GLOBAL search engine giant Google celebrated its tenth year of operations in Ireland with the opening of a €5.5m digital networking hub at the company’s headquarters in Dublin this afternoon.
The Irish operation - which is now the largest outside the US - has gone from humble beginnings in a cramped office on Earlsfort Terrace in 2003 employing just five people to a state-of-the art monolith spanning four buildings on Dublin’s Barrow Street which is now the company’s headquarters for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Now employing 2,500 Irish-based workers or “Googlers” as the company affectionately calls its staff at the Grand Canal Dock hub, it is now a “thriving digital tech ecosystem,” according to the head of Google Ireland John Herlihy.
Although the tenth anniversary technically came and went last April, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton officially kicked off the celebrations today with the launch of “ Google Dock’s” latest addition “The Foundry” which they hope will lure companies and investment from around Europe and the world.
“It’s quite extraordinary in the excitement and the range in what they’re doing,” the Taoiseach said. “To go through the transformation of this building from what was a failed builder asset to what it is now - actually the centre of the Google digital world where every other element of Google is now following the lead given by Dublin.”
The 14,000 square foot facility set on a single floor features an open-area “meet and greet “space interspersed with a bar and catering facilities and a gift shop featuring the latest digital and video technology that will allow clients to interact with each other here and around the world through digital technology as well as good old-fashioned personal networking and “schmoozing”.
A futuristic-looking on-air studio and green room, complete with modular chairs and a sofa, allows clients to interact in real time with their counterparts anywhere in the world via Google's "Gmail" and a video screen.
There is also a massive curved digital wall screen providing a bird-eye’s view of Google’s streetview and LED-embedded stairs which flashes digital images such as a client’s corporate logo.
But the real icing on the cake is a multi-million euro state-of-the-art high tech auditorium that can comfortably seat 360 people.
Looking like a combined cinema and television studio complete with overhead flood lights and a giant digital screen, it features a TV production-quality console consisting of the latest electronic equipment that can project everything from mundane power-point presentations to cutting-edge videos onto the screen.