WebSummit is a phenomenon. The sheer force of will does not a Web Summit make. It is vision and ambition from its founder that are the required elements. The fact that the wifi was below par was a mere (humourous) afterthought from an otherwise outstanding event.
To listen to Paddy Cosgrave, one would think that this was all taken in one stride. That however, is far from the case. There were 1,500 unpaid helpers this year, all pulling in the same direction to get this event online (see what I did there?) in addition to the @websummithq team. This team brings the figure up to over 1600 of which yours truly was one.
Behind the scenes, the stage seemed only 50% ready for human consumption right up to mere hours before the event was due to start. Stages were being assembled, road bridges being built and carpets being laid well into the night was a common occurrence. The staff were not inspiring confidence in any of the happy helpers. Happy were they that their job was not to make the event the envy of Europe. However, I must compliment the Web Summit team, they were marvelous and put on a great event.
In some of his snide comments, the Paddy personality come to the party, however. The founder, referring to his audience as “assholes” and to his guest David McWilliams as the singular “asshole” was never likely to carry favour. That multiplied by his previous higher education comments equalled to a palpable palaver as he took to the stage in front of the Student Summit, a night event for those assessing their options ahead of taking the plunge into the world of work.
However, the crowd mellowed and as the night wore on and McWilliams couldn’t even take the stage from master Cosgrave, who excelled in making big big ideas and big business sound like a bit of craic. So too other speakers, from across the three-day event.
Norm Johnson was a notable speaker who made an impression, holding court on the Marketing Summit stage for most of a morning in which new developments in online marketing and advertising were discussed. More to follow on these, but to write a piece on the WebSummit and not encapsulate the event in its entirety would be to do it a disservice. This is afterall, an event which contains smaller events.
The Builders Summit was one such event. Driverless cars were discussed and we in little, old Ireland were educated on the success of these in California and Florida. In these far-flung places, driverless cars have completed over 1.2million kilometres of driving, interacting with everyday situations and traffic on everyday streets.
The mind expands as one enters the cocoon of keyboards. So too, are you encouraged to expand your mind by networking with living, breathing new ideas people. There were a range of start-ups in various forms of being. The best of which I encountered was Headspace by Andy Puddicombe, an app for modern-age mindfulness.
Then of course, there were the Night Summits, a few free pints on Paddy, literally. Well it’s what we Irish do isn’t it? Yes, but we do so much more too and with ventures like the Web Summit, we’re even starting to showcase the blooming talent on these shores. There is no doubt that the Web Summit is an excellent stage to do so.