Facebook is to recruit another 100 staff in its Europe, the Middle East and Africa headquarters in Dublin over the next 12 months, the Guardian has learned, expanding the current team of 200 international sales, finance and developer management staff.
In contrast to Ireland's dire financial straits, Facebook's investment in its Irish operation – which is the main centre for all business outside of the US – casts a clear vote of confidence for the future of its tech economy.
The social networking giant has been keen to steer clear of the controversy about Ireland's low corporate tax regime, instead emphasising its outreach work with universities, mentoring initiatives for local startups and its developer garages.
Ireland's low corporate tax rate has helped attract around 75 major international tech corporations including Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Hewlett Packard and Intel. Despite pressure from Germany and other countries backing Ireland's €67.5bn bailout package, Ireland has refused to increase corporation tax from the current rate of 12.5%.
Colm Long, Facebook's director of online operations based in Dublin, acknowledged the sensitivity around the issue but would not comment directly. But he explained that Facebook's executive team had also been "very encouraged" by the collaborative nature and commercial focus of the Irish government and its agencies.
"This is not a very popular thing to say, but we've seen time and time again that we can go in and have conversations with the Irish government to solve problems ... there's often more bureaucracy in other countries," he said.
"Ireland is very business friendly – you can get talent quickly not just from Ireland but from abroad. Other countries are tightening up on immigration and that's understandable. The Irish government's approach, though they are cognisant of that, is that they understand you are a growing business ... they know that to help our business we'll need more people and the government will need to be flexible and forward thinking."
"If we continue to execute well we can create really meaningful employment opportunities for graduates. The should be some sense of optimism that they don't have to emigrate for opportunities."
Of Facebook's 200 Dublin staff the majority work on advertising, multi-lingual sales and account management with a small finance and HR team. Less than 20 work on backend engineering and "platform operations", the team that liaises with external app developers. The company is currently advertising for 85 new staff across all these areas.
Long denied that Facebook – which had 633 million unique users in October, according to comScore – is taking local development talent out of native startups at a time when engineering talent is in short supply. During Ireland's property boom, many students opted for property-related degrees instead of computer science.
"If we are then I'm worried about the local talent pool – we haven't hired that many people on the technical side," said Long, who said the Irish office had "built a reputation internally as a group that can solve complex problems and drive online revenue".
Read the full interview with Colm Long