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Lisbon welcomes Web Summit: the Davos of the tech world

November 13th, 2017

Web Summit has steeply grown since it started in 2009, now with over 60,000 participants. Photo: Web Summit

Tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, corporate leaders and technology experts gathered in Lisbon for Web Summit, the largest technology conference in the world and the most global gathering of CEO’s.

It was the second time Web Summit arrived in Lisbon, with speakers and attendees booking almost every hotel in town. Over 60,000 people from 170 countries participated, aiming at creating collisions between startups, investors, and others so they share insights and forge relationships.

Web Summit was originally called the Dublin Web Summit and has been held annually since 2009. Founded by Irishmen Paddy Cosgrave, David Kelly and Daire Hickey, for the first five years the event was held in Dublin. In September 2015, Cosgrave announced it would be held in Lisbon starting in 2016.

The over 1,000 names on the speakers list for this year included high-level political figures such as UN Secretary-General António Guterres, EU Competition Commissioner Margarethe Vestager, former French President François Hollande and former US Vice President Al Gore.

In addition, some of the biggest names in tech participated such as Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, Microsoft president Brad Smith, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield, Asana co-founder and CEO and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

Web Summit calls itself ‘the largest tech conference in the world,’ but I actually think it’s broader than tech,” says Michael Chui, partner at the McKinsey Global Institute. “It provides a forum for a global, diverse set of people from all types and sizes of companies, but all passionate about innovation.”

What started as a small event with just 400 attendees back in a single room in Dublin in 2009 has since ballooned into a giant affair that is now billed as one of the “must-attend” tech conferences. It has also led to a plethora of sister events including Rise, Collision and MoneyConf, the latter of which will be held in Ireland next year.