Watch Web Summit 2014 Dublin: Eva Longoria, Bono mix with top tech heads from Twitter and local entrepreneurs
Web Summit has become the defining tech event for Europe, bringing together the titans of industry and thought leaders from around the world.
Thousands of the world's most powerful venture capitalists and tech executives gather in Dublin for the three-day event, which has seen 20,000 people register in advance. The event also features celebrity investors such as Peter Thiel, Bono and Eva Longoria mix with homegrown tech superstars such as John Collison, co-founder of multi-billion dollar payments firm Stripe.
The event will also mix in major sports for the first time, with the likes of footballer Rio Ferdinand, UFC star Conor McGregor and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley taking to the stage to explain the future of sporting businesses. Film, music and food will also feature, with celebrity directors, producers and chefs all speaking at the conference.
The lead singer of U2 is set to talk about the future of music, media and marketing. Bono recently faced a backlash against a deal that automatically loaded U2's new album onto millions of iPhones and iPods around the world.
Hollywood actress Eva Longoria has recently diversified into philanthropy and the investment world, and will be among the star attractions.
According to Web Summit organisers, "the vast majority" of the 20,000 attendees are flying in to the country from the US, Europe and Asia.
Originally started in the bedroom of founder Paddy Cosgrave four years ago, the Web Summit has quickly grown to become one of the world's biggest technology conferences and is now a main fixture in the annual tech calendar. Mr Cosgrave's two co-founders are ex-journalist Daire Hickey and accountant David Kelly.
Day two highlights
On Centre Stage:
The main stage once again hosted a full schedule of fascinating presentations.
Afternoon highlights included:
Dana Brunetti, the producer of House of Cards and movies such as the Social Network, spoke about how the award-winning Netflix produced drama, House of Cards, truly disrupted the traditional television space. "Netflix said they wanted to release all the episodes at once and there was speculation that you'd lose the watercooler talk week to week but people are more sophisticated. Binge viewing has been around since dvd box-sets. Appointment viewing is dead and the same thing is going to happen to movies."
Jonathan Klein, CEO of Getty Images, said he can never see a world where intellectual property is free. Getty has a library of over 160,000,000 images, and Klein says that no matter what, photographers from Ohio to Dublin need to be paid for their content.
Shervin Pishevar & Scott Stanford of Sherpa Ventures joined Web Summit Founder, Paddy Cosgrave, to discuss business culture and investment success. Pishevar and Stanford met after investing in the Series B round for a young company called Uber at the Web Summit in 2011 have raised $150 million, invested in in Munchery, Shyp, Storehouse, BackOps and Coin, as well as making early stage bets on over 20 other start-up companies. “This is our fourth Web Summit,” said Stanford. “The magic began after the Summit when everybody goes to the pub.”
Around the stages:
- The Sports Stage was graced by two superstars of very different fields. Tony Hawk, world famous skater, talked about how his philanthropic work is helping children from low income areas in the US, and deprived areas internationally, and how he never imagined skateboarding would allow him to make a positive contribution. Rio Ferdinand, Premier League footballer and entrepreneur, described how Twitter “was his weapon” to show people who he really is. He revealed his managerial ambitions, hoping to take the reins of a team in the future.
- The Food Summit was attended by Alan Richman, of Man vs. Food fame. He sampled the culinary delights on offer from the 400 producers at the Herbert Park venue, before giving a press conference in Simmonscourt. He passed on the advice from his father that sparked his love of all things culinary: you don’t have to finish it, but try it.
- On the Marketing Stage Alexander Koppel, CCO of Red Bull Media House, talked about how Red Bull Media House is not just an advertising avenue for the brand, but generates profit and has become an important asset.
- At the Machine Stage, Danae Ringelmann from Indiegogo spoke about how crowdfunding has enabled millions of independent creators and makers to reach markets that were once unimaginable She shared the secrets of this revolutionary finance model and how entrepreneurs can use it to their advantage.
Day one at a glance
Highlights from the Main Stage proceedings included:
- Taoiseach Enda Kenny ringing the NASDAQ opening bell from the Web Summit. Mr. Kenny said ““We want the risk takers and the innovators here in Ireland. We intend to be the best in the world to do business and there is no more pro enterprise country in Europe.”
- Gary Marcus, scientist, best-selling author and NYU professor, discussing artificial intelligence.
- Werner Vogels, VP of Amazon, in conversation with Ben Rooney, co-editor in chief with Informilio.
- Stewart Baker, Matthew Prince and James Ball asking “is there a right to privacy”? The main talking points focused on data security: who can and should see your data, and how can you trust companies with it.
- Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, in conversation with Laurie Segall, from CNN. Drew told the audience that the motivation for Dropbox was simple. One day he forgot his thumb drive. He never wanted to have to carry one again. He described meeting Steve Jobs, when Apple wanted to acquire the business, and shared tips for running a tech company.
- John Sculley, former CEO of Apple, talking about his new book Moonshot, was asked about “the new Steve Jobs”. John said that the next Steve Jobs will be an adaptive innovator, someone who has the “genius eye”, who can adapt to the future technological landscape. He believes a “women in tech” boom is coming, and that the next Steve Jobs may well come from there.
Tax changes in Republic won't drive out tech giants: Twitter boss
One of Twitter's most senior financial bosses has said that the scrapping of the 'Double Irish' tax avoidance measure won't put the company off Ireland and that it is set to increase its investment, writes Adrian Weckler and Fionnan Sheahan.
The social network's president of global revenue, Adam Bain, said that abolition of the controversial tax incentive has not affected the way Twitter regards its Irish operations.
"I don't see why that would affect our investment here," said Mr Bain. "We're going to make a very concerted effort to continue to invest here and to grow out our team here, which is world class.
"Our team here is not only the best in Europe, it's the best in the industry. Ireland and our office here are regarded as models in our San Francisco office for how an operation should be run," he said at the Dublin Web Summit.
Fears had been raised that major tech companies could leave after the Republic's Finance Minister Michael Noonan closed the tax loophole in last month's budget.
And the former chief executive of Apple, John Sculley, said yesterday that the Government risked losing Ireland's "edge" in attracting big business.
"It will be a challenge to get as much enthusiasm from international companies to locate in Ireland if there is a tax advantage somewhere else," said Mr Sculley. "Maybe Apple loses its advantage in Ireland. It could be a problem."
However, Twitter, which employs 200 people in Dublin, is understood to be sourcing a new office headquarters here to accommodate further growth.
Separately, the head of billion-dollar software firm Evernote said that he was considering setting up a base here.
And earlier this week, Facebook executives said that the social networking giant was planning for its
Dublin office to reach 1,000 employees, up from the 500 currently employed.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny also dismissed Mr Sculley's remarks, saying that the loss of the tax loophole would not affect what he called a "congested investment line" of foreign multinationals seeking to set up bases in the country.
"I think Apple are here for the long term and many of the others are intent on expanding and not contracting," he said.
"That's because of the range of technology, our track record and essentially our talent pool which is quite extraordinary given the flexibility of our education system."
He added that Ireland had "the courage to stand and end the Double Irish". "We ended the stateless concept last year, so we have nothing absolutely to be afraid of or fearful of here, because we have got an enormous talent bank, we have got a track record that is second to none and we have got the technology to meet any challenge," he said in an interview with Independent.ie.
Ireland has been an attractive base for US multinationals for decades, thanks to the Double Irish which enables companies to channel profits made in their major markets through the country and into tax havens, paying little tax along the way.
Following pressure from the US and EU, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in the Budget that he planned to change a rule underpinning the loophole which enables a company to be registered in Ireland but not resident there for tax purposes.
The name 'Double Irish' refers to the schemes which involve multinationals setting up two Irish subsidiaries. Mr Noonan said firms already operating such schemes would have until 2020 to comply with the new rules. Immediately this sparked speculation that jobs would be under threat at major companies.
However, the head of a billion-dollar software firm currently considering whether to set up in Ireland said that the loss of the 'Double Irish' would not affect its deliberations.
"That [the Double Irish] is not one of the top five criteria for us in deciding whether or not to come to Dublin," said Evernote chief executive Phil Libin in an interview with the Irish Independent.
"We think that we need to be in the top centres for technology around the world. Dublin is one of those places. Our company is about getting the best talent.
"And what we're seeing here is great talent in engineering and other areas that are important to Evernote."
Mr Libin said that he was in discussions with the IDA on a possible base in Ireland.
Meanwhile, another multinational high-tech firm resident in Dublin has also dismissed any negative effect that the abolition of the 'Double Irish'.
"The tax structure might matter for Google and Apple but it doesn't matter for us," said Sam Chandler, founder and chief executive of Nitro, an online document software firm that employs 45 people in Dublin.
"It doesn't affect our decision here in the slightest. We're talent first, tax second. We just see thousands of talented people here. Dublin has become a mini Silicon Valley.
"It's certainly the closest thing we see to Silicon Valley in terms of the workforce available. We are definitely going to keep hiring here. We could get to 100 jobs here soon."
Mr Chandler also announced plans to open a data centre in Ireland and a $15m funding round from Battery Ventures, a US investment fund.
