Web Summit four-day tech jamboree kicks off in Lisbon

The big draws this year include Edward Snowden, Eric Cantona and Michel Barnier

Web Summit, the global technology conference co-founded by Irish businessman Paddy Cosgrave, will kick off in Lisbon later on Monday evening.

The organisers of the four-day event, which is being held in the Portuguese capital for the fourth year since it left Ireland, say almost 70,500 delegates are expected this week at the Altice Arena and FIL.

The big draws at this year's event will include political speakers such as former UK prime minister Tony Blair; European Commission digital policy chief Margrethe Vestager; and the European Union's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Other names on the roster include US digital security whistleblower, the exiled former NSA agent Edward Snowden; Huawei chairman Guo Ping; and sports stars such as Brazilian former footballer Ronaldo, French former footballer Eric Cantona and UFC fighter Paige VanZant.


Among the Irish names scheduled to speak at the event are Mark Roden, the executive chairman of mobile technology company Ding; Des Traynor, the co-founder of Intercom; food delivery service Manna's founder, Bobby Healy; and Nikki Lannen, the chief executive of gaming company WarDucks.

Other high-profile attendees include Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and chief executive of global financial behemoth, Blackstone, and Katherine Maher, the chief executive of Wikipedia.

Smaller gathering

Ahead of Monday’s official opening, Web Summit for the first time held a smaller gathering over the weekend of about 200 specially selected start-ups and wealthy investors in the seaside town of Cascais, which is about a 30-minute train ride away from Lisbon.

Web Summit says about 2,150 start-ups will take part in Web Summit this year overall. The conference started in Dublin at the height of the last recession as a small technology conference, quickly becoming perhaps the best-known event of its kind worldwide. Mr Cosgrave’s company has since gone on to establish sister conferences in locations including Hong Kong and Toronto.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times