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What Are Tech’s Biggest Companies Up To In Ireland?

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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On St Patrick’s Day, we take a look at the biggest tech firms attracted to Ireland by talent, taxes and the craic

Over the past few decades, some of the biggest technology companies in the world have flocked to Ireland to establish offices and European headquarters.

Dublin, Cork and Limerick are just some of the places hosting these huge corporations, helping to establish a tech community on the Emerald Isle and stimulating Irish startups.

Before it left Dublin for the warmer climes of Lisbon, Web Summit had established itself as one of the biggest technology events in Europe.

Some say the technology industry is attracted to Ireland because of a talented, educated workforce, young population and because the country is the only English-speaking nation in the Eurozone. Others suggest the fondness for Ireland is because of its favourable tax rates.

Whether is for tax, talent or just the craic, Amazon, eBay, IBM, Twitter, Airbnb, Yahoo, PayPal and Oracle are just a handful of companies that have traversed the Atlantic. Here are other examples of how Silicon Valley has become Silicon Docks.

Apple

Tim Cook Apple CEO IrelandApple has its only headquarters outside the US in County Cork and a recent pledge to create 1,000 jobs there will increase the company’s Irish workforce to 6,000. The Hollyhill facility opened in 1980 and will be expanded to accommodate the new intake.

The Irish government says the company has an “enormous impact” on job creation in the country and estimates Apple supports at least 18,000 positions.

Apple has also committed to support sustainable offshore energy in Ireland and is building a brand new €850 million data centre in County Galway, which TechWeekEurope exclusively revealed will be designed by Arup.

Ireland is very happy having Apple in Cork, but the European Union (EU) is less jovial. It is investigating whether the Irish government’s willingness to let Apple house billions of pounds of revenue in the country for tax reasons amounts to state aid.

However Apple CEO Tim Cook has said it is committed to Ireland regardless of the EU’s decision.

Google

Speaking of tax, Google opened its EMEA headquarters in Dublin back in 2003 with 100 employees. Now the office is the search giant’s largest outside the US and employs 2,500 people working in customer support, multilingual editing and finance. The company also has a data centre in the Irish capital and is building a second €150 million facility.

Google has four properties in the city, including one in the docklands area which has contributed to the area’s nickname of ‘Silicon Dock’, acting as a magnet for startups and other major tech companies.

However Google routes advertising sales through its Dublin office so it benefits from a 12.5 percent rate of corporate tax rather than the 20 percent rate In the UK and higher percentages in other European countries.

Google argues that other offices, such as those in the UK, are ‘agents’ for the Irish office and therefore the Irish rate is applicable. The UK, EU and other authorities are looking into the matter.

Dell

LimerickDell employs 2,500 people in Cork, Dublin and Limerick, working in services, sales, operations, finance and marketing. Dell’s head of EMEA, Aongus Hegarty is a Limerick native and the company set up shop in his hometown in 1990.

Limerick is home to one of Dell’s 15 ‘solution centres’ and was where the company opened its first Internet of Things (IoT) lab in Europe last year. In 2015, it created 100 new research and development jobs at the facility.

However Limerick once played host to a manufacturing plant before PC assembly was transferred to Lodz in Poland, resulting in the loss of 1,900 jobs. There was also a reported knock on effect on small businesses and component makers that relied on trade from Dell and its employees.

Despite this, Dell was still the third-biggest technology firm in Ireland by revenue in 2015.

Microsoft

Microsoft arrived in Ireland In 1985 when it opened a manufacturing plant employing one hundred people. It now has 1,200 full time employees and 700 contractors at its base in County Dublin, working in software development and testing, localisation, operations, finance, IT, HR and sales & marketing.

The Sandyford facility is also home to a €750 million data centre, which has become the subject of a legal battle with the US government who wants access to emails stored in its servers for the purpose of criminal investigations.

Microsoft opposes the move and said that if it is forced to hand over the information, it will open a “new set of risks” for its Irish operations.

Facebook

DublinAre you on Facebook? Then more likely than not your account is managed from Dublin, where the company opened its International headquarters in 2009, hiring 30 members of staff?

The social network now employs 1,300 people across 50 teams in its sales, community, infrastructure and operations divisions. It recently announced plans to create another 200 jobs in the city and will open a ‘partner centre’ – its first outside the US.

Here, businesses will be able to check out Facebook’s products such as Oculus Rift VR and the upcoming Facebook at Work.

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