Web Summit 2017 – Day 1: Opening Night, Lifelong Friends
Just 12 short months ago, we were in Lisbon attending the first Web Summit to be hosted in this magnificent city. It was a momentous event for many reasons, not least that it coincided with the geopolitical earthquake emerging from Washington and a resulting intake of breath from the tech glitterati congregated in the MEO Arena that week.
So, what has changed since and what’s ahead of us at Web Summit 2017?
Whilst many of us continue to struggle with the concept of a Donald in The White House by contrast, Web Summit and Lisbon feel like a match made in heaven as gorgeous autumnal sunshine, smiling faces and a super streamlined registration process greeted our arrival at the Humberto Delgado airport. As a “wi-fi connected” metro sped us into town, one could easily believe we’re in the perfect city.
And if you want to see the direct impact that Web Summit is bringing Lisbon, look no further than our own team at Linkilaw. We enjoyed it so much in 2016, we have decided to open an office here in 2017 and so, we attend this year’s event as quasi-local residents no longer pestered by the absurdity of Brexit, but concerned with building an operational base in the city and imposing a restriction on our daily consumption of Pastel de Nata’s.
Moving to Lisbon as a result of Web Summit is looking like a popular choice as we discovered when bumping into Thomas Balouet and his team from Virtuleap (www.virtuleap.com), who are doing exactly the same. “Bem Vindo A Lisboa”
As for the main event, it was opening ceremony night and those with hot tickets to the re-named Altice Arena, perched alongside the famous River Tagus, were treated to talks, Q&As and videos from such luminaries as Dr Stephen Hawking, Margrethe Vestager (European Commission for Competition), António Guterres
(Secretary-General, United Nations) and António Costa (Prime Minister of Portugal), the latter joined by The Mayor of Lisbon for a formal opening of Web Summit 2017.
Glancing across the 3 day schedule and the most obvious development since last year is the speed at which AI is now impacting every sector. Multiple talks are peppered with references to the topic and a list compiled on the “100 Top Start-Ups at Web Summit”, is underpinned by the creeping omnipotence of AI.
Within his video contribution, Stephen Hawking brought together polar strands of opinion about the potential impact of AI as he talked of humanity standing “on the threshold of a brave new world” but that “we need to take a step back and concentrate on the societal benefits of AI”.
The wonderful @vestager spoke with steely-eyed conviction about the need for strict oversight of technology companies and the moneyed elite, particularly with recent publicity about certain tax avoidance schemes. She mentioned “events like the Panama papers and paradise papers are helping drive change but those tax intermediaries have to start taking responsibility” and then contrasted current US government attitude to regulation with that in Europe “we want a free market in Europe but we know the paradoxes are we have to intervene”. This received one of the warmest rounds of applause.
She concluded with the importance of not letting untethered algorithms dictate the agenda, “we want algorithms to play by the book, and not learn tricks of the old cartels”.
Another highlight was Bryan Kennedy, founder of Braintree and now Kernal. His new company led by the mantra of “How do I create the most value for the human race?” … oh, for that mantra to spread across the world.
Opening speakers and launch party hullabaloo were but a foretaste of the extraordinary roll call of entrepreneurs, startups and technologies about to enter the web summit arena over the next three days. It’s described as The Glastonbury of Tech and much like that festival institution, it’s impossible to see everything you want.
As the 170 nationalities represented at this event then tumbled out onto the cobbled Lisbon streets for Pub Summit, an eclectic
range of conversations was bound to follow.
Within our small cohort of rapidly forming friendships, we chewed over a gamut of topics from Blockchain, Lisbon, Hawking,Benfica, AI and Brexit, before stumbling home to prepare for the fun ahead, with a tightly scheduled itinerary to hand.
Linkilaw provides a low-cost legal platform for startups and fast growth companies.
Based in London (and Lisbon) we are exhibiting at Web Summit on Weds 8th October. Come and visit at Stand Number 127, START Exhibition Area.
We’re here all week and love to chat so please get in touch via www.linkilaw.com or @linkilaw
Need Legal Advice For Your Startup?
Make sure to book a free Startup Legal Session with us today! You’ll get customised advice from a Linkilaw legal expert about how to build a solid legal foundation that will help grow your startup.