Sunday 25 February 2018

Tech firms are tempted here by two factors – tax and people

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

NEVER mind the geeks: here come the jobs. Yesterday's unveiling of 335 jobs from technology companies setting up here is a digital dividend that should cheer us all up.

Although Dublin is most heavily favoured – 275 out of the 335 will be located in the capital – the news reminds us that the high-tech industry in Ireland is more than just a tax-avoidance strategy.

That none of the companies announcing the jobs are household names isn't really important. Adroll, Nitro, Zendesk and others are typical of strong, growing niche tech firms coming to this country.

And if yesterday's buzz at Dublin's 10,000-person web summit is anything to go by, there may be lots more on the way.

I spoke to dozens of CEOs and executives who were considering an Irish administrative base.

Is tax a factor? Absolutely. Even firms that do not avail of a 'Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich' (ie, tax avoidance arrangements) like the idea and may do so if they reach a certain size.

And low, low tax remains a key plank of the sales pitch that Ireland Inc makes. For example, Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday pitched Ireland's "competitive tax rate regime" not once but twice during a speech to a key audience of US financiers and technology entrepreneurs at the Dublin Web Summit.

He knew exactly what he was saying. With his key message delivered, he rang the opening bell for the Nasdaq Index's trading session.

But there is another reason they are coming, too. Even tech CEOs of firms too small to benefit from big business tax breaks are setting up here to get the right staff.

In a nutshell, they need to hire the type of people working in Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft. It's a lot easier to do this if they're located right beside these big web companies.

Does the web summit genuinely contribute to this activity? There is no question that it does. True, some of the conference bears the usual marks of hype. Its sponsored jogging sessions, for example, are a cheeky (but innovative) concept. And it is easy to get lost in a starry-eyed narrative vignetting Ireland climbing to the mountain-top.

But the overall effect of the Dublin Web Summit's presence has been to make the capital a genuine pitstop on the global technology circuit.

All this week, hundreds of companies have turned up to pitch their wares at what is now Europe's biggest internet industry conference.

Just as importantly, hundreds of financiers, investors and money-movers were there to meet each other. They are all there to create business. And increasingly, Ireland is catching a large chunk of that trade.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Promoted Links

Also in Business