Sunday 4 December 2016

Why the Web Summit leaving Ireland is a big mistake

Kieran Hannon

Published 22/10/2015 | 16:04

Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave
Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave

With the Web Summit just around the corner, the selection of next year’s location in Lisbon gave me heartburn.

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On a purely objective basis I can understand the rationale. But it’s more than a simple transaction.  Thanks to Paddy, Daire and others, the Web Summit is a sustained oxygen boost to the Irish community, technology and non-tech alike.  Indigenous companies thrive with the attention and proximity of the tens of thousands of like-minded individuals all trying to change the world.  It is contagious.

Furthermore, the Googles, Twitters, Facebooks, LinkedIns, HubSpots, and many, many, other international companies make Ireland their European center.  Those companies are big Web Summit supporters with their top execs in attendance for the week’s activities. 

One other factor to keep in mind is the state of the global economy.  When things are considered good like right now, moving to another country might be sustainable.  On the other hand, when there’s a market correction, the sustainability of an event is predicated on the underlying strength developed over the years to keep the momentum.  It can be safely said the Web Summit in Dublin represents that in spades.

I also know there are fundamental infrastructure issues playing a big factor in this decision.  The event WiFi is a major one.  Transportation is another with Dublin City reluctant to provide much needed traffic management taking advantage of bus shuttles and other forms of logistical enhancements.

We should embrace the success and glory the Web Summit has bestowed upon Dublin and other Irish cities with new breakouts (e.g. Fintech) resulting from the team’s vision.

Now I’m sticking my neck out with a big plea for all interested parties to reconsider the decision.  In the cold light of day it’s hard to be attending next week’s summit knowing the following year will see a huge void. 

To the Irish Government, Dublin City and all representatives, now’s the time to re-engage.  Listen with an open mind to the needs of the Web Summit team and remove obstacles.  As someone who’s attended many conferences, the Web Summit is without a doubt one of the best, bar none.  Don’t kill the golden goose.  It will have a long lasting impact, not just on the tangible, but also the intangible benefits, that need to be fully considered.

In other words, suck it up and do what’s best for Dublin and Ireland, which is retaining the Web Summit for eternity.

And to my Ci brethren, I also ask you that you stand back from the abyss and start afresh.  There’s no other place on earth that has all the elements of a great conference that Dublin offers.  You can’t say “I had great craic” outside the borders of Ireland, a key brand tenet of the Web Summit.

Kieran Hannon is chief marketing officer of Belkin International, and is a speaker at this year's Web Summit.

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