Even before Georgia Tech beat Boston College 17-14 in their college football contest in Dublin, Atlanta had already scored major victories this weekend in Ireland.
A local craft brewery had sent its finest beer across the pond, and the seemingly unorthodox location for the football matchup had provided an occasion for reflection on the business and cultural links between Ireland and Georgia.
Among those visiting for this flurry of activity was Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who found himself among Irish leaders celebrating the latest successful collaboration between a tech giant highlighting the fast-growing fintech cluster in his city and the country’s skilled workforce.
Equifax Inc., founded and based in Atlanta, announced Friday the grand opening of an IT research and development hub to support its global operations. The outpost in Dublin’s so-called “Silicon Docks” district, the nickname of the Grand Canal Docks where named American tech giants have clustered, is the latest investment in a market Equifax has served for more than 20 years.
“I am pleased to join Equifax today as we celebrate the company’s growing presence in Ireland, and as a champion of innovation, I am excited about the opportunities to strengthen our city’s economic and cultural ties with Dublin,” Mr. Reed said in a statement.
The event had the effect of raising Atlanta’s profile among Irish leaders. Mr. Reed joined Dublin Lord Mayor Brendan Carr and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor at the event last Friday preceding the football matchup. (The mayor also spent time at Irish President Michael Higgins’s residence during the visit.)
Equifax had previously announced the center, noting that it would create more than 100 jobs, but it’s growing even faster than the company had bargained for as its work product becomes more essential to the bottom line.
Once known only as a purveyor of credit reports, Equifax is aiming to become better known as a source of vital insight about consumers that helps customers make decisions and drive growth. The Dublin IT center, for instance, is built around creating new products to monetize the vast troves of data Equifax collects on companies and businesses.
Reached by phone from Atlanta while traveling in Dublin, Chief Information Officer Dave Webb said Dublin’s available talent pool matched perfectly with the needs of the office, which will help provide technological underpinning for operations in 24 countries.
In Ireland, it’s easy to find experts in big data and analytics, software engineers, immigrants with language skills from all over Europe and young people — about 20 percent of the new hires are fresh college graduates, he told Global Atlanta.
“These are people that can really build core platforms for us that we can really take and deploy in certain geographies around the world,” he said., noting that the pace of hiring is likely to accelerate faster than expected. So far, 70 of the planned 120 have already been hired, and it’s possible the headcount could reach 150 by the end of year.
The move aligns with Equifax’s “journey of transformation” from a credit bureau to information and insight provider — and the realization that it needs to adapt to the needs of the global economy.
“Our strategy is: ‘Leverage really the global talent market that exists around the world, recognizing that you’re not going to find the best talent all in one place,’” Mr. Webb said.
To that end, Equifax opened a new support center in Chile just last month, and it’s in the midst of a $17 million investment in new office space just down the street from its headquarters in Midtown Atlanta, in part to support more spur more internal interaction and better access to innovative talent.
“We are a tech company, and all of the revenues derive from the products that these people are building,” Mr. Webb said.
Equifax’s revenues grew by 20 percent to $811.3 million and profits by 18 percent to $130.9 in the second quarter of 2016. Its international revenues were up by more than 50 percent.