Tuesday 19 March 2019

Exclusive: Web Summit founder begs RDS to switch wi-fi provider after latest fiasco - and threatens move to Europe

The Web Summit paid an estimated €400,000 for the service at this year's event

Denise Calnan and Garry Toal

THE Web Summit co founder has threatened to move venue next year - because of the hugely-embarrassing issues failure of wi-fi at the event this year and last year.

In an exclusive interview with Independent.ie, the co-founder of the global technology summit, Paddy Cosgrave, said he ‘implores’ the RDS to work with the Web Summit and allow them to control their own wi-fi.

“I think it’s unfortunate that huge global companies that provide wi-fi for conferences bigger than this, and do it very well, are not allowed to do it,” Paddy Cosgrave told independent.ie.

“I would implore RDS to for the first time, allow us control our own w-fi at the event with a partner like Vodafone or Cisco who have both offered to provide for the event for a number of years.

“Last year the wi-fi failed, this year the wi-fi has failed,” he continued.

“Still yesterday it was not working in the centre stage and the main hall, our most important exhibition areas.

Co-founder Paddy Cosgrave speaking to Independent.ie reporter Denise Calnan at the Web Summit in The RDS. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Co-founder Paddy Cosgrave speaking to Independent.ie reporter Denise Calnan at the Web Summit in The RDS. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

“It is incredibly disappointing for young start-ups who have come from Australia or Brazil and they’re seeing a side of Ireland that’s not Ireland. It’s so frustrating if you’ve built a demo online and you can’t show off your demo because you don’t have internet.”

It is understood the Web Summit paid an estimated €400,000 for the service at this year's event

Mr Cosgrave said the Web Summit does not have the option of moving venue because there is no alternative of its size. However, speaking in a press conference later, he indicated that he may look to venues overseas - specifically 'elsewhere in Europe'.

“Unfortunately there’s just no venue big enough in Ireland [to move],” he said.

“Our only option is to hope the RDS is prepared to work with us, which I believe they are.

“Chief Executive Michael Duffy is a very reasonable man , very good guy and I’m sure he’ll be more than willing to work with us.”

Later in the day, however, Mr Cosgrave's stance appeared to have hardened as he criticised the 'old dudes' who run the RDS, and said if the wi-fi wasn't perfect next year, the summit will be moved out of Ireland.

He also questioned the reasoning why the Food Summit could not be held in the RDS, and was instead facilitated by Dublin City Council in Herbert Park - which is a 25-minute walk from the main stage.

This year's event hosted more than 22,000 people, most of whom travelled from overseas for the three-day event that ends today.

Online Editors

Also in Business