FDI 100: Google

FDI 100 | Fri 23 Nov | Author – Business & Finance Google FDI 100

Google’s reputation is such that every technology investment in Ireland cites the company’s presence as a major influence in its decision to come here.

Google has become the flagship for FDI in Ireland so far in the 21st century.

The reputational benefit of Google’s choice of Dublin as its EMEA headquarters here has undoubtedly proven to be of even greater value than the significant employment value itself. Each announcement of technology investment in Ireland cites Google’s presence here as a major influence on the decision to base itself here.
Google’s EMEA in Barrow Street in Dublin provides technical, sales and operations support to customers in over 50 countries, currently employing 2,500.

A breakdown  of employment taken in May and before a recent intake of new recruits, showed that 1,500 people were employed in sales, with the remainder working in the fields of engineering, HR, law, and finance. More than 65 nationalities work at its European headquarters in Dublin. As Google’s centre for sales EMEA, the company works with a broad range of businesses and markets, including small businesses, multinationals, AdWords, AdSense, Display, mobile advertising and more. Google engineers in Ireland have managed the infrastructure for all its products across the region, from ‘Search’ to Google’s web browser ‘Chrome’ and social networking feature ‘Google+’.

Google’s HQ has also accounted for the biggest commercial property deal in recent years, with its purchase from Real Estate Opportunities of the Montevetro building on Barrow Street from €99.9mn.

The cash deal for the building, which is Dublin’s tallest commercial property at 15 storeys, was completed in February 2011 and followed negotiations between Google and Treasury Holdings, REO’s majority shareholder, which had begun as a discussion on a rental deal but ended with a sale.

The Montevetro building is located across the road from Gordon House which also houses part of Google’s HQ, with the company also having premises in East Point Business Park in Dublin

Last year, Google announced that they are to invest a further €75mn in the building of a new data centre, also in Dublin.

The centre will employ 30 full-time staff when completed and will create an estimated 200 jobs during its construction. The facility will consist of a building full of Google computers and servers that run services such as the Google search engine, Gmail and Google Maps.

Recently, Google has cited its capital investment in Ireland as evidence of its contribution to Ireland amidst criticism that has been levelled against foreign- owned tech firms that their tax contribution is minimal in relation to the massive revenue and profits that flow through their operations here.

The Sunday Independent reported for example that on turnover of €47.44bn, Google Ireland paid total tax of €69.91mn between 2005 and 2011. In response Google has cited the €226.9mn it has paid in the acquisition of three office buildings in Dublin in 2011.

Ireland’s relatively lax tax policy may be a controversial topic in times of relentless austerity, but there is little doubt that without it Ireland’s burgeoning online technology industry would not be in the position of strength in which it currently is.

What remains vital however, is being able to back up any investment in Ireland with concrete results and Google’s success here has been trumpeted by many, not least head of Google in Ireland, John Herlihy who is one of the senior figures in Ireland’s technology industry.

As vice president of Google’s global ad operations, Herlihy drives Google’s online advertising and has significant clout in the company globally. Herlihy joined Google in 2005 and built its online sales and operations channels in new and existing markets across EMEA. He has been vocal in his promotion of the success of Google’s operations in Ireland. With Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (and now Dropbox) following suit in basing international operations here, Google’s commitment to Ireland has provided an invaluable stepping stone for the country to become a global leader in the online advertising and new media sector.