The second part of George Lee’s documentary, “Better Off Abroad,” is now available on RTÉ Player International. Part two of this new documentary sees Lee travel to California to examine the reality behind the tech gold rush in Silicon Valley where an estimated 20,000 Irish have made their home.
Beach life, cafe society, glamorous lifestyles, fast cars and deep tans are all things associated with life overseas. With year-round sun and a world of opportunities in each place, both Dubai and Silicon Valley are attracting increasing numbers of ambitious young Irish people who want to make it big. In this series, Lee travels to Dubai and Silicon Valley to meet with some of these Irish expats to see why they feel they’re better off abroad.
Silicon Valley, California has been at the center of a high tech, entrepreneurial gold rush over the past 50 years. The Valley, which stretches for 50 miles south of San Francisco to San Jose, is home to world leaders in innovation like Apple, Google and Facebook. An estimated 20,000 Irish live in the valley.
In episode two, Lee travels to Silicon Valley to meet the Irish who have arrived to work for the big name companies or to entice investors to support a start-up idea that may change the world. What’s the reality behind the California Dream and how easy is it to find the next big idea? And how are the Irish enjoying a new life under the Californian sun?
“It’s not about flower power anymore, it’s silicon power,” said Lee. “If you have an idea for a business, this is the place to come, because this is where the money is. If you’re young, if you have ambition, if you have dreams, this place is hard to resist.”
Silicon Valley’s reputation as the technology and innovation center of the world attracts the best minds in the world – drawn by the concentration of tech companies, top universities like Stanford and Berkeley and the availability of venture capital. The valley has a total population of 3 million – one third of which were born outside the US.
Amongst many successful Irish people, Lee will meet Dave Burke, vice president of engineering at Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley. Originally from Dublin, Dave now heads up a team of 800 Google engineers who create the software that runs a billion smart phones worldwide. Lee will also meet Mike Murphy who ran a mortgage brokering business in Portlaoise which closed when the recession hit in 2008. Mike, his wife Kerry and their children decided to move to San Jose because he felt that the US economy would recover first. Mike now works as a Realtor, specializing in residential property sales in the San Jose area.
“You can achieve anything here, there’s no fear of failure,” according to Murphy. “Right now, tech is good, real estate is good. Long may it last!”
Sean and Leona Mc Allister from Derry discuss their experience of running a business called Plotbox which uses drones to survey and map cemeteries. The McAllisters and their three children are renting in the suburbs of San Francisco where they are trying to expand their business and attract new investors. And Grainne Barron, founder and CEO of Viddyad a cloud based service which allows businesses create video ads online in minutes discusses her decision to move San Francisco.
“Dublin is a great place to start a business, but if you want to scale the business, you have to move out here,” said Barron. “This is where the investors are. You have to place yourself in the line of opportunity”
Watch now on RTÉ Player International and, in case you missed it, catch up with episode 1 where Lee met with a handful of the 8,000 Irish people who went in pursuit of the Dubai dream. The Irish is Dubai seem to be thriving but does the lifestyle come with a hefty price tag?
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