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How Ireland scooped the Internet pool 'and we ain't gonna stop'


By Noel Young, Correspondent

February 21, 2012 | 3 min read

The ill wind that drove Ireland to seek a 67.5 billion-euro international bailout in 2010 also drove down commercial property rents - and the pay-off now is that American companies are pouring into Dublin, many of them Internet -related.

O"LEARY: We ain't gonna stop."

A Bloomberg report says U.S. companies were behind almost 40 percent of offices bought or leased in Dublin in 2011 "and the trend is likely to accelerate this year," said the magazine.

Google , , Bank of New York Mellon, and Citigroup are all said to be looking . Facebook reportedly wants to more than double the size of its European HQ in Dublin.

More than 3,000 will eventually be employed at Googles's European HQ there. LinkedIn leased space last year and now has 175 employees, up from 30 last year.

The rapid growth of companies like Zynga and Twitter led the Irish Development Agency last year to set up a new unit targeting companies with less than $30 million a year in revenue. Thirty-five have since set up in Ireland, said IDA Chief Executive Barry O’Leary.

O'Leary told Bloomberg that Ireland was the fifth most expensive location in the world for office accommodation in 2007,. Today it’s 45th.

The 2010 financial crisis also drove down labour costs and the government announced initiatives to bring in investment.

U.S. companies leased or bought about nine times more space in Dublin last year than they did in 2007, according to data from CBRE Group .

Most of the U.S. companies opening in Ireland “put a toe in the water to see what it’s like, see it’s easy to get good staff and then start expanding,” Fidelma Healy, COO of e-commerce company Gilt Groupe (Ireland), told Bloomberg. The company opened there last year and now has 70 employees .

MasterCard is adding 130 employees in Dublin over the next four years and expanding into new offices.

Most of the social-networking companies have leased space near the city’s south docklands. That’s so they can recruit one another’s staff, said John Moran, managing director at Jones Lang’s Irish division.

The IDA's O'Leary said, “We’ve already got the top 10 companies born of the Internet. We ain’t gonna stop at that.”

UPDATE: eBay's online payments company PayPal, which already employs 1,500 in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown, today announced a new site in the border town of Dundalk that will add 1,000 more jobs over the coming four years.

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