Overstock is an American online retail and technology company. Business & Finance speaks to Patrick Quinn, Director of Software Development at the Overstock.com office in Sligo, about why the company chose to invest here.
Q. What is Overstock?
Overstock is a billion-dollar American online retail and technology company and a global blockchain incubator through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Medici Ventures. We are headquartered near Salt Lake City, Utah surrounded by the beautiful Wasatch mountain range. With Overstock Retail we aspire to facilitate dream homes for all by helping our customers easily and confidently find just what they want for less. Medici Ventures is focused on advancing blockchain technology to democratize capital, eliminate middlemen, and re-humanize commerce. In 2018, Overstock reported revenues of $1.8bn.
Q. When did company come to Ireland?
Overstock found their dream home in Ireland in 2013 with an initial team of 7 fantastic engineers. Overstock Ireland is an engineering office with software development teams under both Overstock Retail and Medici Ventures companies. Overstock has approximately 2,000 employees across several locations worldwide, of which Overstock Ireland is currently 78 people.
Q. Why did Overstock choose Ireland?
Overstock chose Ireland for its highly skilled and motivated workforce. The IDA’s amazing work has played an important role in showing what Ireland has to offer. Time and again, Ireland’s technological prowess exceeds the expectation of international companies, and Overstock Ireland follows that same high standard. Choosing Sligo in the North West of Ireland was progressive. The company felt something special in the region – an outdoor lifestyle that mirrors Salt Lake City given what the Wasatch mountain range offers, along with a vibrant art, food and nightlife scene in Sligo. The pace of life, community and family driven spirit in Sligo resonates with the feeling one gets in Salt Lake City. We feel like old friends reunited.
Q. Tell us your experience establishing the company in Ireland? Was it an easy or difficult process?
It’s been an exciting and extremely positive journey. We’ve recently invested €1 million in making the move to the Westgate tech campus in Sligo. Prior to that locations such as the Business Innovation Centre in Sligo IT and The Landing Space (an IDA fast landing space) have given us extra breathing space to grow into with low cost and low risk.
Organisations such as the IDA, the American Chamber of Commerce, Sligo Chamber Skillnet have been invaluable in making the journey easier.
The initial team of experienced technologists started the company with a strong work ethic and positive culture. That start has stood to us. We have grown quite organically from 2013 to 2017 and beginning 2017, at 25 people, we ramped up on hiring to where we are now at 78 people. Retaining a positive culture and spirit through this growth while progressing from a start-up feeling through to a more mature organisation here has been enjoyable and constantly challenging.
Q. Do you find it difficult or easy to attract and retain staff in or to Ireland?
We have been delighted with how people have responded to the opportunities we have for a career at Overstock in Sligo. We’ve found Overstock and Sligo combined provides an attractive proposition for technologists – high-tech roles in Overstock with the quality of life and the cost of living provided by Sligo.
We’ve found great graduates joining us out of Sligo IT. Coupling that with experienced people joining us from in and outside Ireland has proven Sligo’s competency in supporting technology companies. A vibrant tech hub has formed in the region with tech companies collaborating under the TechNorthWest alliance, further testament to the regions ability to provide great opportunities for technologists. I’m inspired by the positive impact people from outside Ireland who decide to create a life for themselves and their families have within the community here in Sligo.
We recognise that people are here to build a long term career with Overstock, and as such we work hard to ensure an environment with variety of work, to keep people challenged and inspired.
Q. In the context of the current housing crisis are there any challenges attracting staff to your company and/or region?
We are fortunate that Sligo does not have serious housing issues. We are thankful that there are organisations, such as the IDA, actively collaborating and planning to keep ahead and avoid serious housing problems developing in Sligo.
Q. What are your future plans for the business in Ireland?
We plan to continue providing the opportunity for people to work in challenging technology, creating a work environment where we get great things done while celebrating the joys this region has to offer. We will continue to strengthen our engineering function in a careful considered way keeping the magic that has served us well to date. Beyond that who knows what the future might bring, either way we are confident in the spirit of people working in Ireland and the support structures business like us enjoy.