Exclusive: Interview with Rory Mullen of IDA Ireland

Can you please provide a little bit of background on the IDA and your role within it.

IDA Ireland is the Irish government agency responsible for attracting overseas investment. We focus on the technology and life sciences sectors and assist companies to get set up in Ireland as quickly as possible. We promote Ireland as the most attractive and profitable destination for multinational companies looking to expand their global operations or establish themselves in Europe.

As West Coast Director, I lead IDA Ireland’s operations in California, primarily in Silicon Valley where we work with companies in multiple technology sectors including security, bio-pharmaceuticals, mobile and cloud computing.

Where do you feel Ireland currently features in the overall cloud industry? How do you envision its’ place in the future? How does the IDA/ the Irish Government contribute to this?

Ireland features very prominently in the cloud industry. Some of the biggest names in tech including Google, Dell, HP and Microsoft have established their European datacenters for cloud research and development operations in Dublin. Microsoft’s data center serves as the primary delivery hub for its cloud computing services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  Last December, the company announced a $23 million expansion of the datacenter bringing its total investment in its Ireland facility to $806 million. In February, Google announced a $200 million investment in its west Dublin datacenter.


“Ireland is continually attracting new industries and technologies as they develop and evolve. Building on past the success … we believe Ireland will be at the core of cloud computing in Europe for a very long time.”

Within the last year alone, cloud providers like Salesforce, Amazon and IBM have opened new development and operations facilities in Dublin to deliver or improve cloud services to European customers. Other providers that have substantial operations in Ireland include the likes of Dropbox, EMC, VMware and Microsoft.

Ireland is continually attracting new industries and technologies as they develop and evolve. Building on past the success in attracting leading companies to Ireland and using them as a base to lure more companies into the cluster, we believe Ireland will be at the core of cloud computing in Europe for a very long time.

The Irish government is committed to making Ireland as attractive as possible, developing the talent pool, increasing the number of graduates from Science and Engineering courses and improving the infrastructure to help ensure the country’s competitiveness.

How, in your opinion, does Ireland (and more specifically Dublin) becoming a cloud hub, effect the overall European cloud market?

The European Union, one of the largest and most powerful trading blocks in the world, has placed cloud computing and complementary technologies as a core building block for future development. Due to Ireland’s pro-business environment, Ireland is supporting the development of Europe’s strategy.

The Irish government is committed to developing a talent base, supporting access to an international skills pool, making Ireland a cost competitive location and developing the necessary infrastructure so that all U.S. companies can invest in R&D and indigenous Irish companies can develop new and innovative products. Additionally, Irish universities are continually developing new cloud courses, all of which will go toward growing the European wide knowledge base in cloud computing.

How has the cloud industry affected the Irish economy and job market?


“The cloud industry has had a tremendous effect on the local economy and job market… SalesForce, Amazon and IBM created almost 600 new jobs in the process. “

The cloud industry has had a tremendous effect on the local economy and job market. The recent expansions of SalesForce, Amazon and IBM created almost 600 new jobs in the process. In addition to the specific jobs associated with the actual projects by these companies, there is an equivalent or greater number of supporting jobs created in the local economy, supplying goods and services directly to employees.

These investments also lead to a clustering effect. Companies like Dropbox, Google, Microsoft and Amazon have all placed significant operations in Ireland and have been very successful. Their success showcases Ireland’s strengths and will attract more companies, creating more jobs.

In 2011, there was a big push by the IDA together with Microsoft for cloud companies to invest in Ireland. How has this been successful (or unsuccessful)?

The last five years have been the most successful five years in IDA’s history. Investments from multinational companies into Ireland has evolved from low cost manufacturing to software development and R&D. Ireland has successfully captured each new wave of development over the last number of decades, semiconductors to software to social media and now cloud. Since 2011, Ireland has secured investments from:

  • Startups like Pinger, Engine Yard, Marketo, Hubspot, LogMeIn, SumUp, Nimble Apps,  Indeed.com, Adara, 10gen, Etsy, and New Relic
  • Greenfield investments from Gilt, D&B, EA, Twitter, Zynga, LinkedIn, Quest, Dropbox, Yapstone, Ancestry.com, Guidewire, Total Defense, Mandiant, FireEye, Tripadvisor, Qualtrics, Airbnb, Overstock.com, Marin Software, and SurveyMonkey
  • Expansions by IBM, Google, Vmware, Citrix, PayPal, SAP, Symantec, Dell, McAfee, Salesforce, Microsoft, Webroot, Workday, Facebook, Dell, AOL, EMC, Groupon, Qualcomm, Yahoo, eBay, Yelp, VCE, HP, Amazon, and Apple

IDA Ireland continues to seek investments from these companies and is continually seeking to make Ireland an attractive location for investment for the next wave in technology.

What do you feel is pulling cloud companies to focus their cloud operations in Ireland?

One reason is the access to both the indigenous talent in Ireland as well as talent from all across Europe.  As a member of the EU, Ireland is readily able to attract multilingual talent, which provides valuable corporate diversity, knowledge and experience. The EU will be an important source of cloud computing talent.

Another reason is advanced technical education. Enrollment in undergrad computer/software courses in Ireland is up 40% percent since 2007 and cloud computing courses are being introduced to improve skills for unemployed IT professionals by the Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin Business School and National College of Ireland.

Additionally, the corporate tax regime in Ireland is committed to being among the most competitive in Europe.  We have one of the lowest corporate income tax rates along with the UK.

But I think the biggest reason for the recent moves into Ireland is the path that was carved out by tech giants like Apple and Intel, both of which opened manufacturing plants in Ireland in the 80s. Tech clusters began to grow around Dublin and Cork and eventually the likes of Google, Facebook, Airbnb and LinkedIn have setup facilities there.  So now smaller companies like DropBox and Zendesk can see that track record of success created by those companies and that’s what they want to emulate.

What plans do you have to further cloud investments in Ireland? What strategies or techniques are needed to make this happen?

The Irish government is committed to making the country the best location in the world to do business. The key reason that companies locate their international operations in Ireland is the access to and availability of talent. Companies that are located in Ireland have access to an educated and multilingual workforce of 500 million people, all across Europe. The Irish government has also streamlined the process for non EU citizens to enter the country and commence working. The business environment is also favorable to companies locating in Ireland as it is a cost competitive location, the cost of living and cost of doing business are a significant attraction for companies.

Ireland will continue to seek investments from new companies and expansions from those that are already here and we will be successful as long as we can continue to maintain Ireland’s attraction:

  1. Availability of Talent
  2. Access to Infrastructure – connectivity to Europe and the US, fibre connectivity, etc.
  3. Growing the cloud cluster
  4. Keeping a competitive cost and tax environment