Thursday 21 November 2019

Google boss tips Irish brothers to be next Mark Zuckerberg

John Herlihy, new head of LinkedIn's European operations
John Herlihy, new head of LinkedIn's European operations

Gordon Deegan

The outgoing chief executive of Google Ireland said yesterday that we will be talking about Limerick brothers John and Patrick Collison in years to come in the same way we do about Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page.

At a Shannon Chamber of Commence lunch event yesterday, John Herlihy said that the Collison brothers' Stripe online payment firm is an "amazing" and "tremendous" business.

In a public interview with University of Limerick's Prof John Fahy at Dromoland Castle, Mr Herlihy said the Collisons, like other young successful business people, "are willing to fail".

Mr Herlihy, inset, added: "But what they do is that they are taking their knowledge about what didn't work and they are pushing it back into the next version of their product incredibly quickly."

Asked about the working environment at Google, Mr Herlihy remarked that all the stuff about bean bags in the offices "is irrelevant".

Mr Herlihy said that the focus at Google is about challenging employees to do really great work and valuing their feedback.

He said that a central part of Google's business is being transparent with its employees, adding that "we start with the approach that everyone we hire - which is why I spend a lot of time in the selection process - is trustworthy".

Mr Herlihy, who built Google in Ireland from 72 to 5,300 workers, said: "Four times a year, we share the full board papers with 60,000 employees 48 hours after the board meeting non-redacted."

Asked about the shortcomings in the Irish education system, Mr Herlihy said that there "is a little bit of complacency there" in terms of making technology more central to teaching.

However, the Limerick native said that the market will prevail and the gaps in the education system will be addressed.

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