a good working relationship with IDA Ireland and said his main motivation to invest as CEO of Google is the Irish workforce.

Out of recession

He said that for Google, the company is already out of the recession and this is a sign that advertising is on the road to recovery. “I’m not claiming that we predict globally all of the activity. It would be great if I could tell you as Google goes, so goes the world, I’m not making that claim. What we do know is we are an early signal for advertising, so we would think that we would be early on the cycle for advertising recovery. Advertising is a reasonable proxy for the health of a lot of consumer businesses.”

He said that Google saw the market bottom out around April and May and the recent quarter demonstrates how it is doing in the online advertising stakes.

Specifically in relation to Ireland, Schmidt said: “We benefit from the production of young people out of universities here, what has happened is the area of Dublin we are located in has become the hot area, a destination for talent. The majority of our global revenue goes through here and therefore as our global revenue expands we’ll be expanding consistent with that, and global revenues are growing faster than US revenue. We will be looking at increasing headcount. It is an absolute fact.”

Environment of innovation

The head of Google’s Irish operations, John Herlihy, said Google has created a rich, innovative environment in Dublin. “Our key challenge is to continue to innovate, continue to drive value for advertisers and so we will continue to invest. We are not the kind of company that says it plans to invest and sits still. We will focus on where can derive the most leverage and if Dublin is the correct place we will look to make that investment.”

Both Schmidt and Herlihy said any expansion is likely to take place adjacent to the existing Google operations in Dublin’s docklands area. “We think there’s a huge benefit to remaining in Dublin. It’s better to just expand – we do better with relatively large but tight environments, better referrals, the quality of candidates overall is better and the energy better.

Herlihy added that the Dublin operations are like an internal combustion engine for the company, a virtual UN where more than 65 languages are spoken by people from 60 countries.

Asked if cost-competitiveness was an issue that could impact Google’s hiring plans, Schmidt said it was the quality of people that the company is chasing.

“When Google looks at the Irish phenomena – this is still a very good place to be hiring. I’d prefer to put people here – I’ve got the workforce, they’re well educated, I’ve got the management team and the infrastructure is here already.”

By John Kennedy

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