The tech executives' remarks may come as a relief to industrial policy bosses who have privately expressed concern about the possible effect of the Double Irish's abolition on investment decisions coming into Ireland.
Mr Kenny insisted yesterday that Ireland would continue to attract the best tech jobs available and that the popularity of the Web Summit was an example of the respect global executives have for the capital.
"Dublin is a really cosmopolitan city now and you have a massive international audience here so it is a great place to do this kind of summit," he said.
Mr Kenny highlighted that, despite changes to the tax regime, our 12.5pc corporation tax rate remains intact and pointed to the development of an information 'knowledge box.
"So I actually see the future as being even brighter for Ireland because of the fact that when you strip everything else away, the main essentials that you need for doing business in a country like Ireland are here and we can beat most of the competition internationally."
Eva Longoria can't get enough of this wonderful stuff - actress stocks up on Tayto and Jameson before she heads home
The high profile trio kicked back at one of Dublin’s premier restaurants after speaking at the Web Summit.
Actress Eva Longoria has squeezed in the best the capital has to offer since arriving on Monday morning.
Following her talk at the Web Summit, the Desperate Housewives star was joined last night for an evening of fine dining at Locks Brasserie, one of Dublin’s top restaurants located in the suburb of Portobello.
Eva (39) was joined by Jemima Khan, European editor of Vanity Fair, and British supermodel Lily Cole.
The glamorous trio wrapped up to avoid the harsh November chill, emerging from the brasserie bundled up in winter coats.
Texan-native Eva, a philanthropist and activist, was joined on stage at the fourth annual Web Summit by Jemima for a discussion about the challenges that face women in business.
“I don't allow fame to define me,” she explained. “No one wants to hear a famous person complain. They think, ‘Oh, boo hoo for them’. I became famous quite late in life - I was 28 or 29. I already had my BA, my education and I was quite set in who I am.
“If you allow the media to define you as ‘America's Sweetheart’ or the ‘funny woman’ that's where you get into trouble. Because I was so set in who I was, it brushes off me.”
The Latina beauty has embraced the role of ‘tourist’ with aplomb the last few days, and much to her delight was sent some gifts to take home from Jameson and Tayto.
During her short stay, she visited the Book of Kells and St Patricks Cathedral, and sampled some of the city’s best culinary delights.
From automatic gardens to charity 'blackmail'
Lazy gardeners can rejoice - an 'automatic garden' is among the hundreds of startups vying for investment at this year's Web Summit.
Designed by Estonian duo Lauri Kapp and Gregory Lu, the innovation is a self-sustaining eco-system which provides all the minerals, water and food your plants need to flourish.
"The automatic garden grows your salads, your herbs, your tomatoes and it's all completely automatic so you don't have to do anything," Lauri explained of the impressive-looking contraption that has a series of cup-like holders where seeds can be planted.
"Each cup is connected to the mains so water flows in and we provide growth medium and nutrients. Once you put these in to the cups you don't have to do anything for months. It will even send you an email if you are low on nutrients," he said.
The food for the apparatus, called Natufia, is all available online and the size and shape of the model can be adapted from home-to-home.
"It can be retro-fitted or custom-made to fit your home or apartment so it can be integrated into any home," Lauri added.
He explained both he and his now-friend Gregory had both been working on the same idea for the kitchen, and rather than oppose each other, decided "two heads were better than one".
÷ Fitness and forfeits are at the heart of the McDermott siblings' startup. The aptly named Forfit takes inspiration from the Ice Bucket Challenge internet craze and is a mobile application for iPhone.
The app allows friends and family to challenge one another to, for example, a run or cycle, with potentially embarrassing consequences for those not brave enough to accept.
"You sign in through Facebook and it can track your progress through GPS," explained Ronan (28) from Rathfarnham in south Dublin.
"If you don't complete the challenge then you have to carry out a forfeit. It could be a social forfeit like posting an embarrassing picture of you or something like that."
However, those unwilling to put their bodies to the test can opt out by selecting the white flag icon. Those who take that option make a small donation - with 65pc of all proceeds going towards cancer research.
The siblings, who have a passion for web and online development, say the idea came about last November when older brother Niall asked "what about an app that essentially blackmails you into doing something but means people donate to charity".
Ronan added: "Cancer awareness is something that is close to our heart and is something everybody can relate to."
The free app goes live on Friday and the McDermotts say they will offer 10pc of their business for €80,000.
÷ Friends Shihab Zafar and Asif Anwar, from Bangladesh, are on a mission to cut out business cards with their business networking site FetchPIN.
"There's 27 million business cards being printed everyday in the US alone, but 80pc are thrown away.
"This manages all your contacts and has a search function which makes it easier to find someone in particular industries," Shihab said.