The lords of cyberspace
Biggest names in tech world descend on capital
Published 29/10/2010 | 05:00
THE LORDS of the internet have descended on Dublin for a conference on the present, and the future, of the worldwide web and everything related to it.
The Dublin Web Conference -- an event that brings most of Ireland's internet entrepreneurs together every year -- is important for the country's tech communit,y but is usually of little interest to the casual observer.
This year, however, the conference is running alongside another event called the "Founders", which has brought the some of the biggest names in the tech world to Dublin.
The Founders event has been described as a "Davos for the tech world" after the annual meeting business and state leadres at the Swiss ski resort.
Chad Hurley, who, along with his partner Steve Chen, found the video site YouTube in 2005 before selling it on to Google a year later for $1.6bn (€1.2bn), was the keynote speaker at the opening of the conference last night.
The conference has also brought, among others, Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, and Niklas Zennstrom, the founder of Skype.
Mr Hurley is not what you would call a stereotypical billionairee.
Long-haired, unshaven and wearing an open-neck shirt and jeans, Mr Hurley looked more like the arts student he was before he stumbled across the idea for YouTube than the executive of a phenomenal global company.
During a 45-minute interview and question-and-answer session, he held the 300-strong audience in the palm of his hand.
On the basic questions he seems to get during every interview -- how did the idea come about? Why did his website succeed where many other video sites failed? Why did he sell to Google? -- he was fluent and more than willing to talk.
"Well we were looking for advertising revenue, and Google were looking to ramp up their video business so it was a good fit. Also, they were offering us $1.6bn," he said.
However, when it came to the brass tacks of business strategy and the idea of "net neutrality" -- the idea that no company or country should control internet access -- he was much less forthcoming.
"These are complicated issues, but I only have an arts degree," he claimed, to much laughter.
Despite that, the future of the web could take a number of directions, according to Mr Hurley, and he sees a time when TV and the web could merge into a single form of broadcasting.
"I think you'll see a point where the traditional model of advertising on TV or advertising online will go and advertisers will cover one programme, no matter what platform it's being broadcast on. You'll see the same ads whether you are watching it on your TV, your computer or your phone."
The Founders and the Dublin Web Summit conclude today with a series of workshops during the day, with Jack Dorsey of Twitter closing the event tonight.