Web Summit – My Experience

Web Summit is a technology conference held annually and it’s considered “Europe’s Largest Technology Marketplace”. Until now, it had been held in Dublin but in last year’s edition, Paddy Cosgrave (the CEO) announced that in 2016 it would be in Lisbon, between the 7th and the 10th of November.

With the multiple times that tweets announcing it appeared on my timeline, it caught my interest but it was way too expensive for me to even consider going (besides, I couldn’t afford missing three days of uni). So I tried not to dwell on it or I’d just end up feeling sad that I couldn’t attend what seemed to be such a great and interesting thing.  Last month, one of my friends shared on facebook a link to win one-day tickets to the centre stage of Web Summit. Turns out Paddy Cosgrave had partnered up with the Portuguese Prime Minister so that young people aged from 16 to 23 could attend Web Summit and have a little taste of what it was like. So I won two one day tickets (to be used on the same day and we could choose which one) and so did my friend. We agreed we would go on Tuesday and on Thursday (it was a way too good opportunity for me to miss it), since I had really important classes on Wednesday that I didn’t want to miss (which meant I went to Lisbon on Tuesday, came back at night to Coimbra and then went back to Lisbon on Thursday) and my friend had a lot of classes on Wednesday too.

So I went to Web Summit and I can honestly say it was such an amazing experience! I liked Thursday way more than Tuesday but I want to tell you a bit about the speakers I liked the most.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8TH:

We got to Lisbon at around 10 in the morning and the train station is really close to Meo Arena, where the centre stage was, so we immediately made our way there.

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We got in, searched for some seats and when I saw the stage, I immediately loved out it looked. We got there in the middle of the first talk so I don’t really know how it started. The next one was about government and entrepreneurs and I didn’t particularly like it, but it was still too soon for me to judge the event.

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Paddy Cosgrave on stage

After that, the speaker was the CEO of Renault-Nissan Alliance, talking about “Roadblocks to autonomous driving” which was more interesting. The next one that I thought was okay was “Every country will be digital” with the Executive Chairman of CISCO Systems but the first one I really really liked was the one after that: “The future of the worker” with Andrew McAfee, the Principal Research Scientist of MIT, and Gary Marcus, the CEO of Geometric Intelligence and moderated by Tom Dotan, a reporter from The Information.

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“The Future Of The Worker”

Andrew McAfee and Gary Marcus already knew each other, so the talk was way more dynamic and they would argument and counter-argument about what the other was saying, agreeing with some things and disagreeing with other, and just sharing their points of view. It was honestly good to hear what they were saying!

“Will technology kill democracy?” with the Head of European Political Strategy Centre of the European Comission was also alright (not as good as the last one I mentioned but interesting nonetheless). After that, it was “Will everything you know about advertising soon be irrelevant?” with the Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, the CMO of Facebook and the CMO of Forbes and this one I felt like it was a bit of a let down. I wanted to hear the CMO of Facebook speaking but I felt like the one from Publicis Groupe was the only one talking. After that it was lunch time and in the afternoon there were a couple more talks I enjoyed.

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“The Benefits Of Technology Are Worth Sacrificing Our Privacy For”

The first one was a debate with Salil Shetty, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, and Robert Scoble from Scobleizer, mediated by Kurt Wagner from Recode. It was really interesting to watch them defending their points of view, even though I wish Robert Scoble had talked more about the weird glasses he was wearing.

The one I liked the most in the afternoon was “The age of knowledge” by Albert Wenger, the Managing Partner of Union Square Ventures,  where he talked about how, even though many people say what’s next is the age of information, he thinks it’s the age of knowledge.

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“The Age Of Knowledge”

The other one I liked was “Bots: What are they good for?” with David Marcus from Facebook but really my favourites from that day were “The future of the worker” and “The age of knowledge”.

If any of this sounded interesting to you, I’d recommend checking Web Summit’s Facebook page and watch any of recorded videos of the talks. Since the post is already a bit long and I have to go to sleep, I’ll come back to you another day with what happened on Thursday at Web Summit.

Until next time,

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