Tumblr-owner plans expansion of Irish hub with more work-from-home staff

Dublin-registered Automattic spent €51m on R&D last year

Automattic, valued at $3 billion,  was founded by Texan tech millionaire Matt Mullenweg.

Automattic, valued at $3 billion, was founded by Texan tech millionaire Matt Mullenweg.

 

The Dublin-registered global research and development hub for the company that owns blogging sites Tumblr and Wordpress. com says it is planning further expansion of its Irish operations, as it shrugged off the impact of Covid-19 as “not significant” because all of its staff work from home anyway.

The software company Automattic, founded by Texan tech millionaire Matt Mullenweg and valued at $3 billion (€2.5 billion), posted losses of €21 million last year in its Irish hub, Aut O’Mattic A8C Ireland.

This was a near 30 per cent improvement on the previous year, however, as it narrowed losses from €29.7 million.

Operations

The Irish unit, which also controls Automattic’s operations in the UK, Canada, Australia and South Africa, posted a 19 per cent rise in sales last year to €71.6 million, according to accounts recently signed off by the group. The Dublin company spent €51 million on research and development last year, the accounts state. It has accumulated losses of about €133 million since Mr Mullenweg set up the Irish hub in 2014.

Aut O’Mattic A8C attributes €46.7 million of its sales to activities in Ireland and €24.9 million to its South African operations. It is propped up with €120 million in loans from its Californian parent, which was valued at $3 billion last year in a fund raising led by cloud computing investor, Salesforce Ventures.

In addition to its brands such as note-taking application Simplenote and the Gravatar avatar service, Automattic also provides cloud computing services, support contracts, as well as selling premium services to users of Wordpress.com, which operates using the open-source Wordpress software.

One of Automattic’s early purchases was Poll Daddy, which it bought in 2008 from Mayo-based entrepreneur David Lenehan, who now sits on the Irish hub’s board.

Staff

Automattic is known in Silicon valley as having a “fully distributed” staff who work entirely from home. Mr Mullenweg shut its San Francisco headquarters office a couple of years ago, after he noticed that there were “more games tables than people” there each day, as staff chose to work remotely.

Its headcount of 1,300 staff is based in almost 80 countries. About 186 of its staff are employed by the Irish unit, although that does not necessarily mean they are physically located in Ireland. Notes to the accounts suggest the Irish-employed staff earn a mean average salary of €86,000 per year and after five years, they are entitled to take fully-paid three month sabbaticals.

“The group intends to grow its headcount and operations in Ireland,” the directors said in a note attached to the accounts.