Social media juggernaut Facebook continues to expand its operations in Ireland amongst global lockdowns and economic uncertainty. Already heavily invested in Dublin, Facebook considers Ireland to be critical for the development of its projects — including its controversially received digital currency, Libra.
Facebook Increases Libra Efforts
Similar to Google, which grew from a small search engine to a global technological, financial, and cultural force, Facebook followed a comparable path. Although not as successful as Google when it comes to expanding into territories outside its original purview, Facebook maintains the same ambitions.
Facebook itself, as a social media and ad platform that allows you to easily form social groups, may have lost its shine and initial momentum. Yet Facebook is much more than that. Its four major apps: Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram hold the enviable position of being the topmost downloaded apps of all time.
Facebook’s current market capitalization stands at about $510 billion, more than enough to invest further in their non-app ventures – digital currency and virtual reality.
Ireland as a High-Tech Hub
In the last two decades, Ireland has made a concerted effort to become the most corporate-friendly nation in the Western hemisphere. In fact, many consider it a tax haven compared to the tax-heavy and burdensome United States. Such loose policies successfully made all digital giants flock to Ireland, with Facebook continuing to develop their high-tech projects regardless of the coronavirus turmoil.
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, places great importance on Libra, Facebook’s own digital currency. His ambition is nothing less than to make it a global payment system.
Libra would seem a natural fit for Facebook’s vision of a borderless communication platform. A system with which you can not only send messages but just as easily send payments.
In charge of Libra’s development in Ireland is Calibra, situated in Dublin and founded exclusively to make Libra the primary digital currency, one that can rival even Bitcoin. By the end of 2020, they will add 50 new employees to further that ambitious goal.
The reception of Libra has thus far been divided. Some think it is too centralized, defying the tenets of digital currencies, while others hold the position that Libra should be countered by solutions within the existing banking infrastructure. Meanwhile, many other large companies and nations are developing their own cryptocurrencies.
Outside of Dublin, Facebook holds data centers in Clonee, Co Meath. In Cork, Facebook established its VR research lab for Oculus, which they bought in 2014.
At the time, Oculus was the main driver and developer of high-end VR headsets. However, with HTC’s Vive and Valve’s Index VR headsets, Oculus has lost its primacy among no-compromise VR enthusiasts, mainly focusing on mobile and lightweight VR solutions in the form of Oculus Quest.
Considering Facebook’s less than stellar record when it comes to privacy, ethics, and censorship, would you feel comfortable using its digital currency ‘Libra’? We want to know what you think in the comments section below.
Tim Fries is the cofounder of The Tokenist. He has a B. Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Tim served as a Senior Associate on the investment team at RW Baird's US Private Equity division, and is also the co-founder of Protective Technologies Capital, an investment firms specializing in sensing, protection and control solutions.