When the Web Summit broke up with Dublin, it was received with mixed responses.
There was the “well I kinda saw it coming, we weren’t really working out, alongside the “I wish you all the best” break-up. There was the “but I’ve given you everything — we go back, so long… why?!” response. Some accused the new love, Lisbon, as a hussy — offering incentives to lure the event to Lisbon, while others shouted “but my life is all about this, I won’t survive.”
Overall, this a storm in a tech tea cup. The reality is Paddy and co have created an event which brings in plenty of revenue from multiple sources and anyone who is going to criticise this is making no difference. So what if Government agencies gave support. The reality is that for a brief period, Dublin got it’s moment in the limelight.
However, we need a reality check when it comes to the “smart economy” in Ireland. Living beside Google HQ for the past 7 years, I have watched the change of the area — from old school families in Ringsend, to twenty-something year old men riding scooters! Dublin is now a swarm of solowheels, expensive coffee, and even more expensive rent. Apart from the likes of Intercom, we have very few Irish tech companies creating employment in Dublin.
From managing two different events at the Web Summit, I have had my ups and downs with the organisers of the the event, but I admire and respect their decision. They have created a great brand and network. Unlike other digital events and companies in Ireland, they have always been welcoming beyond the tech discipline. They have hosted charities, marketing heads, food, music and more.
For me this is the problem with the tech sector in Dublin — there is great opportunity but a series lack of diversity of people and perspective. Events are tech people and often unwelcoming. The Summit overcame this problem by looking at other fields — pairing different disciplines with technology. The Irish perspective is chasing VCs and not solving wider problems which could be tested in Ireland and scaled abroad.
Despite investment by Government agencies, an appointment of a “Commissioner for Startups,” a million and one #lifestyle blogs, endless tech events and blogger awards, we have yet to create a indigenous companies we could be proud of. Proud for not just creating jobs, but making a difference in the world.
Let’s be honest about our greatness and maybe the break-up next time won’t be so hard to deal with.
Good luck Lisbon!