Friendliness factor swings it for Twitter

 

IDA IRELAND may have to start measuring whether the State is living up to its reputation for the céad míle fáilte after a senior Twitter executive admitted that the “friendliness” the company encountered was one of the main reasons it decided to establish an Irish base.

Last month the rapidly growing social network said it was establishing an office in Dublin but provided no further details on how many jobs it might create or what role the operation would take on.

As a result there was standing room only when Tony Wang, general manager of Twitter in the UK, spoke at the Dublin Web Summit in the RDS yesterday.

In a short interview Mr Wang said that the availability of skilled staff and good technology infrastructure were among the main considerations when deciding on Twitter offices, but in Ireland the “friendliness” executives encountered was an additional factor.

Mr Wang’s appearance was tightly controlled by his public relations handler but in a question from the floor he was pressed on whether Twitter would locate lower-value support jobs in Dublin or would be hiring “core engineers”. The response suggested that Twitter was open to hiring developers but for now that work will be done in London.

More than 1,200 people are attending the two-day web summit which continues today featuring presentations from senior executives and founders of some of the world’s biggest technology and internet companies including Google, Microsoft, YouTube, Skype and Amazon.com.

The event, taking place for the seventh time and the brainchild of 27-year-old Trinity College Dublin graduate Paddy Cosgrave, attracts the world’s business and technology media to Dublin and reaffirms the city’s reputation as a major internet hub in Europe.

Mr Wang was followed on stage by Ronan Harris, director of online sales with search giant Google, who pointed out that his company does not just create jobs in Ireland, where it now has more than 2,000 staff. Since Google opened its European headquarters in Dublin in 2004 many talented staff have left to start their own firms, “creating jobs in Ireland”.

Five Irish start-ups got the chance to present their wares in the ESB Energy Ireland-sponsored Spark of Genius competition with a prize fund of €140,000 which includes a €100,000 seed investment from ACT Venture Capital.

Representatives of Boxpay, Hittheroad, RedeemGet, Vigill and Vocalytics made presentations and faced grillings from a panel which included Michael Birch, the founder of the once dominant social network Bebo.

It was also announced that Datahug, the winners of last year’s competition, has just closed a $1.5 million (€1 million) investment from a consortium of backers including Ron Conway, a legendary Silicon Valley figure who was an early investor in Twitter, Google and PayPal.

Enterprise Ireland announced a €10 million fund while IDA Ireland announced that three firms at the summit are establishing international headquarters in Ireland creating 65 jobs.