Wed, 22 May 2019

U.S.-based firm to set up shop in Galway

Conor Trindle
24 Apr 2019, 07:20 GMT+10

GALWAY, Ireland - A major technology company based in New York City is to establish its first international hub at Galway in the west of Ireland.

Rent the Runway, Inc., which describes itself as the company that created the world’s first living, sustainable closet by enabling women to rent versus buy their clothing, selected Galway after discussions with the Irish Government through its development arm, IDA Ireland.

The company plans to hire 150 engineers and tech developers over the next three years for the new international headquarters. The prospective team, to be based in the historic Claddagh area of the Galway city centre, will tackle core technology challenges that are critical to the company and will influence the future of the next generation of its services.

The new Galway operation, the company says, will enable it to expand its engineering and product development footprint and new employees will have the opportunity to launch or grow their careers across a number of roles in software engineering and development. 

The centre in Galway will be the first operation for Rent the Runway outside of the United States. The  privately owned company has 5 physical locations in the U.S., eleven million members, and 1,800 employees, 93% of whom are female, multiracial and/or minority. The company’s technology team is 45% female, and 80% of leaders at the company are women.

"We are thrilled to open our first-ever international office in Galway, where we’ve had overwhelming support from the Irish government and the IDA. From the start, it was clear that Galway was the perfect location for our new office - the city has an atmosphere of creativity,  mirrors Rent the Runway’s cultural values, and excitingly, and will be the European Capital of Culture in 2020," Rent the Runway Chief Technology Officer, Josh Builder said Tuesday. "There’s an incredible opportunity to tap into the growing STEM talent in the region, and we’re eager to begin establishing our Irish footprint."

Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation, Heather Humphreys said Tuesday: "I am delighted to see Rent the Runway choose the West of Ireland to open their first ever international office and create 150 new high-tech jobs. Galway City will be a natural fit for this innovative, progressive and creative company. Ireland warmly welcomes new firms in niche, highly skilled areas and Rent the Runway will join a growing number of disruptive companies based here."

Rent the Runway, headquartered in New York City, was founded in 2009 by Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss as what they say was an answer to the modern woman’s desire for constant newness by offering a rotating wardrobe that is also a smart, sustainable choice. RTR says it pioneered the ‘living closet’ and believes that women everywhere will soon have a subscription to fashion, making renting an indispensable utility. With its most engaged subscribers wearing rented clothing more than 120 days per year, the company claims it is changing the way women get dressed every day.

The team in Galway will be undertaking in-house software development as well as supporting U.S. operations by working on existing technological activity supporting RTR’s mobile and desktop platform through which new and current users and subscribers access their services. The Irish teams will also be working on projects to expand and enable RTR’s fulfilment network, leverage data science to bring personalization and insight to all aspects of RTR’s systems, and experiment with new data driven applications. The team will work hand-in-hand with the U.S.-based R&D teams, a company statement said.

The Galway office will be temporarily located at the Portershed. The company expects to relocate to a more permanent home late Summer 2019 at the newly-renovated Piscatorial School building, a prime waterfront location overlooking the Claddagh in Galway City Centre.

The company has built and operates the world’s largest technology powered dry-cleaning facility and reverse logistics operation, with sophisticated automation and a complex back-end system that powers the ecosystem of rental reservations, returns processing, order fulfillment, and the overall customer experience. All technology and logistics to power the operation is built in-house.

"This is an excellent investment by this leading, innovative company from the U.S. East Coast. Galway, with its vibrant and growing technology ecosystem, is proving a most attractive location for investment and Rent the Runway choosing to locate its first-ever international technology office here will further enhance that reputation. It is also an endorsement of the confidence tech companies have in finding the right talent in the West. Rent the Runway will be a key reference seller for us in attracting further tech and consumer brand activity. This project from Rent the Runway is very much in line with IDA Ireland’s strategic objective to attract increased levels of investments to regional locations and the 150 jobs being created will be of substantial benefit to the economy of the city and West region," IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan said Tuesday.

In March, Rent the Runway announced its largest investment to-date, of $125 million, bringing the valuation of the company to $1 billion. The company has been recognized by CNBC as the 9th most disruptive company in the world and as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies.
 

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