Saturday 25 May 2019

Stripe talks Dublin housing to Murphy

Meeting with Eoghan Murphy comes after Stripe's $1m donation to California organisation, writes Fearghal O'Connor

Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison. Photo: 2012 Bloomberg Finance LP
Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison. Photo: 2012 Bloomberg Finance LP

Fearghal O'Connor

Online payments firm Stripe has lobbied housing minister Eoghan Murphy on the Government's approach to solving the housing crisis in Dublin.

The meeting between Stripe executives and the Fine Gael minister followed a $1m donation by the $1m donation by Stripe to an organisation dedicated to solving a similar crisis in California's tech hubs.

Sources said that the $9bn tech company was generally supportive of the Government's approach to the crisis that has seen rental prices in Dublin shoot past Celtic Tiger levels as employment has jumped, not least in the often high-paying multinational tech sector.

Earlier this month, the company announced that it had donated $1m to California Yimby - which stands for "yes in my back yard". The housing advocacy organisation has attempted to push through a bill in California that would require local governments to accept higher-density buildings near rail stops.

"The housing crisis is one of the top issues facing California as an economy and Californians as people," Stripe co-founder Collison, said in the US press earlier this month.

"We can sit back and sort of watch this unfold around us and abstain from taking any action or stance because we think that there might be some blowback that might be unpleasant for us," Collison said. "But given just how severe the issue is, I really think that would be mistaken."

Brian Hanlon, California Yimby's founder, said that the donation by Collison to his group "may well be the beginning of tech firms deciding that they need to help solve this crisis. They don't have a viable business model in California if the housing crisis continues unabated".

Earlier this year, in an interview in the Irish Independent, Collison warned that Stripe would 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.

In recent months, Patrick Collison's brother, John, has also met Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to discuss technology policy with the intended result of "improvements to better reap benefits of the technology sector," according to a filing on the lobbying register that recorded the meeting between the pair.

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