Dublin’s social life a key attractor of tech talent

AdRoll chief architect Valentino Volonghi. Source: AdRoll

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14 January 2014 | 0

There are more reasons to locate a European headquarters in Dublin beyond the generous tax breaks. According to AdRoll chief architect Valentino Volonghi the capital’s appeal is based on two elements: a strong knowledge base developed by the presence of multinationals Microsoft and, just as important, a culture that allows for the easy integration of workers from around the world.

“Dublin, more than any other city that I’ve been to is able to integrate so many different cultures and languages without any ghettos or segregation,” said Volonghi, who paid a visit to AdRoll’s European headquarters on St Stephen’s Green last week.

Founded in 2007 on the cusp of the financial crash, AdRoll’s advertising retargeting platform presents users with the option to buy items they previously browsed on other websites they visit. For example, customers that looked at a pair of shoes on a store’s website would be given the chance to complete their purchase when they visit other websites. The combination of Web traffic analytics and targeted advertising has proven popular with clients thanks to measurable return on investment and a market reach covering 98% of sites on the Web. Its predominantly mid-market customer base also includes large brands like Salesforce.com, Levi’s, Fujitsu, Rackspace and GoPro.

The company originally employed five people in San Francisco, later opening offices in New York and Dublin. Its current headcount is over 300, 32 of which are in Dublin.

According to Volonghi keeping a strong sense of purpose company-wide has been essential to AdRoll’s growth. “We’ve always tried to build a team that was very closely knit, with an enthusiastic culture. Sales and engineering [departments] stay in the same areas just to chat with each other.”

That element of contact between disciplines extends across cultures in the Dublin office, where nine languages are spoken and a quarter the workforce comes from outside Ireland. Volonghi rejects the idea of there being a skills deficit in Ireland, noting that all the senior management are Irish and would be considered “veterans” of companies such as Google. Currently working on a 90:10% split between sales and engineering staff, Volonghi said AdRoll expects to take on additional engineers in 2014 as it ramps up products for international markets and the mobile space.

Internally, catering for an international staff has presented some challenges in terms of settling not just into a new organisational culture but a new city. To combat this AdRoll has staff mentoring and a ‘buddy role’ programme where an existing employee is given a new hire to help orient them around the business and the city. One of the more common problems, Volonghi found, was where to find a place to live.

“There is a lot of support in the organisation and it’s not just for newcomers,” he stressed.

AdRoll opened its Dublin office last October and expects to hire a total of 100 people over the coming year.

Niall Kitson

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