Technology visionaries attend Irish conference


RUNNING THE video-sharing site YouTube during its first year felt like being inside a “hurricane” and the founders felt like they had no choice but to sell to Google, its chief executive Chad Hurley said at an event in Dublin last night.

Internet giant Google paid $1.65 billion for YouTube, even though it had been in existence for just a year, was making a tiny amount of money from advertising and was being sued by record companies and movie studios for copyright infringement.

Speaking at the opening of Founders, a conference for international technology entrepreneurs in Dublin which continues today and tomorrow, Hurley said: “We would love to have stayed independent but if we raised more capital would just have increased the target on our back.”

Hurley spoke of how YouTube threatened traditional internet companies, because it was attracting web users to its site, while media companies felt threatened because it allowed consumers to watch videos without buying or renting them.

“We know it was us against the world on all fronts,” said Mr Hurley. “We know our crazy growth was threatening .”

Although Google has allowed YouTube, which delivers two billion video views a day from its site, to remain independent, Hurley is currently stepping back from a day-to-day role to become an adviser to the company.

While Founders is an invite-only event many of the attendees are also speaking at the Dublin Web Summit today, a public event which was launched to a sell-out crowd last night.

There was a notable sense of optimism about the industry in Ireland at the opening of the summit. Hurley and co-founder Brent Hoberman were joined by numerous entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who all spoke about the challenges and opportunities for start-ups.

Five Irish start-ups also pitched for a chance to win the Spark of Genius award which comes with a prize fund of €30,000 in goods and services for the winning company. Hurley advised the start-ups to be flexible at all times.

“Don’t be afraid of changing direction mid-course; be flexible and willing to adapt. We originally planned YouTube to be a video profile site but that changed as things went on.”

Hurley was preceded by a presentation from Irish entrepreneur Dylan Collins, chief executive of Jolt Gaming. He detailed the numerous rejections his ideas got during the years, all of which eventually proved successful. Given his experience in the gaming industry Collins was keen to push the potential for the industry in Ireland.

“Ireland is a huge hub for online gaming companies,” he said. “No one seems to know this and we should be shouting from the roof tops about this.”