WebSummit 2019 Impressions

WebSummit central stage

Last week I had my first WebSummit. Since I adore visiting conferences, I couldn’t refrain from traveling to beautiful Lisbon. Moreover, WebSummit is so much advertised in Ukrainian tech community.

Focus on startups and investments

WebSummit is a lot about meeting new people. The event is huge, almost like Gamescom in Cologne. 70000 visitors, huh! No wonder the first registration deck is available in Lisbon airport.

In a nutshell, I came to the following conclusion:

WebSummit is like Ukrainian IForum multiplied by 8 with a bias to startups and investors.

There were nicely organized conditions that help both of each business sides meet each other:

  • multiple pitch areas and contests
  • Machine Demo stage for hardware startups
  • hundreds of small startup booths (rotated every day)
  • discussion panels there and here
  • WebSummit mobile app connecting people in even easier manner
Yoga in Google zone
One of the pitches at Machine Demo stage

I had a chat with different startup founders. It was quite inspiring, especially meeting passioned Ukrainians with their ideas. Maybe next time, I’ll come to WebSummit as an investor to get entirely engaged in the startup flow.

By the way, AI was a leading theme of WebSummit. It seems every second startup is based upon AI in various applicable and inapplicable ways. There’s no wonder given the fact that modern machine learning does not require much of development efforts.

In 97%, AI is about picking an existing algorithm, not developing it
© Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO

On top of that, ML and AI are the strongest buzzwords nowadays :)

Hundreds of small startup booths

Talks are better than they say

WebSummit visitors underestimate talks. They say that networking is a king and talks are mostly useless. I want to challenge this.

Most of the talks and discussion panels take 20–25 minutes. It resembles TED talks, doesn’t it? I believe, when you are well prepared, the 20-minute timespan is good enough to convey a message. My three days of talk listening at various stages fully confirmed the opinion.

Takeaways driven by WebSummit talks

Got inspired by Werner Vogels (Amazon CTO), Katherine Maher (Wikimedia CEO) talks and the story of Uretskiy brothers who founded Digital Ocean.

Katherine Maher speaking about trust level in the world

Marc Raibert, Boston Dynamics CEO, introduced his new robots. The smallest one went entered the stage and showed his skills. It was mixed feelings of excitment and anxiety when you understand that you see a predecessor of the robot who will decide: to make friends with humans or to kill them.

Meet the robot named Spot!

How to dominate App store. Discussion panel with Olexandr Kosovan, MacPaw CEO and Riccardo Zacconi, King CEO. It was inspiring to hear and compare both opinions about product growth.

Olexandr Kosovan and Riccardo Zacconi

Wai Lee, Garmin director, said: “Think out of factory. Ideas are just your raw materials.”

Wai Lee from Garmin

Brave — fast and secure browser by Brendan Eich, Javascript creator.
Blocks ads by default. Rewards for users having ads enabled: BAT cryptocurrency exchangeable to Bitcoin and Etherium.

Brendan Eich and his Brave browser

Thomas Readon, CTRL-Labs, showed his neural interface. The future is here. It’s just amazing how their technology empowers humans!

Also, I saw my favourite football Ronaldinho and the fastest-growing kind of sports he promotes— Teqball.

Ronaldinho

And of course, I learned about a set of new tools for myself to try out: Unbabel, Usertesting.com, automated video ads creation, Slido.

WebSummit side events

When you go to WebSummit, explore other events before, during and after the show. There is plenty of them because WebSummit itself lures thousands of people from top high tech communities. I seized on opportunity to visit two of the side events:

  • Lisbon Startup Tour, by Beta-i
  • Meetup with Estonian E-Residency and Investment Agency, by Tribe Theory

I got so much useful information that it’s worth a distinct blog post :-) Long story short, both Estonia and Portugal are top countries to found or move your companies.

Last but not least, I was extremely happy to visit WebSummit together with my friend Ira. It’s been amazing and refreshing to discuss people and insights every evening during the event. Thank you, my dear!

Sincerely,
Vitaliy Mokosiy

CTO in Atola Technology. Gamification enthusiast. Agile proponent