The Web Summit’s move to Lisbon will enable the world’s largest gathering of startups to overcome logistical problems at its previous home in Dublin, said Paddy Cosgrave, the summit’s founder and chief executive officer.
“The venue that we used in Dublin was very, very small. It wasn’t built for conferences, it was built for horse shows,” Cosgrave said at a press conference in Lisbon. “In the case of Lisbon, you have a world-class facility with very, very strong public transport connections and it’s also very close to the airport.”
The decision to move the event, which started in Dublin five years ago and has attracted chief executives from companies such as Tesla Motors Inc, Netflix Inc. and Skype, is a blow to Ireland’s efforts to portray itself as Europe’s Silicon Valley. The change took place following logistical difficulties such as Wi-Fi outages and a lack of access to public transportation at the 2014 meeting. This year, the summit, which is expected to attract about 50,000 visitors, will be held at the MEO arena in Lisbon, the site of the 1998 Expo.
“The city is just so perfect,” said Cosgrave, referring to similarities between Lisbon’s red suspension bridge and San Francisco’s Golden Gate. “I have no doubt that hundreds, maybe thousands of people will arrive here from San Francisco and say: wow, did they copy us?”
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