Web Summit reaches new heights in 2014

by Gazette Reporter
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LAST week saw one of the biggest technology events to ever happen in Ireland take over the RDS and Simmonscourt, as 22,000 attendees descended on Dublin to experience the 2014 Web Summit.
The atmosphere was palpable from the first moment you entered the main area of the RDS, with well over 2,000 start-up companies at varying stages of development attempting to attract the attention of some 700 investors looking to find the next Facebook… or Tinder!
A walk around the floor of the Marketing Summit brought fascinating conversations with companies looking to take their products to the next level from all around the world from as far afield as Japan and South Africa, and more locally, like Zoodazzle, a Tallaght-based company developing a collaborative platform for mobile game development.
Wandering a little further brought you to the Machine Summit space, where companies were able to show off their products – and these included 3D printers and littlebits.cc, a tech version of Lego where kids getting started in electronics can build their own interactive creations from the individual components in each of the kits.
The impressive Centre Stage at the summit saw some of the biggest names in the world of the internet and technology pass on some of their wisdom, as well as welcoming Taoiseach Enda Kenny to ring the bell to start that day’s NASDAQ trading and Eva Longoria to talk about her new documentary, Food Chains, as well as talking about women’s representation in business.
Her presence brought the attention of the world’s media to the event, and underlined what former Apple CEO John Sculley said when he spoke about his belief that there would be a boom in terms of women in technology, and that the next Steve Jobs may well come from there.
However, it was not all business at the Web Summit – there were plenty of other events happening to appeal to all interests, including food, sports and music.
Skateboard legend Tony Hawks was on hand to talk about how his work with underprivileged children has led him to see first hand the power of philanthropy through sport, and former Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin spoke about his vision for the future of music in the digital age. As well, the Food Summit saw the best of Irish produce on offer, with artisan and craft producers putting their wares up for the taste test.
Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave was delighted with the scale and reaction to this year’s event, and said it can become even more ubiquitous as it grows.
“The Web Summit can become bigger. It’s been a pretty incredible four years. It started in a bedroom at home where I had a house share. The more diverse the people [who attend], the more the growth.
“We’ve taken a different approach and focused on the social element as well because that’s really important too.”
And so that proved, with Dublin’s streets thronged with attendees taking in special events at the Night Summit on every evening of the conference adding another dimension to the networking opportunities on offer.
Although speaking about music’s relationship with technology at the final panel of the week on the place of technology in music and movies in the 21st century, U2’s Bono summed up the spirit and ethos of the Web Summit when he said: “This is an experimental and exciting period, so let’s experiment and see what works.”

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