Coffee-fired techies talk failure, funds and . . . hurling


TECHIES DON’T sing for their supper but they were more than happy to tweet for their coffee at the Dublin Web Summit yesterday.

ESB Energy Ireland cleverly reminded attendees of its sponsorship with the Tweet Cafe which provided free coffee for those willing to post a message on Twitter about the service.

Elsewhere there was plenty of serious business being done as the 1,200 attendees networked furiously and attended talks by Irish and international figures on doing business online. In tune with the attention span of the internet generation the summit features 15-minute presentations where presenters try to keep the audience engaged before they wander off to another talk.

David Shing, a “digital prophet” with AOL, the once-dominant US internet brand, had no such problems in a high-energy talk entitled “Before, Now, Next”. He believes the next generation of mobile and web technology will be all about telling you what you want to do next, in contrast to the current social tools which let you tell your friends what you are doing now.

As with any tech event around the world the air is imbued with the positivity of Silicon Valley, the mecca for internet entrepreneurs where even failure can be a positive. “Every failure is a learning opportunity and you can tweak the way you work in the future,” said Mikael Hed, one of the team behind the smash-hit Angry Birds game.

The economics of Silicon Valley, where making a profit is seen as less important than running a service that is hugely popular, also raised its head when Joe Fernandez, the founder of Klout, a service which measures how influential different users of social networks are, was asked about his business model. “We’re from San Francisco; we don’t really worry about revenue – we have VCs,” he said, referencing the venture capitalists who are all too keen to back a service like his which they believe has good potential.

At the summit you can bump into a millionaire wearing a hoody and sandals but the addition of a cloud computing strand – the buzzword of the day for the tech industry – meant there were plenty of suits as well.

But the biggest surprise of the day came from John Vechey, the co-founder of PopCap Games, which this summer was sold to the world’s biggest games publisher EA for $1.3 billion.

Having come to visit PopCap’s Irish office many times in recent years Vechey began to watch hurling matches and became keen on betting on them at Paddy Power. He’s now been playing with the Seattle Gaels for four years and advised that playing hurling is his favourite way to combat the stress of running your own company.