Successful social networking site Facebook, for which Microsoft paid US$240m for a 1.6pc share to value the company at €1bn, is understood to be considering locating its European headquarters in Dublin.
If Facebook decides to locate in Dublin it will be joining other internet players like Google, Yahoo! and eBay who were attracted to the city’s large data centre infrastructure capacity and attractiveness to IT workers from all across Europe.
According to a report in this morning’s Irish Times, it is not clear whether Facebook will establish IT infrastructure in the city or whether it will go further and locate major business administration and R&D functions here in the same fashion as Google.
Google, for example, employs over 1,500 people in Dublin across a diverse range of business functions and it was reported earlier this week that the internet search giant has lodged a proposal for planning permission to pave the way for a further 500-job expansion in Barrow Street.
Facebook, which was founded in 2004 by Harvard graduate Mark Zuckerberg, began life as a social network site for Ivy Leaguers in the States but has since grown to become one of the internet’s outstanding success stories.
The site is understood to generate advertising revenues of US$1.5m a week and according to traffic analysis by Alexa it is the seventh most visited site in the world.
Facebook’s emergence as an internet powerhouse has already raised the ire of privacy advocates over its project Beacon which would alert users’ friends if the user made a purchase on a participating third-party website, for example if they bought a book on Amazon.com.
It is understood Facebook has over 60m users worldwide, including around 190,000 users in Ireland.
Facebook is also credited with creating a thriving market for third-party software developers to throw applications out online for public consumption. Sligo-based social marketing player Nooked’s Big Brother 8 widget has featured on the site and Useamap.com, an Irish company that enables users to create custom maps for their websites or blogs, has made its service available on Facebook
By John Kennedy