Improve, don’t perfect. changed several times over the years. To the credit of people in the organisation here, they withstood a lot of uncertainty and change, as well as some positives too. It has been a fairly dynamic experience for those people who have been here since the early 2000s.”
There has been no let-up and the pace of change is as crazy as it has ever been, he says. “I have been involved in the tech industry for the best part of 30 years. My view is that, with all the work happening in 5G, we are entering another period of dynamism that folks haven’t seen in a while.”
The office has about 360 employees and the company has a data centre to the south of the city, employing engineers, research and development teams, business services, advertising, finance, IT, legal, as well as customer care and support. Taking the wider Verizon group as a whole, it employs up to 900 people at various facilities across the city.
“We have capacity here for another 100 employees and more capacity around the city at other Verizon facilities. It is up to us to identify the opportunities and deliver on them. There are no free passes though. It is all about value. If you deliver value you get the opportunity.”
The Dublin operation — one of Oath’s largest globally — has lots of potential, not least because Verizon is “super keen to see what it can do internationally”, he says.
Over the past 18 months Oath’s Dublin-based 200-strong engineering team was heavily involved in the development of the company’s new advertising platform, one of the biggest technology developments Oath has undertaken, says Scully.
“I want to see us engage further and deeper with Verizon because our parent company brings a whole lot of opportunity that we didn’t have when we were separate independent companies.”
In his role he has started to meet more often with key people in other very different Verizon operations also based in Dublin who do not sit under the Oath structure. “We share similar opportunities and challenges. We are constantly asking ourselves how we can add further value. As a local Irish management team who live and work here we obviously have an aspiration to expand here in Ireland, but our ability to deliver on that will be down to whether we can do things that add value, the traction we can get in the market and whether we can leverage some of the 5G stuff that the wider Verizon group is involved in.
“We have a few ideas. We have already done some really cool things here on augmented reality and virtual reality that can make a big difference to the advertiser experience.”
Engineers in the Dublin office were recently heavily involved in a major campaign for HP’S Instant Ink product that allowed people to use augmented reality to view how individual photographs would look if printed, framed and hung on their wall. Another campaign was developed by the Dublin-based team collaborating with others in Oath’s global organisation with US furniture company Pottery Barn that allowed shoppers take a 360-degree video of a room and then add in a furniture item to see how it looks and fits before they bought the item.
Much of that work is carried out in collaboration with other units of Oath in the US and elsewhere. So ingrained is that collaborative environment in Oath that every one of the Dublin office’s plush meeting rooms and breakout spaces is equipped with video-conferencing equipment to allow for quick and easy meetings with colleagues in the US and elsewhere.
It makes for an exciting and varied role for Scully, but it is not without its challenges. The internet industry globally faces increased scrutiny on many fronts. In Ireland that plays out most with regard to taxation and what many see as the very cosy deal the industry has had in this regard. Few doubt that there will be change and, with powerful European competitors pushing the issue, there have been concerns that a new taxation system could undermine one of the foundation stones of the sector here.
But Scully is sanguine about the threat. “It doesn’t keep me awake at night. We have a lot of capability within Oath and within Verizon that specialise in those areas, be it public policy, South of France taxation or data protection. All of those things are definitely moving pieces and tax is important because businesses like certainty to allow them to plan and execute. So any kind of noise in relation to things like tax creates the need for activity in observation and effort,” he says.
Oath — like the Irish Government and many other Irish-based multinationals — believes that OECD plans to reform the overall global taxation system are the right way to go, even if countries such as France are pushing for more rapid localised change that could hit the multinational sector in Ireland much harder.
“Whatever comes through those processes we will manage on, but the Government has been very supportive driving for that OECD approach and that gives collective certainty,” says Scully.
Data protection is another key challenge. Yahoo has its own tortured history on that front and has just agreed to pay $50m in damages to 200 million people who had their personal data breached in two huge incidents in 2013 and 2014.
“Those of us who have come to Oath from the Yahoo side of the house have significant experience in this,” says Scully. “The legacy data breaches are a matter of public record and we clearly learned a lot from that period. Thankfully now with Verizon’s corporate footprint we have a whole lot more capacity, expertise and skill and we are in a much different place having come through all of that.”
Overall, Scully does not believe that big regulatory change in Ireland or Europe — on tax, data or anything else — would cause American tech companies to abandon Irish shores. Oath, he says, remains in Ireland for the long haul.
“I like to think that the structure that we have set up here is future-proofed,” says Scully, looking out the huge window at Dublin’s windy and rainy docks beyond.
“Because of our track record here and the trust that has built up with corporate headquarters,” he says, “no matter what wave height comes in — be it tidal or otherwise — I feel good about our ability to withstand and to sustain our activities here and that they are sufficiently robust.”