Never mind the Web Summit peripherals – feel the content

Summit’s usual initial vast confusion reigns in the RDS, especially for speakers and media

Highlights from day one of the Web Summit. Exhibitors talk about the benefits (and problems) the Summit brings, and what they think of that impending move to Lisbon.

 

It just wouldn’t be the start of Web Summit without a morning radio rant from summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave.

He delivered energetically yesterday on Morning Ireland, taking listeners on a gripe highlights tour that reprised the organisation’s All That is Wrong with Dublin and Ireland talking points.

There’s no knowing if this greatest-hits rendition stung the semi-spurned Taoiseach. He was first said to have not been invited. Then, a terse clarifying press release from the Web Summit’s public relations company stated that he had been invited.

Well, kind of. At short notice. On the Friday before. By email. Only read after nearly everyone had left Government Buildings. With a Sunday RSVP deadline. You know: the kind of invitation usually extended to national leaders.

Even by Web Summit standards these days, this seemed extraordinarily rude, especially to a man who had once been lord of their stage at a previous Web Summit, when having him there for a “fireside chat” was a summit publicity photo feature for months afterwards. How swiftly yesterday’s icon can be cast aside like an old Bebo profile. So #humiliating! All of which might leave Portuguese leaders feeling slightly nervous at what lies ahead for the next three years (just three, lads, hang in there).

Back in the RDS, the usual initial vast confusion reigned, especially for speakers and media, whose registration was way down in the Simmonscourt Pavilion, separate from everyone else. Except none of the pink T-shirted volunteers or Belfast-accented security guards seemed to know this, which made for a morning of unplanned exercise, running first one way, then another.

Listen: Interviews and analysis from Web Summit 2015

https://soundcloud.com/irishtimes-business

Jammed walkways

But no, it just turned out that the entry was on the other side. Facing towards an empty car park. With a sign no one could see. Behind barriers that seemed to indicate no one was supposed to go that way. Sigh.

Finally inside, and on to the wifi. Oh, you say, don’t mention the wifi! The topic that is always trending at Web Summit, a lead complaint (rightly) from organisers. But I fear I must. The wifi was crap. All day. But Diarmuid Hanafin, the communications manager for the RDS, was happily tweeting. “Wifi network has been built & operated by Websummit & their 3rd party provider for this year’s event.” So there.

Anyway, on to the #websummit hashtag, where a frequent complaint was of price gouging, not by the hotels but by Web Summit. On the lunches. The popular, free Food Summit of the past, at which attendees got their lunches, has given way to a €20 a day, or €50 for three days, voucher system. Ouch. A €20 lunch is pricey even by Dublin hotel standards.

But enough about the infrastructure. Let’s talk content. That’s where Web Summit always scores well. The organisers have come up trumps, and the talks are satisfyingly eclectic.

Cars and technology

FordBill Ford

Nice perspective from an Olde Worlde company.

Then came a talk on cyberpsychology and hackers. Then Google chatted about machine learning. I wandered down to the Sports Stage. The confident boxing champ Michael Conlan was winding up his interview: “If you want a long career in boxing, you have to not get hit.”

Now, that’s great advice for every start-up that has flocked to the event.

Then came Jed York, chief executive of American football team the San Francisco 49ers. Fans at the team’s Levi Stadium can use the stadium app to have a beer delivered to their seat in 6½ minutes.

Read that, GAA, football and rugby fans and weep.

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