Saturday 1 October 2016

Flawed, but vital: Why the Summit will be missed

Published 07/11/2015 | 02:30

Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of the Web Summit, on the opening day at the RDS. Photo: Frank McGrath
Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of the Web Summit, on the opening day at the RDS. Photo: Frank McGrath

So that's it now. The big clean up is under way at the RDS, the flights out of Dublin are full of techies on the way home, and the Web Summit is packing up.

  • Go To

So that's it now. The big clean up is under way at the RDS, the flights out of Dublin are full of techies on the way home, and the Web Summit is packing up.

After a five-year run which began almost as a curiosity and grew to be one of the biggest tech trade events in Europe, the summit's off to Lisbon.

And it's become a very messy breakup.

When Paddy Cosgrave and his team announced this would be the last event in Dublin for the next while, both his team, the Government and trade groups adopted a line that could be best described as two parents telling their kids that while they still loved them very much, Daddy and Mammy were going to live in different houses but everything would be okay.

By the end of this week though that goodwill is long gone and the parents are trading insults across the kitchen.

Something has gone very, very wrong.

With all the controversy surrounding the Summit this week, be it the price of hotels, the quality of wifi, €20 burgers and of course the allegations of "hush money" and any number of other disputes, it seems that the Web Summit and Mr Cosgrave will not be missed.

But this attitude would be foolish.

For all the event's faults, and perhaps Mr Cosgrave's own personal flaws, the inescapable fact is that the Web Summit put Dublin on the map as an international technology hub.

The recurring theme when the

This might seem ridiculous - I'm going to a party because everyone else is going to it - but it had a huge multiplier effect on Irish tech firms trying to make their way in the industry.

Imagine for one second that you are running a startup here. You think you have a good product and have identified a gap in the market, but have no idea how to get any investment.

You have no contacts of note in the sector, and the cost of travelling to one of the huge tech events in the likes of Barcelona or Las Vegas means they are a complete non-starter.

This was where the real value of the summit came to the fore. Here was an event in Ireland, that gave Irish companies a chance to make contact and impress venture capitalists and larger firms.

It also made it possible for Irish companies to meet and collaborate with other firms from around the country. No other trade event in Ireland could do that and there is no point pretending otherwise.

The other great thing about the Web Summit is that it was a top level international event that was created from scratch by an Irishman, run by Irish people, and had become a market leader in its realm.

Outside of, say, rugby, the food industry and the aviation sector, few indigenous Irish businesses have been so successful and achieved international recognition.

Among the guests at the first Web Summit in 2010 were You Tube founder Chad Hurley and Twitter founder (and current ceo) Jack Dorsey.

By Cosgrave's own account the idea for the summit came about from being at an event in Silicon Valley and then thinking "why can't this be in Ireland?". Too often that sort of ambition is frowned upon in this country.

Cosgrave needs a PR manager - he badly mishandled the Web Summit's move from Ireland. Like many in the tech sector, he seems to focus on the "incredible" things his company does for humanity, instead of admitting that it's a commercial enterprise.

But as a networker and cheerleader, he has few rivals in Ireland.

For all the bad blood around this week, the truth is the value of the Web Summit will be clear next November when thousands are jetting into Lisbon and working with Portuguese, not Irish, companies.

Irish Independent

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in Business