It’s The End Of The Conference As We Know It…And I Feel Fine

I think it is my return to rainy Dublin, home of Joyce, Wilde & Co that has inspired me to pick up on the blog and get writing. There is something in the skeleton of this old town, almost a comfort in misery, that I think inspires the Irish to write (and sing and dance and drink). At times it feels there is little else you should do. Often there is an optimism that things will get better for a while, then go to shit… this is certainly the country where the term even-Steven came from.

Such was the way with the Celtic Tiger. The rapid awakening of the Irish economy through the 1990’s and 2000’s saw Ireland go from the basement to the penthouse of the EU with job creation, migration and the tech boom. Ergo, such is the way with the Dublin Web Summit, the reason for my being here this week along with 30,000 other tech punters. As an aside, I nearly called this article “Fake Tales of San Francisco” in tribute to the Arctic Monkeys song, but that’s another story.

Perhaps it was my lack of attention, but I was surprised to learn that this would be the last year that Dublin would host this ever expanding summit. Talking to locals I heard a number of reasons, ranging from the summit asking for too much and the local hotels charging too much, but I feel it was simply that the Summit feels it has outgrown the facilities. This is my 3rd trip to this event over the past 5 or 6 years and the growth has been impressive. But the longstanding joke from my Irish friends, as you wait in long queues for registration, etc is that it is a tech summit with no internet access!

While it is sad for the Dublin economy that the conference is moving to Portugal next year, I don’t see the future in these super summits the way others do. The Web Summit as an example, has such an emphasis on fundraising that I saw investors turning their badges around so as not to get swamped by the 1000’s of social, marketplace, app and sporting solutions. Finding a truly disruptive technology (and not just one that investors like) is nearly impossible at these events, due to the ‘noise’ and gimmicks.

And so, to the Web Summit I say go dté tú slán, and should you see the light and return to Dublin, it would be great to come back. Even-Steven remember.

Stephen Mooney is a full time entrepreneur and part-time blogger on topics ranging from challenges facing start-ups, to pop culture to running. He is currently part of the UKTI’s Global Entrepreneur Programme and CEO of Synoptica. Synoptica is a leading SaaS platform that helps organisations to uncover, rank and engage with innovative SME’s.