ROCK star Bono played a pivotal role in persuading €120bn-valued technology behemoth Google to move its international headquarters to Ireland in 2004.
"Bono is close to Sheryl Sandberg, who he met when she worked with Larry Summers at the Department of Treasury when he was in to talk about third world debt," according to one source. "She became director of online sales and operations at Google and was responsible for international operations. She made the call about Ireland."
Ireland was in a straight shoot-out with Switzerland in the battle to host Google's international headquarters, according to IDA sources. The online search engine ultimately plumped for Ireland, setting up a small beachhead office on Earlsfort Terrace in late 2003. The following year, Google announced that it would create 200 jobs in Ireland. The company now employs 2,000 staff here.
"Bono came in to Google to give a talk in 2004 after being asked by Sheryl Sandberg," according to one source. "He also met with the founders and about 10 managers at a lunch in Dublin."
"He encouraged her about the location of the office too. It's near to the U2 studios and he got her to look at the area," according to sources. Google subsequently ramped up its presence in Dublin's docklands buying three office blocks on Barrow Street, including the €100m Montevetro building.
Bono is also involved with Elevation Partners, a technology-focused private equity firm that owns a €600m stake in Facebook. One of Bono's former business partners Marc Bodnick is Sheryl Sandberg's brother-in-law.
Sandberg became the social networking giant's chief operating officer two years ago, as Facebook set up Irish operations in Dublin's docklands.
The rock star has also worked closely with the IDA in the past. "IDA benefited from partnering with Bono and a number of other leading Irish figures on 'the Irish Mind' marketing campaign, which was targeted at the US corporate market and was influential in helping position Ireland for inward investment. This was around the time Google and other leading global companies made investment decisions to locate international activities here," according to a spokesman.
"I worked personally quite hard to get Google to choose Ireland as their headquarters outside of America and I'm proud of it being here -- and Facebook now," the U2 front man told Hot Press last week.