Early days for Twitter in Dublin as it prepares to spread its wings
A walk around Twitter’s HQ in Dublin shows it’s no beanbags and T-shirts start-up – its culture is all about passion and hard work
Twitter Dublin’s MD Stephen McIntyre: “When you get in at this early stage, you just have a chance to have an impact that doesn’t necessarily exist in excellent companies that are bigger.” photograph: bryan o’brien
Technology start-ups have a lot of stereotypes to live up to. There is the perception of the younger workforce, of a place where every day is dress down Friday and you can work from wherever takes your fancy, as long as you can get an internet connection.
However not all tech firms conform to the stereotypes and there is still serious work to be done.
Twitter, the social network that has turned updating your friends, family and random internet strangers with news – important or not – in less than 140 characters into an art, may not be considered a start-up by the majority of people. It has been around since 2006 and has only surged in popularity in more recent times – in Ireland, at around the start of the property/bank collapse – but Stephen McIntyre, Twitter Ireland’s MD, says it’s still early days for the company in Europe.
“What I think Twitter has in common with a company like Google is [that] it’s product focused, innovation focused, it’s high growth,” he says. “The biggest thing that makes it the most enjoyable job I’ve had is that it’s early stage in Europe. When you get in at this early stage, you just have a chance to have an impact that doesn’t necessarily exist in excellent companies elsewhere that are bigger.”
At Career Zoo in the Convention Centre last year, McIntyre told attendees they still had the chance to get in at an early stage with the company, and be among the first 50 employees at Twitter Dublin.
That figure has now grown to around 100. The company is on its third office since setting up in Ireland, having outgrown the previous two buildings. These days, it’s located in the Academy on Pearse Street, in bright, airy offices formerly occupied by Popcap.
The move is strategically timed for Twitter, as it is planning to double in size in Dublin, adding 100 jobs before the end 2014. Those vacancies are attracting a good deal of interest, despite the fact that it doesn’t quite meet the start-up stereotype. There are no on-site gyms, for example, or pet policies – not even a bird is allowed in the Twitter offices – and staff generally work at their desks instead of on beanbags around the office.
On a Monday afternoon, it was a hive of activity, with staff busy at their desks chasing calls, while others held meetings in the company’s canteen, or hosted a webinar.
The office is open plan. Not even top level managers have their own office. Instead, work spaces are collaborative, with meeting rooms of all sizes available for those who need more privacy from time to time.
“Some of the culture here has a local flavour, and some is built from the culture in San Francisco,” says McIntyre. “The culture in SF is very much an informal one, and that’s an element we’ve tried to recreate here, while also adding our own dimension.”
That local dimension can be seen even in the staff canteen, where cups have the hash tags #tae and #caife.
Twitter hasn’t escaped all the trappings you’d expect from a Silicon Valley tech company. The meeting rooms, for example, are creatively named, with birds the obvious choice. Walking around the office gives you an education in exotic wildlife.