The 2013 Dublin WebSummit. Booze Cruise or Our Only Hope For Survival?
The Dublin WebSummit stirs up a lot of controversy in the Tech Sector, and this year’s event at the end of October is fast approaching.
The ticket price alone is enough to give small businesses a minor aneurysm. The early bird tickets, an eye watering €495 each, have already sold out. The full price ticket is coming in at €595 per person. And €4,950 for a Chairman’s ticket – whatever that might entail. Human footstools? Personal Segway? Front Row Mani Pedi’s? You’ll never know, because they too, are sold out.
‘Leading women in Tech’ were quietly shunted off to the Four Seasons for a frothy and listless lunch.
2012 had both good and bad points. Naysayers called it a spectacular waste of time, a jolly for professional liggers. Exhibitors complained that they were lost in the noise, attendees felt their time was divided and good speakers were restricted by the short, 15 minute presentation slots. ‘Leading women in Tech’ were quietly shunted off to the Four Seasons for a frothy and listless lunch.
It felt fabulous to surf the wave of optimism, hope and wonderful, glorious VC funding.
But I’ll tell you something for nothing. It felt absolutely, righteously, and diabolically fabulous to bask in it all, to surf the wave of optimism, hope and wonderful, glorious VC funding. To talk Apps and Cloud and SaaS and Web. “Well, we’re in Beta right now.” “Really? I’m about to Vest”. “We’re in our third round.” It was a monstrous sea of tech teasers and smug hipsters, with wires coming out of everyone’s pockets. So what if nothing really got done? So what if it was just a monster piss up where 90% of the products will fail terribly. So what. It was confident, and ballsy and expensive and shiny. And by Jesus we’ve had a shortage of shiny balls for quite a while now. It was like eating oranges after years at sea, or feeling the sun on your face after a nuclear winter. We hadn’t seen a free bar in three years God-damnit.
This year there are 350 speakers. It’s a bit like Glastonbury – you’ll find the best ones where you least expect them, on the fringes. And on the smaller stages, you are more likely to be able to ask crucial questions or even chat with key speakers after their pitch.
So who’s worth seeing this year?
Well last year Richard Hollis, the CEO of Risk Factory left me feeling informed, shocked and awed about internet security. And I hadn’t even planned to see him. He gives good Talk. Cindy Gallop from MLNP (Make Love Not Porn) busts balls and drags the porn industry kicking and screaming into the cold hard light of a post-feminist day. There will be heavy hitters from TechCrunch, WSJ, Hailo, Lego, Google Ventures, WordPress, Cisco, Wired, Adobe, TopShop, Box, Spotify, Wired, Salesforce, Forbes, Facebook and the Guardian. See whoever takes your fancy. They guy from Obama’s campaign has a cool beard. The dude from Prezi wore interesting socks last year. It’s a bit pot luck.
All I know is I met interesting people from all over the world, who were doing stuff that made them so excited that their voices got hoarse and little bits of spittle flew out of the corners of their mouths. They came all the way to Dublin to be part of something. An inflection point. A rebirth of risk taking, of cool ideas and incredibly funny T-Shirts. And I nearly won this Gibson guitar at the after party. I was robbed. Robbed.
Steve Jobs once said…“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
At the WebSummit, you may find you’ve earned your ticket price, or not. But you will be surrounded by people who are doing some great work, and loving it. And that in itself is pretty inspiring. Plus, if you can’t persuade someone to spring for your ticket, you can always volunteer.