Dublin: Over 20,000 people have come to Dublin this week for the Web Summit 2014.
Organizers will be hosting over 500 speakers and showing the world’s most exciting startups in technology along with having leading investors and innovators present.
In just five years the event has grown from having just 400 attendees to being the largest tech conference of its kind in Europe. Now nicknamed “Davos for geeks,” this year will see speakers from Google, Amazon, Cisco, Twitter and Apple, among others, as well as celebrity faces such as U2 frontman Bono, pro-skateboarder Tony Hawk and actress Eva Longoria.
The global event kicks off today (Nov 4) and runs for three days at the RDS, Ballsbridge and various locations across the city.
Apart from Bono the other Irishmen taking to the stage include: Limerick man John Collison, who co-founded online payments company Stripe with his brother John, and Dubliner Oisin Hanrahan co-founder of Handybook, a platform that makes booking household services as easy as hailing an Uber / Hailo cab.
For the second year running the Nasdaq Opening Bell will be rung by Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, Web Summit Founder Paddy Cosgrave along with the newly appointed American Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley.
Cosgrave spoke to the Irish News about the massive growth the Web Summit has experienced.
“We started four years ago in a bedroom in Dublin and when we got too big for that, moved to the living room,” he said.
"For our first Web Summit, we had 400 people, almost all of whom had come from Ireland.
"We had three international journalists which we had to beg and harass to be there – this year we will have 1,200 journalists."
The conference is filled with start-ups and entrepreneurs. Cosgrave says the growth of the event is down to people following their passions and seeking out business opportunities.
Its popularity may also have a lot to do with Ireland’s reputation for having the “craic” (good fun).
Cograve said, “I have been to a lot of conferences and they are nine to five, but this is anything but that.”
Parties, meals, pub crawls and networking opportunities of every kind are planned across the city for the week and there’s even a Surf Summit in the west of Ireland this weekend. You never know when you might come up with that winning collaboration idea or strike a deal, right?
In fact, investor Shervin Pishevar told the Irish Times he won over Travis Kalanick in Bruxelle’s pub, off Grafton Street, in 2011. Hours later at the Shelbourne Hotel he signed a deal to invest $26.5 million in Kalanick’s ride-sharing start-up Uber.
Cosgrove also told the Irish News how in 2013 Dublin-based athlete performance analysis company Kitman Labs got a major investor on a non-alcoholic pub crawl.
"We got rugby star Jamie Heaslip on board and he took a non-alcoholic pub crawl round Dublin," said Cosgrave.
"On the tour was an American investor John Molloy, who was an early investor in PayPal and also happened to be a big rugby fan.
"Jamie told him about start-up Kitman and then two months later, he put £4 million into the company".