Dublin, Indeed: Don’t Mess With Texas Tech

Via The Sunday Business Post: Starting with a staff of two in Dublin in 2012, Texas-based jobs search engine Indeed will employ 530 people here by 2017.

Apple may have made the biggest jobs announcement of the month, complete with a cameo by its boss Tim Cook, but fast-growing global jobs website Indeed pulled in the big local names, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton showing up as it announced it will add 300 jobs to its Dublin-based European head office.

This move will bring its staff to 530 people here by 2017 and it has ambitions to employ upwards of 1,000 in Ireland in the coming years.

A conversation between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and company founder Rony Kahan helped persuade the €400 million revenue, Texas job-search giant to come here. Since setting up in Dublin in 2012 with a staff of just two, Indeed has grown so much that it is now set to relocate to a bigger space – a 44,000 square foot office near Grafton Street.

Indeed’s new president, Chris Hyams, flew into town for the jobs announcement and sat down for a one-to-one to talk about the company’s big ambitions in Ireland and the future of jobs, work and tech.

Tell me about the type of hires you’re looking for. Is it mainly sales and back office staff or are there core engineering or developer jobs as well?

The Irish office here in Dublin is key to a number of different functions. We have sales, client support and client services. We have operations, business strategy; we have certain engineering functions here that support operations of the site, we have finance and HR and marketing.

We will certainly be expanding engineering to other locations in the coming years, and given all the success we’ve had so far in Dublin, this would absolutely be one of the places that we’re looking at.

What people will wonder is, if this is your European head office, is there then a creative nerve centre element to what you do here, beyond just sales and support?

Absolutely. A lot of what we do around operations is core to our intellectual property. As a search engine, we find jobs all over the world. Some of the core functions that we have in terms of managing the processes to find those jobs and bring them on, we actually do in Dublin.

Where else did you look at when you were seeking to set up a European headquarters?

We looked at all the places companies typically look at. In the end it came down to Switzerland and Ireland; those were the two biggest opportunities for us.

There’s a number of different factors. One really important one for us was not just the availability of a highly skilled workforce, but the ability to attract people from all over Europe.

We are a global company and this being our EMEA headquarters, we have 19 different nationalities here – French speakers, German speakers, Russian speakers. There are only a few places around Europe where we could not only find that talent pool, but also be able to attract people from other places and bring them in. I’m extremely confident that we made the right decision in coming here and that we’ll grow our investment here over the coming years.

What about the tax element? Our 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate must have been a factor in your decision as well?

It’s certainly one of the factors and there’s no question that Ireland has done a lot of work to be competitive and remain competitive in that area, but it was not even one of the primary considerations.

This is a great place to do business: there’s the high quality of life the city offers that makes the talent pool excited to move here and stay here, and that was something that was important to us as well. There are a lot of other places where there might be the same tax opportunities, but the quality of life is not the same.

It’s really important to us that this is the kind of place that people want to come and want to stay. We’re not looking for short-term employees, we’re here for the long haul. People can look at the school system here and want to raise their kids and stay and continue to work with Indeed here over time.

There has been controversy here over rent rises and the measures the government is taking to address this. Is there anything you’d like to see that would help your people to live here affordably?

We think that it’s incredibly important that the government do everything it can to maintain Dublin as a place that has high quality of life and remains affordable for our current and future employees. Whatever the government can do to ensure that is something we’d certainly be in favour of.

Also, rent and availability of [commercial] real estate is important to our business too. We’d like to see more real estate made available to businesses like ours.

This is a great place to do business – there’s the high quality of life the city offers that makes the talent pool excited to move here and stay here, and that was something that was important to us as well.

How did the IDA woo Indeed? What did it offer that was so persuasive?

We had talked to other people before we even considered coming here, and we had heard good things about Ireland.

The IDA have just been incredibly helpful as hosts. When we first came to visit, just to tour around, they introduced us to other companies, they gave us really open book access to understand what doing business here was like. They have helped us considerably to find new office space as we’ve been expanding.

They’ve been extremely helpful in terms of navigating the system of visas to ensure we can move people here and get them to work very quickly. We have offices in other countries where this takes a very long period of time.

What does Indeed’s experience and research suggest we’re all going to be working at in say, ten years’ time?

That’s something we spend a lot of time and energy looking at. We have a pretty unique view, with more than 180 million job seekers around the world every month who come to Indeed, in more than 50 countries. So we have this kind of unique perspective of both the supply side as well as the demand side.

We actually hired a chief economist in the States and we recently added an economist based here in Dublin to look at the EMEA picture. We have opened our data to them to do research. One of the things we think is most important really is this general business philosophy that software is eating the world, so every company is becoming a software company.

Every healthcare company, every financial services company, every transportation company, they are now at their heart becoming software companies. So that is fascinating to see. Large healthcare companies are hiring more software developers than Twitter, because of their size. And there’s a dramatic undersupply of computer science and software development talent available, given the growing demand. When we look at how many students with computer science and engineering degrees are graduating every year, it’s far less than what the growth [in demand] is anticipated to be.

And in addition there’s the gender gap, so less than 20 per cent of all software engineers are female. So there’s a huge untapped talent pool right now. In the next five to ten years, that’s going to be the biggest story.

Is there a tech bubble?

To bring up an old quote about “irrational exuberance”, there’s certainly been a lot of exuberance in the tech sector.

I’m not an economist, but the valuations that we’ve seen in the last couple of years in these big rounds of investments in some of these companies: there’s no question that some of them are not going to be able to [be sustainable]on the open markets. I’ve lived through a couple of these bubbles, including the late 1990s tech bubble, and there’s a big difference between where we were in 1999 and today.

The vast majority of companies then that had those gargantuan valuations were not producing any real value. And they all ran at a loss and there was no plan for profitability. I do think that [most] businesses today have sound business plans and many are profitable and growing. I just think that there has been a lot of exuberance in Silicon Valley and around the world in ploughing a lot of money in that forces these crazy high valuations. It’s clear that they’re not all sustainable.


Originally published in The Sunday Business Post.

Picture: Jason Clarke

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