Ireland’s most successful technology entrepreneur has warned that soaring housing costs threaten to derail Dublin’s future and its investment potential.
Patrick Collison, the 29-year-old Limerick-born billionaire co-founder of payments firm Stripe, who has announced a major new jobs expansion in Dublin, told the Irish Independent that the capital’s housing spike is being noted as far away as Silicon Valley.
“One of my biggest concerns is rapidly rising housing costs in Dublin and the challenges that creates for people,” he said. “It’s really going to be to Dublin’s detriment if people are priced out of the city.”
Mr Collison’s intervention is just the latest in a series of warnings by major tech employers that Dublin’s housing costs are spiralling out of control and threatening future investment.
A recent report from the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, which represents firms such as Google and Facebook, predicted that Dublin was at a “tipping point” in turning future jobs investment away because of the accommodation crisis.
It has predicted that such investment would shrivel unless at least 30,000 new apartments become available in the capital by 2022 and more than 200,000 nationally.
Recent figures from the Central Statistics Office suggest that big tech companies employ more than 100,000 people in Ireland and are responsible for a growing chunk of economic activity in service companies which supply the tech firms.
Mr Collison was speaking as his company announced a major new engineering facility in Dublin that is expected to place Ireland at the centre of European payments technology.
“We really hope Dublin manages to create enough supply to keep these housing costs in check,” he said.
Mr Collison described the new engineering facility to be created here as a “big bet” on Ireland. Stripe is set to rapidly increase the size of its office from the 100 people already in place.
He said the company picked Ireland out of Europe for its “long-term” business prospects due to Dublin’s emergence as a tech stronghold and its desirability as a destination for advanced, skilled workers from other countries.
“One of the reasons we’re taking a bet on Dublin is that a lot of people want to move to Dublin. Silicon Valley is not pre-eminent because the area itself produces all these great technologists, it’s because of the people who move there. I see the same happening with Dublin.”
But all of that could be hampered, he said, by the unchecked rise in property rental and purchasing costs. “As Irish people, we really need now to try to deal with this,” he said.
Together with his younger brother John, Mr Collison founded Stripe in 2010 as an easier way for companies to accept payments online. The firm, which is a major competitor to PayPal, is now one of the world’s most valuable financial technology companies, recently valued at almost €10bn. It employs more than 1,000 people at its San Francisco base and 100 people in its Irish office.
Mr Collison also cited Ireland’s “social and political climate” as a reason that Stripe has returned with such a critical expansion to Dublin.
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