Bono was about to take the center stage, so that was good enough a reason for me to invade one of the front seats a few hours in advance. However, it wasn’t the charismatic frontman of U2 who stood out as the true star of this year’s Web Summit.
Bono did not disappoint. On the contrary, he was straightforward, down-to-earth, stimulating and witty. “One of the things I love about being at the Summit is all these people remind me of being in a band. The same kind of people that would be in bands are now forming start-ups", Mr. Hewson stated, proving once again that success comes easier to those who have the rare ability to say the right thing at the right time.
That being said, albeit Bono addressed a jam-packed house & the V sign he made while getting off the stage was indicative of his performance, the undisputed protagonist of Web Summit was its Founder Paddy Cosgrave and all the great speakers that joined him this year.
It all started in 2009 when the conference attracted 400 attendees. This year Web Summit brought together 22.000 delegates from 109 countries, over 700 investors, 614 speakers, 2.160 startups and 1.324 journalists. And, according to Fáilte Ireland figures, the tech event fetched around €100m to the local economy.
Still, despite its massive appeal, Web Summit was as human as it gets. Customer care was close to flawless, the hundreds of employees and volunteers were friendly and the Festival was a nice blend of knowledge-sharing, fun & networking.
It seems, hence, that Cosgrave was right when he said that Web Summit is not “Davos for Geeks”, as somebody described it once, but (more fittingly) the “Glastonbury for Geeks”. For, after all, “there’s no snipers on the roof” [only Web Summit coloured sheep].
So, yes, you did read about the problematic wi-fi and there’s always room for improvement, but all that matters in the end are the valuable insights & tips that all these great speakers shared with us:
Shane Snow (Co-Founder, Contently):
“Brands need to become givers rather than askers. This means that we need to stop creating sales messages that distract, repel and annoy and start telling stories that people want to connect with and become a part of."
Chris Clarke (Chief Creative Officer, DigitasLBI):
“Data in essence is people in disguise. Use data to understand what interests your customers and what motivates them.”
Dharmesh Shah (Co-Founder, Hubspot):
“Debates should be won by those with better arguments, not those with bigger job titles.”
Sarah Wood (Co-Founder, Unruly):
“One of the key triggers, statistically, for shareability is emotional intensity.”
Rob Newlan (Head of EMEA, Facebook Creative Shop):
“Creating content is marketing for people, not at them.”
David Tisch (Box Group):
“I’ll look at your pitch, as long as it wasn’t a copy and paste. If you send me a copy and paste pitch, I’ll send you a copy and paste rejection.”
Norm Johnston (Chief Digital Officer, Mindshare Worldwide):
“Programmatic is an adaptive marketing engine that can drive your business forward; it’s not just about efficiency; efficiency is a bi-product and we shouldn’t lose sight of the strategic value of Programmatic.”
Adam Bain (President of Global Revenue & Partnerships, Twitter):
“Revenue is like oxygen. It’s essential, but that’s not the reason to live.”
Andrew Markowitz (Director, Global Digital Strategy, GE):
“It’s not about avoiding disruption, it is about becoming the disruptor.”
David Arabov (CEO, Elite Daily):
“We find anything written above an 8th grade level doesn't go very far in social.”
Dave McClure (Founding Partner, 500 Startups):
“VCs have the attention span of a 7 year old on Ritalin.”
Dharmesh Shah (co-Founder, Hubspot):
“Amazing people need a purpose beyond profits.”
Padmasree Warrior (CTO, Cisco):
“(What keeps me up at night) is the pace of change. Companies that were leaders six years ago aren’t around today. 40% of Fortune 500 won’t exist in the next few years.”
Dana Brunetti (Tigger Street Productions -House of Cards):
“People are more savvy about how they consume their TV. You have to give the audience what they want, how they want it, when they want it, and they won’t steal it.”
Julia Hartz (President, Eventbrite):
“Our biggest lesson was to not be fearful. Don't let fear lead to you not trying things.”
John Hayes (CMO, American Express):
"To be young is to believe that the future will be better than the past.”
Great quotes, huh?
Paddy Cosgrave & Co are still very young, so they'll keep striving for bigger and better. They are passionate and fearless, and with good reason. Web Summit was "born" in a bedroom and did quickly evolve into a world-class Festival with 11 summits…
… a great Festival, indeed, where drones fly in the air…
…where Drew Houston, the Founder of Dropbox, picks up a guitar and starts playing Oasis.
… and exhibitors come single and leave a married couple
P.S. Would you like to attend another great event for only 50 euro? Book your seat for ICEEfest 2015 & get ready to welcome on stage over 50 Digital Marketing experts from across the world.
P.S.2 Each and every Center Stage talk, debate, panel and presentation is now available here for free. Enjoy!