Stripe chief warns about housing costs as Dublin engineering hub announced

Dublin engineering team to focus on online payments firm’s core product

Stripe chief executive Patrick Collison: “We have a great national strength in being outward-looking.” Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Stripe chief executive Patrick Collison: “We have a great national strength in being outward-looking.” Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

 

Stripe, the fast-growing online payments company established by Limerick brothers Patrick and John Collison, is to open an engineering hub in Dublin in a move that will create “a few dozen” jobs locally.

The San Francisco-headquartered company, which already employs about 100 people at its European headquarters in Dublin’s docklands, said it had taken the decision to set up its international engineering hub – its first outside of the US – in the Irish capital only in the past week.

The Dublin engineering team will be working on Stripe’s core payments product, which is used by some of the biggest companies in the world.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland on Monday morning, chief executive and co-founder Patrick Collison said that the company chose Dublin as the firm already employs about 100 people in Dublin today, while the second reason was that “Dublin has come into its own as a technology sector and is really going from strength to strength.”

While the tax landscape in Ireland was a factor, it was not the most important one. Collison said the regulatory landscape, the tax landscape, cost of living, talent pool and access to flights were all contributory factors to the decision.

Mr Collison said that the firm will start by recruiting a couple of dozen employees for the new unit, but added that he can see it getting “significantly larger” in the years ahead.

“This is not just tertiary, it’s not just an experiment or a side project, we’ll be working on our core offerings in Dublin,” he said.

Collison said that Ireland’s outward looking view and positive outlook were a plus of being located here.

“Ireland needs to give itself a bit of credit. We sometimes have a tendency to be a bit self-critical. But I think as the world is becoming in some ways at least, a bit more turbulent, the fact that Ireland maintains its outward looking and positive outlook. I really think that is to our credit,” he said.

However, he warned that Stripe will be paying close attention to housing costs, which could, he said, “ be a major impediment”.

“I think we collectively need to figure out ways to keep them in check,” he said, adding that Ireland needs to maintain its position as the most attractive place for people from around the world to make a home .

“Silicon Valley does not breed great technology. Instead the smartest people from around the world tend to move to Silicon Valley,” he said,d rawing a comparison between the two hubs.

Engineers

The firm’s decision is seen as a significant win for Ireland as the firm still very much considers itself to be an engineering company at heart. It comes hot on the heels of Stripe hiring Belfast-born David Singleton – who previously led Google’s Android Wear and Google Fit initiatives – as its head of engineering.

“It is a very big milestone for the company to take engineering outside of the US and we’re very excited that it is going to be based in Dublin given our heritage,” Mr Singleton told The Irish Times.

While the company would not be drawn on exactly how many jobs would be created in Dublin, Mr Singleton, who previously opened Google’s office in London, said he expected Stripe would take on a “few dozen” engineers over the coming years.

It has already started hiring for a number of positions, including engineering managers and “full stack, backend/API” and support engineers.

“The Dublin team will be focused on core functionality in payments, which is the heart of the engine that powers our business and helps serves our users,” said Mr Singleton.

Stripe, which was founded in 2009, offers payment-processing services for online and mobile transactions. It supports credit-card payments in more than 130 different currencies, bank transfers, Alipay and WeChat Pay.

It previously also accepted bitcoin but recently announced plans to end support for such payments.

The company founders, who are both still aged under 30, joined the billionaires club last year, according to an Oxfam report. Stripe itself is valued at $9.2 billion following a number of investment rounds.

Stripe, which employs more than 1,000 people globally, handles billions of dollars in transactions each year.

It started off securing small clients but now counts companies such as Macy’s, GE, Adidas, Docusign, Slack, Nasdaq and the NFL among its customers. In Ireland, An Post and the GAA use its services.

“While we’re available in 25 countries, there are 175 countries in which we would like to be more available, so there is still a lot of work to do. We think there is still so much more that is possible,” Mr Collison said.

Stripe has received about $450 million in funding to date from investors, including Sequoia Capital, Visa, American Express, Peter Thiel and Elon Musk.

While some tech companies have expressed concerns over hiring skilled IT professionals in Ireland, Mr Collison praised Ireland for continuing to welcome foreign nationals to come and work here.

“We have a great national strength in being outward-looking and excited about the greater world and our integration with it. Obviously, in some parts of the world things have taken a more nationalistic, inward-looking turn over the last few years, but we’ve really resisted that and that is something Ireland should take some pride in,” he said.