Geeks enjoy Irish-style social networks


Ireland’s reputation as a centre of creativity and technology is restored, at least for the weekend

THE HUNDRED or so web entrepreneurs who arrived in Dublin yesterday discovered that the social network was not invented in a Silicon Valley garage but has been operating successfully in Ireland for decades, if not centuries.

The Founders and Dublin Web Summit conferences, which are running in parallel and continue at venues in the city today, features some of the leading lights of the web world – the people who founded companies like Facebook,, Bebo, Twitter, Gowalla and Wordpress.

Founders kicked off with a public interview with Chad Hurley, one of the founders of YouTube, but this was just a prelude to the real business of the evening – social networking Irish-style. The brainchild of Trevor White, publisher, this consisted of a two-hour pub crawl led by various “cultural ambassadors”.

White was one of those showing Irish hospitality but the big draw was Green Party chairman, Senator and Twitter straight-talker Dan Boyle.

The two events have attracted a truly international group of entrepreneurs to Dublin who exude a much-needed positivity on a week when economic and business news locally has been universally depressing.

The Irish Times, purely for the purpose of research, joined a pub crawl group that included people from London, Stockholm, San Francisco and New Orleans.

Supping a pint of Harp on his first visit to Ireland, Allan Grant explained his latest venture, Curebit, launched just weeks ago.

“Myself and my co-founders rented a house and locked ourselves away for 2½ months away from our wives until we came up with an idea we liked,” said Grant, as if this was the most natural way in the world to start a business.

Beside him Adil Mohammed explained how his London-based business Launch48 brings together professionals from a range of disciplines and tries to form viable new companies in 48 hours.

The attendees at Founders may head up some of the biggest companies on the web, but jeans, T-shirts and trainers are the dress code – for the more successful at least.

Sports jackets and open-necked shirts seem to denote those looking for money or with money to invest.

Those who travelled talked about being attracted by an event where they meet fellow young chief executives but that don’t have any of the corporate trappings of events in London, Amsterdam or San Francisco.

They may still be rough around the edges but Founders and the Dublin Web Summit have re-established Ireland’s reputation as a centre of technology and creativity – at least for the rest of the weekend.