Business Irish

Sunday 23 April 2017

WEB SUMMIT

Head in the cloud IDA defends tech firm pursuit

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

The IDA has defended the agency's pursuit of technology companies that are not perceived as job providers and said he would continue to attract internet firms to Ireland.

IDA chief executive Barry O'Leary, speaking to the Irish Independent, disputed the claim that some new industries, such as cloud computing, could not lead to large numbers of jobs here.

"Not only does the cloud bring construction jobs when building data centres but staff are also needed to monitor and maintain the centres once they come online.

"When a new industry sets up in a certain region you also see secondary businesses come to the area, so I don't accept the notion that the cloud will not create jobs here," he added.

Speaking at an event to coincide with the Dublin Web Summit (DWS), Mr O'Leary added that the agency was now identifying "the next wave of businesses to attract to Ireland".

The summit was closed last night by Skype founder and start-up investor Niklas Zennstrom, who said there was "no reason" Irish technology companies should have to leave Ireland to grow.

"Ireland is one of the best jurisdictions for companies in the world and you've seen that with firms coming here.

"There is some great talent in engineering and entrepreneurs here so it is really good," he said.

One of the hot topics at the two-day event has been the notion of whether the rash of huge initial public offerings in the tech space are signs of another bubble in the sector, but Mr Zennstrom was circumspect on the matter.

"You have to separate the quality of a company from the valuation. Some companies might be priced a bit high. (As a rule), the leading firms in their field are getting very big valuations and are priced for perfection -- so when they hit a bump it could be damaging.

"The market is more mature now (than during 1999-2001), however. The companies getting high valuations now are getting them on the back of strong revenue, profit and growth.

"In 2000, there were companies who weren't profitable and in many cases didn't even have a plan to make money," he added.

While the DWS is over, the 'F.ounders' event -- a meeting of 150 of the biggest names in technology running parallel to the summit -- concludes today with a dinner in Dublin Castle. That follows a reception last night at Aras an Uachtarain with President Mary McAleese.

Irish Independent

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