Saturday 22 October 2016

Web summit boss: 'RDS good for horse shows, not conferences'

Published 23/01/2016 | 02:30

Paddy Cosgrave. Photo: Getty
Paddy Cosgrave. Photo: Getty

Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave has reopened old wounds by describing Dublin's RDS as a centre built for "horse shows" and not major conferences.

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In a stinging criticism, he said the venue is too small to cater for large, showcase events, and for such occasions is not fit for purpose.

His comments follow the decision to move the technological juggernaut to Lisbon this year, after a public row between ­Cosgrave and the Government, generating widespread controversy.

The Government faced criticism at the time over whether it did enough to keep the event in Ireland.

Speaking yesterday at a press conference in Lisbon, Cosgrave said the Web Summit's move will enable the world's largest gathering of startups to overcome logistical problems, which occurred at its previous home in Dublin.

"The venue that we used in Dublin was very, very small. It wasn't built for conferences, it was built for horse shows," he said. "In the case of Lisbon, you have a world-class facility with very, very strong public transport connections.

"And it's also very close to the airport," he added.


The decision to move the event, which began in Dublin five years ago, and which has attracted chief executives from companies such as Tesla Motors Inc, Netflix Inc and Skype, is a blow to Ireland's efforts to portray itself as Europe's Silicon Valley.

The move took place following claims of logistical difficulties, such as Wi-Fi outages, and a lack of access to public transportation at the 2014 gathering.

This year, the summit is expected to attract about 50,000 visitors. It will be held at the MEO arena in Lisbon, the site of the 1998 Expo.

"The city is just so perfect," said Cosgrave, referring to similarities between Lisbon's red suspension bridge and San Francisco's Golden Gate. "I have no doubt that hundreds, maybe thousands of people, will arrive here from San Francisco and say: 'Wow, did they copy us?'"

Irish Independent

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