Irish tech hub the start of something big
Vibrant industry could develop in the way it has in San Francisco, according to Engine Yard chief executive John Dillon
John Dillon: "Companies are much more interested in looking at Ireland than they probably were 10 years ago. I think this is the beginning of a landslide."
Ireland has the potential to develop its tech community in a similar manner to San Francisco. That’s the opinion of Engine Yard chief executive John Dillon, who says the country’s tech start-up industry is in its growth phase.
“I think the Irish tech start-up community is just in its teenage years. It’s still a little awkward and not all together yet, but give it another generation.”
Ireland’s stock among overseas firms is edging higher, he says, as they search for possible locations for their European offices.
“The companies are much more interested in looking at Ireland than they probably were 10 years ago,” he says. “I think this is the beginning of a landslide.”
Dillon was in Dublin earlier in the month to talk to entrepreneurs about overseas expansion.
San Francisco headquartered Engine Yard makes product that is used by development teams for designing, building, deploying and managing applications.
It has customers in 65 countries, and has offices all over the world, with the growth of cloud services enabling its support teams to provide help to customers regardless of location.
Its chief executive has history with Ireland. Before bringing Engine Yard to the country in 2011 with the aim of creating 30 jobs over three years, Dillon was instrumental in locating Salesforce. com to Ireland, a move that was a little out of the ordinary.
“The Salesforce thing that we did was pretty unconventional at the time,” he says. “The manufacturing companies were coming here, but not the software companies – they were going to London.”
The Salesforce team was a small one initially, but it has since grown to more than 400, and announced last week that it plans to locate an additional 100 jobs at its second office in Dublin.
Dillon is hoping that he can replicate the same success with Engine Yard, which is based in Dublin’s tech hub around Google’s headquarters.
“I aspire to the same success as Google has. It’s possible, and I can do it here. Our business is intellectual property and people. We don’t build factories the way that some of the more industrial companies did. We don’t represent necessarily the large construction projects but we do represent a lot of jobs.
“They’re intellectually challenging, so they’re well-paid jobs, take advantage of the fact that the Irish population is generally well educated and they value intellect culturally – I think the Irish are known for it. We can have a large concentration in a single city; in our case we’re going to do it in Dublin.”
The Barrow Street premises currently holds a small team of 15 to 20 people, but Dillon is hoping to expand that further over time. Already the team has shifted its focus somewhat, with a core group of developers springing up, with much of the user-experience work – how users interact with Engine Yard’s platform – carried out here.