DBF Interviews: Pamela Newenham

Pamela NewenhamPamela Newenham, award-winning business journalist with The Irish Times and editor of Silicon Docks: The Rise of Dublin as a Global Tech Hub (Liberties Press), talks to us ahead of her appearance at The Business Clinic.


Q: As an award-winning business journalist with The Irish Times and editor of Silicon Docks: The Rise of Dublin as a Global Tech Hub (Liberties Press) you are very much at the forefront of the current state of Irish Business – what’s your assessment of where the industry is right now?

Ireland has come a long way in terms of business, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship and technology.

It’s good to see so many technology and born-on-the internet companies in Ireland, such as Google, Facebook, Intel, LinkedIn, PayPal and Microsoft. They employ vast numbers here too.

There are thousands of start-ups in Ireland, especially in Dublin, which is great. However, many people think Dublin is a major start-up hub globally, and that Ireland is leading the way when it comes to start-ups. Dublin didn’t make it into this year’s Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking, a list of the best cities for start-ups.

Q: What are some of the pitfalls that you’d be concerned about if you were involved in a startup at the moment?

Not thinking globally. Ireland is a tiny market. Start-ups need to think global. There are cities across Europe and the US with more people in them than the whole of Ireland. Start-ups should also look to Silicon Valley when considering funding to scale. Stripe and Intercom both did that, and look at how big they are.


Q: With regards to editing Silicon Docks, did anything surprise you, were any of your ideas about how and why certain situations happened challenged or changed?

The lengths gone to and the amount of time (often years) put in by the IDA to secure a company surprised me. In some cases they were pursuing tech companies for twenty years, before finally convincing them to come to Ireland. One of these companies was SAP. The IDA first approached the German company in 1977, but it wasn’t until 1997 that they set up operations here.

The major role played by Google in creating Silicon Docks was also bigger than I’d expected. Most tech companies used to locate in business parks on the outskirts of cities. Google opted for a city location. In doing so, they unintentionally created Silicon Docks, as companies including Facebook, Airbnb, Twitter, Dropbox, LinkedIn etc ultimately followed them to the location.