Dublin’s days as a techie Cin­derella are num­bered

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK TECHNOLOGY -

Zen­desk’s forth­com­ing ma­jor ex­pan­sion in its Ir­ish base will cre­ate high-level jobs in the cap­i­tal, the multi­na­tional’s vice-pres­i­dent of en­gi­neer­ing, Colum Twomey, tells Adrian Weck­ler

Zen­desk, which has a global head­quar­ters in San Fran­cisco, has over 35,000 paid cus­tomer ac­counts in Europe, the Mid­dle East and Africa and is grow­ing at 30pc an­nu­ally.

Glob­ally, the com­pany has over 100,000 paid cus­tomer ac­counts.

Twomey says that the firm is se­ri­ous about high-end de­sign jobs be­ing part of the Dublin set-up.

“The first prod­uct we took on here in Dublin was the Talk prod­uct, which we had to take on and sup­port while we built it from the ground up. That has been a re­ally suc­cess­ful prod­uct for us and it’s been owned en­tirely here in Dublin.

“That means we have the en­gi­neers, the de­sign­ers, the QA process, the cre­ative guys, the prod­uct management all here. It’s full own­er­ship. It gives us a high level of au­ton­omy.”

Other Zen­desk pro­cesses have el­e­ments of this phi­los­o­phy.

“All of the mo­bile soft­ware that is built by Zen­desk is built here in Dublin,” says Twomey. “And it’s all na­tive An­droid and iOS stuff. So we’re build­ing apps, we’re build­ing SDKs. Again, it’s pretty au­ton­o­mous.

“That’s what keeps peo­ple en­gaged here. We have a very low turnover of staff be­cause peo­ple care about what they’re build­ing and want to have con­trol. If they thought they were be­ing dic­tated to from an­other ge­og­ra­phy, they may not like it.

“Cer­tainly, I wouldn’t have come here if we weren’t go­ing to get this kind of work.”

The com­pany is also look­ing for non-tech roles to hire.

“As well as the th­ese tech jobs, we’re also look­ing for sales peo­ple, sup­port peo­ple and lan­guage skills,” says Twomey. “Right now, about 40pc of our staff are en­gi­neers, while 20pc are in sales, 20pc are in sup­port and 10pc are in fi­nance or back of­fice func­tions. “I think it’s go­ing to scale fairly lin­early.” Zen­desk es­tab­lished its of­fice in Dublin in 2012 with two en­gi­neers and an idea to glob­ally ex­pand its en­gi­neer­ing team.

“Ini­tially, the (Dan­ish) founders moved from Copen­hagen to San Fran­cisco,” says Twomey. “But while San Fran­cisco is great from a mar­ket per­spec­tive, it’s hard to af­ford or at­tract A-list tal­ent there.

“The founders de­cided to lo­cate an en­gi­neer­ing cen­tre in Copen­hagen but knew it wouldn’t be enough, so that’s when they picked Dublin.

“Since then, the de­ci­sion has been to grow the Dublin op­er­a­tion from an en­gi­neer­ing per­spec­tive be­cause it’s re­ally work­ing very well for us. We’re not grow­ing our other sites as rapidly. We have sites in cities like Ber­lin as well, but we made a de­ci­sion not to put our en­gi­neer­ing there be­cause we’re able to meet our needs here.”

Colum Twomey, vice-pres­i­dent of en­gi­neer­ing at Zen­desk, says the com­pany will also be hir­ing non-tech staff for its Dublin op­er­a­tion.

Pic­ture: Adrian Weck­ler

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