Friday 21 October 2016

Michael O'Doherty: Web Summit moves on, to bore another country with its corporate tech speak

Published 28/09/2015 | 07:54

Paddy Cosgrave speaking at the Web Summit in The RDS
Paddy Cosgrave speaking at the Web Summit in The RDS

As widely predicted, the Web Summit will soon hold its final nerd-fest in Dublin (for the foreseeable future) and, after a five-year tenure in the capital, will move to Lisbon next year.

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Following last year’s much-publicised fiasco, at which the wi-fi in the RDS broke down, as well as ongoing complaints about hotels cashing in by increasing their room rates by up to 500pc, there had been much speculation that the event might seek a different home.

Many other, bigger companies seem happy to come to Dublin to stage their conferences, with most delegates speaking positively about their time in the capital, so it was hoped that what was, after all, an event started by three Irish people would remain true to its roots.

Ultimately, of course, there is one simple factor that made the organisers move, namely the revelation that the Portuguese government are paying them €1.3m to hold the event in Lisbon.

The media, and indeed the Web Summit founders themselves, can bang on all they want about the desirability for chang and the need to grow but one might respect them more if they simply admitted what everyone suspects, which is that money talks.

One might point out that the change of venue to a foreign country might provide some language barriers but, judging by the mid-Atlantic corporate speak that founder Paddy Cosgrave has recently embraced (he talks about the importance of the “attendee experience” at the Web Summit, which he describes as “an important pillar of the global startup ecosystem”) being based in Portugal be too much of a problem.

After all, by the sound of him, Paddy stopped speaking English a while ago.

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