From Silicon Valley to Silicon Docks

In life, Sun is not everything

Dublin may not be Sunnyvale, Cupertino or Mountain View in sunny California, but within a few years it has become the home for the EMEA headquarters of most tech companies. The modern and renovated Docklands area is also nicknamed Silicon Docks due to the high concentration of tech companies based in Silicon Valley.

Google has its EMEA headquarters here with around 3,000 employees and continues to grow and acquire new buildings. Within a 5 minutes walking distance around 200 people work for Twitter. From there you can head towards a strong competitor: Facebook at Hanover Quay. With its 400 employees, it has its largest operations office outside their headquarters in Menlo Park, California, and it is moving to a new 11,000 square meters office in Grand Canal Square with the capacity to accommodate 1,000 workers.

Around the corner you will find Indeed, the main job site in the world, which this year will open around 100 new positions. Yahoo! is not far away, and it is also increasing their number of workers with 200 new openings. Dropbox is in Dublin too, and IBM, Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, TripAdvisor, Betfair, and many other multinationals and start-ups.

And why, you will ask

There are different reasons and people will give a different value to each of them. From my point of view, the main factors are three: low tax corporation, geostrategical location and language advantage. Although some Irish people like to think that all these companies are here due to the high qualifications of Irish workforce, the truth is that other Europeans are equally qualified and probably speak more languages. Actually, some companies struggle to find qualified employees after having opened their offices in Ireland and have to bring them from abroad, with the extra investment of money that it entails.

It is true, however, that the fact that Ireland  is an English-speaking country is a big asset. At the same time, it is a EU member but it has always had strong links with the US due to a long history of emigration. For that reason, I think that Irish have a more entrepreneurial attitude than other European countries. Ireland is geographically located close to the UK, to continental Europe, and not too far away from the US. Plenty of Americans have Irish roots and they love to say they are Irish because their great-great-grandfather was from Kerry and their surname is Lynch. This fact results in a mixture of European identity along with an American working culture influence. If we add up that they are a pro-EU country, generally speaking, in contrast with their sceptical British neighbours, that Irish are seen as a friendly people. and that there is a lack of serious social or political conflicts, Ireland becomes the preferred base for American investment.

Is that all?

Not quite. The third factor, or the first, or the second, is the famous low tax corporation. Companies pay a very low tax in comparison to other European countries. Try to purchase a mobile phone in Spain with a Spanish salary taxed in Spain at the online shop of a tech giant and, guess what, oh surprise, it will be billed at the address X St., Dublin, Ireland.

Not nice? The European Union thinks the same way and wants Ireland to change these policies, as products acquired abroad are taxed in Ireland at a much lower rate with the resulting impact on competing markets. But Ireland was smart enough to attract investment through this system and they will fight hard to keep it.

So what?

As a result, and due to the highest birth rate in Europe as well, Ireland has the youngest population in the continent: there are young professionals from all over Europe and all over the world working here. At the same time, there is a lack of IT professionals and the Irish government is investing in conversion programmes for people with a non-IT background who want to change career.

That makes Ireland an interesting country for people looking for a job, especially in the IT sector. However, you have to keep in mind that if you plan to emigrate to Ireland your level of English has to be high and that you should have some money saved. Ireland is not cheap, especially Dublin, with living standards similar to London. You can read more about working in Ireland in this post.

Please feel free to leave a comment!

I love Ireland

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I love Ireland. I say it all all the time and I think it all the time.  I think it when I go to West Cork, Kerry, Mayo or Louth and I see amazing landscapes. I think it when I watch a hurling or rugby match in Croke Park, RDS or in a pub, I thought it when I played with my football in Inchydoney beach, and I think it when I am invited to have dinner with an Irish family. Sometimes I am afraid of insisting too much about how much I love Ireland because I wouldn’t like it to become the Salou or Marbella of the British Isles.

Ireland has the good things of being a small country, like a strong feeling of community, and the good things of being a modern and quite prosperous country, as it is the base of the EMEA headquarters of the big companies. The landscapes I have seen, especially in rural Ireland, are some of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen. There are small villages and towns in places like Kerry, Cork, Galway, Mayo or Donegal where it seems as if time had stopped 60 years ago. And this is, for me, an important factor of the Irish charm in today’s 3.0 times.

If you go to a shop in, let’s say Clonakilty, Co. Cork, the lady in the counter will most probably make some comment about the weather like ‘Yera, it’s been a miiiiserable week, but sure it’ll be grand anyway!’, although she has never seen you before. Irish people like to talk, and Irish people are nice in general. They remind me a bit of Andalusians. They like to talk, they like to take it easy. And yes, they like to drink.

Éire is not only what we saw in The Snapper or Angela’s Ashes. It is a very modern country too. Much more modern than Spain or Italy in many things. It is strategically located between the UK and the US, it is a part of the British Isles but it is more integrated in the EU. It has obvious historical and political links with Britain and also with the US. Because of that, and because the famous low tax corporation, most of the IT giants have their headquarters here, mainly in Dublin and Cork: Amazon, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter, Microsoft, and many more.

But ‘no todo es oro lo que reluce’, as we say in Spanish, something as ‘not everything that shines is gold’. If the country hasn’t become yet a Dubai, Costa del Sol or Bahamas, it is probably for one important reason: The Weather. Yes, the weather is c***. Yes, it’s very bad. That joke ‘I love summer in Ireland, it’s my favourite day of the year’ is almost true. Weather is unpredictable. It may be sunny at 9, raining at 9:30, dry at 9:45 and frosting at 10. And that can happen anytime during all year except for 3 or 4 months, which doesn’t mean that there will be good weather in 3 or 4 months. It just means that it probably won’t frost during 3 months.

Despite the weather, I love Ireland. But I think I’m not the only one, as thousands of Spaniards, Italians, Brazilians, Poles, Latvians and many other have decided to try to make their living here. (I will talk a bit more about working in Ireland in the section ‘Living in Ireland’)

This is the reason why I have been for two and a half years here and have no plans of going back to Barcelona. People seem not to believe me, especially coming from such a cool city. But I insist: I love Ireland, and as long as they don’t kick me out and I am happy here, here will I be.

Go raibh maith agaibh!