Monday 26 September 2016

It's not you, it's us: why Web Summit ditched Dublin for modern Lisbon

Published 24/09/2015 | 02:30

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

It's the lack of money that stings the most.

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When news of the Web Summit's decision to leave Dublin for Lisbon started to surface, many people assumed it must be for big bucks. €5m? €10m? How much had Portugal promised to prise away an event so indelibly linked with Dublin away?

€1.3m. And that was it.

In other words, it wasn't a lack of state funding that got the Web Summit to ditch Dublin. It was Dublin itself.

Company organisers have long griped about the capital's creaking infrastructure, rollercoaster hotel stock and lack of transportation.

Yesterday, they finally acted on it.

The Web Summit was moving away, said the company's official statement,"for our attendees to get the best experience possible".

Decoded, that means no gridlocked streets around suburban venues. It means no hoteliers who jack prices up from €75 to €600 for the week of the conference. And it means no more worrying about getting people around the city on time.

Instead, the Web Summit will now have a sparkling convention facility that can host up to 50,000 people. It will have a venue that has a metro stop all to itself. And it will have an event that's not located in the middle of a residential neighbourhood.

In fairness, there is an alternative explanation. The Web Summit may have simply outgrown Dublin. After all, what used to work as a boutique event designed as a charming antidote to regular conferences is closer to being the original global thing now. Pub crawls down narrow streets with Bono may no longer be a substitute for fibre-backed wifi.

So maybe it's time for the Web Summit to find a bigger home where it can accommodate its ambition. For many, it's a shame that Ireland can't be that home.

Irish Independent

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