WHenoathmoved into its fancy new European headquarters at the Point Village at the far end of Dublin’s north docks earlier this year, it still felt as if the US tech multinational was, in many ways, on the edge of things. That has all now changed insists Patrick Scully, who runs Oath’s Europe, Middle East and Africa operation from Dublin.
“We’re now right in the middle of things,” says Scully, gesturing out of the huge windows at a forest of cranes and construction activity that is rapidly reinventing a previously drab urban wasteland at the furthest publicly-accessible end of Dublin’s north quays.
The whole area is beginning to take on the same look and feel that has so transformed the nearby Grand Canal Docks area, where Oath’s huge competitors Google and Facebook have built their own European headquarters on the south bank of the river. Now, says Scully, coffee and salad outlets are opening as footfall increases around a once-forbidding end of the north quays with the opening of each new gleaming building.
Oath, of course, is the new name for the combined entity that now holds Yahoo and AOL, two companies that have been around since the World Wide Web first became a global phenomenon. Both have lived turbulent existences, as they were eclipsed by Google and Facebook who dominated and became verbs that would define the industry.
Both Yahoo and AOL had operated in Ireland for quite some time. In the middle of 2017, Oath was formed as the result of the acquisition of Yahoo by US telecommunications giant Verizon. It now serves as the business-to-business face for a host of well-known internet brands in the Verizon stable. Yahoo and AOL form the backbone, but it also includes Huffpost, Engadget, Techcrunch, Tumblr and other web brands that account for a billion users.
“We are like a shoal of fish that comes together in the sea — some big ones, some small ones — to fight off the bigger predators. Our collective rounded mass gives us a bit more clout and fighting power in the big ocean that is out there,” says Scully.
He is convinced that the new structure is the ideal way for brands that have been around for some time to become newly disruptive, pushing themselves back into the centre of things.
“There is no question that there have been challenges along the way and invariably there still are,” he says. “I would argue that there isn’t an entity out there that hasn’t had its challenging moments across the digital ecosphere. It’s a journey for everybody and there is no question it has been for Yahoo and AOL and our other properties. But we find ourselves now in Verizon, which is a super-interesting place.”
The new structure under the Verizon umbrella has created a whole new set of possibilities for each of the brands, says Scully. For example, Verizon is making major investments in 5G technology and previously bought Irish vehicle technology player Fleetmatics (which it has rebranded as Verizon Connects). “It opens doors for us in terms of the internet of things, gaming and the digital experience that we weren’t even thinking about even two or three years ago. It’s a new landscape.”
Scully joined Yahoo in 2014, but was part of the original wave of Irish employees to begin their career in Irish-based US tech companies. His first job was with Digital in Galway, which, although it eventually shut its doors, was a famous incubator for indigenous tech talent.
“It was one of the most wonderful university companies of all time and a fantastic place to get experience. I’ve spent all my time since working at US tech headquarters here in Ireland.”
After moving on from Digital, Scully held leadership roles at Siebel Systems and Wood Group, before becoming international director of sales operations at Ballsbridge-based Nuance Communications, which produces Siri for Apple’s iphone.
At Siebel, Scully had worked with Ken Goldman who would go on to become chief financial officer at Yahoo. So, in 2014, when Yahoo decided to move its European headquarters from Switzerland to Ireland, Scully was hired by Goldman to set up the new Irish operation.
“My job was to make Dublin work,” he says — no easy challenge at a time when Yahoo was struggling to find its place in the rapidly changing web universe. “Yahoo’s profile in Dublin has