Lisbon: The new Tech Hotspot
Some were saying that Lisbon might become Europe’s Silicon Valley. These are great words and although may be perceived as an overstatement, at least we can all agree that Lisbon was the European IT Mecca for a couple of days. Several thousands of geeks, nerds, IT professionals and tech people participated in Web Summit 2016, which took place in the captivating capital of Portugal for the first time. This generated a sense of commitment among Portuguese politicians to create a space for further IT cooperation in the country as a followup to the event.
As you already know from our previous blog post, we took part in this year’s Web Summit and we have to admit – it felt as if it was the one and only place to be at that time. We were definitely not alone. The number of attendees this year jumped to a staggering 50,000, which was a great deal for the host city, especially considering that Lisbon took the torch of hosting the Summit from Dublin for the very first time. On the other hand, this also meant a lot of queuing (e.g. in the metro, at the entrance, on stage, in front of food trucks, …). However, this wasn’t necessarily bad, since it meant another opportunity to network with similar minded people who have proven to be open for a nice discussion at any time.
Chatting face to face or using the app to exchange impressions with other participants was the main to-do during the Web Summit. Getting in touch with practically anyone was very easy. This includes chatting with other attendees, speakers, investors, and politicians, or even with Ronaldinho and Luis Figo. Yes, they also attended the Summit. 🙂 The speaker panel was awesome – from the founder of Tinder, to the director general of the World Trade Organisation, and from the Technology Chief of Facebook, to Joseph Gordon-Levitt – the hitRECord founder (and beside that, the actor we all loved in the “3rd Rock from the Sun”). Mingling didn’t just end with the last session – there were a number of cultural events and pub crawls organized for the participants in the evenings, thereby allowing them to make new friends and enjoy the Summit even outside of the walls of MEO Arena and FIL.
In addition, Web Summit offered a chance to establish a close connection with a group of selected speakers, like Larry Wall, the inventor of the Perl Programming Language, Phil Libin, MD at General Catalyst Partners, or Daniel Ramot, Co-Founder & CEO of Via, etc. The lucky ones who got selected in a draw for a place at the intimate AMA session with these speakers could have asked any question that crossed their mind.
No Business as usual – but still business
From the outside, it seemed to be a conference packed with great talks and topics dealing with internet security, IoT, AI, self-driving cars, wearables, etc. And so it was, although the talks could have dug into more details, which was often a challenge within a time frame of 20 to 30 minutes. But in its very core, it was all about business. A number of fundraising opportunities and the other way around. Money searching for investment.
The annual ritual of the NASDAQ opening bell very well accentuated this in the middle day of the conference. In particular, Paddy Cosgrave, founder of the Web Summit, rang the NASDAQ bell on the main stage and opened the stock market. Not just in Lisbon, but the bell was (and will be) heard and seen around the world – notably in New York, on the NASDAQ MarketSite Tower, where it was broadcast live, and also on NASDAQ’s iconic digital sign in the heart of Times Square, as well as on the NASDAQ studio wall within MarketSite.
In love with startups
Web Summit was a perfect place for startups and investors. It was an arena for gathering visibility and feedback from the market, offering lots of possibilities to connect. Startups were categorized in Alpha and Beta phases, according to their lifetime. Entrepreneurs could have used numerous workshops and the Startup University to gather tips and tricks for the preparation of their elevator pitches. The lucky few – the most prosperous of the startups worldwide – had an opportunity to stand in front of the crowd on the center stage and pitch their ideas in the Innovation Grand Challenge for $250,000.
And what was it that inspired us the most? It was the glimpse of the future, which was shining on every detail at the Web Summit. Like mentioned during a talk on artificial intelligence: It might be totally overestimated what people think of today’s possibilities. But at the same time, people totally underestimate the real potential of what is up to become reality and will be possible in the near future.
We are looking forward to going back to Lisbon. It might not be for Web Summit. It might be to visit new fellows who will open offices in Lisbon, start new business, or continue business from there.
So long Web Summit!