48 hours ago, in one fell swoop, Stripe, a company famed as one of Ireland’s great missed opportunities, changed the game for a whole generation of new Irish technology companies.
Through its new product, Atlas, Stripe, already the payment platform of choice for the majority of new Irish startup companies has now enabled a new Irish company to cut through the red tape and set itself up as a US based, Delaware corporation from day one. No more dealing with the antiquated systems and set-ups here in Ireland. Your Atlas account comes with a fully functioning US bank account from Silicon Valley Bank, thrown in. It’s an incredibly well thought out product offering.
During the growth phase of any Irish startup, at some point, re-registering as a USA based company regularly comes up. Many USA based investors will insist on it as a condition of investment and in general, it’s seen as a commitment to the USA market, often the largest single market for a technology or software startup. Given how much Irish entrepreneurs hate dealing with paperwork and bureaucracy (despite it being in their best interests) this is going to be seen as a massively attractive proposition for many. Through stalling and inaction by government on the actual needs of a modern technology based business when it comes to tax affairs and banking, you’re now going to see a huge number of new Irish startups bypass Ireland entirely and from day one, set themselves up a US-based businesses from a legal and tax perspective.
Some would say that Stripe, built by the Irish uber-geniuses John & Patrick Collison, exists because of their frustration with trying to get an online payment setup in place here in Ireland, during an era where Irish banks were still completely focussed on “real world’ credit card processing. Que the now legendary journey of two young Irish entrepreneurs heading to the USA and now being two of best-known figures in Silicon Valley with a billion dollar company that’s now going to multiply in size.
And the most frustrating thing is the sheer apathy and inaction of the Irish government. We’ve never had an industry more anxious to engage with government, to show them first hand how the UK and other European economies are light years ahead in terms of their approach to technology startups. Whether it’s people like Brian Caulfield and Ian Lucey, talking about how far Ireland’s tax code is falling behind the UK or Dublin Startup Commissioner, Niamh Bushnell showing how far ahead many European cities are in their engagement and approach to startups, it seems like they’re preaching to an empty church. It basically takes entrepreneurs like Pat Phelan, appearing on the Late Late Show to even raise the topic of capital gains tax to any level of discussion.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, is famous for a phrase “The technology industry doesn’t respect tradition, it only respects innovation”. An equally famous Cork man is often quoted as saying “Geography is history”. If Liam Casey from PCH can see this; if everyone in the world is accepting it, why do we still have a government in Ireland writing disconnected public policy as if we were all living on the island from LOST.