Over the past few weeks there has been a spotlight placed on Paddy Cosgrave. This has been due to his recent announcement that next year’s Web Summit will be held in Lisbon, Portugal and the subsequent publication of a series of correspondence between Cosgrave and senior government officials.
Cosgrave is founder of Web Summit, one of the biggest events in the tech industry’s calendar. This annual technology conference, now in its fifth year, has taken place in the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) for the past four years and transforms Dublin into the world’s tech capital for three days of the year.
The Web Summit, according to Cosgrave, is being moved out of Ireland to support future growth and provide attendees with the best possible experience. Lisbon, which was one of a number of European cities that had been vying to host the next Web Summit, was selected due its low rents, affordable IT talent and emergence as one of Europe’s new tech ecosystem.
However, the decision to leave was only made after negotiations between Cosgrave and his team and the Irish government broke down. It is clear from the emails published that relationships quickly deteriorated in the four weeks leading to his decision to move to Portugal. The emails were published by Cosgrave to highlight the government’s lack of response and willingness to draw up an action plan for a 2016 Web Summit. Cosgrave had repeatedly requested State assistance for the conference and that a one page plan to be drawn up for next year’s event with the primary focus on traffic management, public transport, hotels costs and WiFi. The main concern was that without such a plan in place, the Web Summit 2016 would be ‘too big, too unmanageable, too risky for Dublin’.
Enda Kenny’s response to the move has been that the Web Summit’s decision to locate to Lisbon was a ‘commercial’ one and that the government had been ‘supportive, very encouraging all along the line.’
Despite recent reports by the Sunday Business Post, TheJournal have recently clarified that Kenny has in fact been invited to this years Web Summit, but has not yet responded to the invitation.
According to Fáilte Ireland, last year’s Web Summit was worth an estimated €100million to the Irish economy. It was attended by well over 22,000 people and included renowned business leaders from the likes of Google, Facebook and many of the Fortune 500 companies. This year it is due to bring in 30,000+ people and will showcase over 500 world-famous speakers across 10 stages and host 2,000 startups that have come from across the globe to exhibit their ideas. There will also be more than 200 satellite events taking place, hundreds of investors interested in new ideas, and 800 of the best tech journalists.