The Web Summit 2012

The Web Summit 2012

IT Wed, Oct 17
 

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  • 09:26
    Welcome to the third Dublin Web Summit. We'll be bringing you all the news from the two-day event.

    We're just kicking off here - there's apparently more than 4,000 people at the summit this year, and 200 speakers.
  • 09:28
    A few of the speakers that will be covered throughout the day: Stripe's Patrick Collison, Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, and AOL's digital prophet David Shing.
  • 09:33
    AOL's David Shing is up on the stage.
  • 09:34
    These are amazing times, he says, because there's a whole lot of young people out there that have never grown up without the internet.
  • 09:35
    We've grown out of the information age and into the social age, he says.
  • 09:35
    "Likes is a rubbish concept".
  • 09:36
    He says there's going to be a backlash - we have to be careful about what we're taking away from our social networking and posting.
  • 09:38
    The web and digital is both overwhelming and underwhelming. We need to pause, he says. We're being bombarded. Too many friends, too many followers.

    He's predicting defriending and unfollowing will be a new trend.

    It's not about size, it's about influence.
  • 09:41
    When it comes to advertising, things have changed. Influence marketing is going to become more important, "curated nicheness" will also take over.

  • 09:41
    He doesn't like the referring to the phone as a second screen - he says it's the first screen, no one walked in here clutching a TV.
  • 09:43
    Participation is going to may way beyond comment - video, photos.
  • 09:44
    We're going to programme the web around need states, he says. Connection, comfort, variety, uniqueness.
  • 09:47
    The hall has gradually filled up over the course of Shing's talk. He's encouraging people to go see the startups - you never know what will be the next "blowup".
  • 09:48
    That was fast, furious and interesting. Next up is Patrick Collison - Stripe co-founder and Irish entrepreneur. And he's not even in his mid-20s yet.
  • 09:50
    First thing he does is apologise for losing a lot of his Irish accent. He's based in San Francisco these days, and Stripe has been doing some pretty good stuff - it recently expanded into Canada.
  • 09:51
    He's talking about what it's like to be in a startup.
  • 09:52
    Stripe has gone through a small bit of growth. It started from a post-dinner conversation on web payments, and how there should be a universal system that's easy to use.
  • 09:53
    Starting a company with his brother John turned out to be a really great idea, he says.
  • 09:53
    The start of it was dev/payments - it targeted makers, the people building things. They wanted to make it easier for people to participate in payments.
  • 09:54
    January 9th 2010 - dev/payments got its first production user, to help shape the system from an early stage.
  • 09:55
    He was a friend of the pair - eventually ended up being the company's fifth hire.
  • 09:57
    For those of you who don't know, one of Dev Payments'/Stripe's first investors was Peter Thiel - Facebook investor, Paypal co-founder.
  • 09:59
    One name change and a year later, the company had its first hires, and not very much transaction volume.
  • 10:00
    Trying to get banks to talk to the company with a view to working with Stripe was a challenge, he says. "Banks and startups are the equivalent of oil and water".
  • 10:01
    But they eventually convinced Wells Fargo to get on board. Stripe officially launched in September 2011 - 19 months into its production use. It employed seven people.
  • 10:03
    We're being shown a transaction volume graph that looks a lot more impressive.

    It now employs 34 people, and thousands of companies and organisations are using the service, and more are signing up all the time.

    Stripe is building economic infrastructure for the internet. The potential of the intent hasn't been recognised as much as it could be.
  • 10:05
    Collison says the company is really excited about what the future can bring. With that, he's done, and we're into a panel discussion.
  • 10:05
    We'll take a pause there and come back for the discussion on whether the internet is killing the fourth estate.
  • 11:39
    We're back.
  • 11:41
    The panel is just taking to the stage - our own Hugh Linehan, the Observer's Henry McDonald, Newswhip's Paul Quigley, Circa's Matt Galligan (he's just launched his company) and Gabe Rivera of Techmeme.
  • 11:44
    Henry McDonald says the web has blurred divisions and boundaries. If you want to survive in this brave new world, you have to adapt and work in new ways. These days he writes stories, but also films video while he's there.
  • 11:45
    Even traditional stories require multimedia content, he says.
  • 11:46
    Newswhip, meanwhile, tracks how fast the story is spreading throughout social networks. If a story gets traction, it moves up to the top of the page.
  • 11:46
    It's like have millions of editors deciding the front page of a paper.
  • 11:51
    Circa is the new kid on the block. The iOS app only launched in the last couple of days.

    It's made for those who want to read news on smartphones - so you need condensed experiences. So Circa is different from news aggregators, because the content is designed for phones. It makes breaking news stories easier to follow - the company has journalists working for it, the updates are pushed out in bite size chunks that can be easily flipped through.
  • 11:51
    It's an interesting proposition.
  • 11:56
    The subject of aggregators has raised its head. Do aggregators link or not? Do they try to keep you on their site or push you towards the original articles? Techmeme works on pushing readers to sites.
  • 11:59
    The definition of a reporter has changed, and the old definition of a scoop has lost its economic value.

    McDonald points towards the coverage of the Syrian crisis as a way the old and new media can work together. While there are plenty of reporters delivering eyewitness reports from the front lines, there is a lot of material is being sent from the ground, by ordinary citizens, bloggers using mobile phones to video events.

    The content is filtered and analysed to make sure they're genuine - core standards have to remain, he says.
  • 12:00
    We're having a few technical issues - it wouldn't be a tech conference with out them - so bear with us.
  • 12:01
    With that, they're wrapping up the panel discussion, and Jolicloud's Tariq Krim is on stage.
  • 12:02
    We'll take a short break here.
  • 15:49
    Our wifi access has been somewhat problematic for the day - that's what happens when you put a few thousand people in one place!

    But here's some of the news that has been announced at the Web Summit so far.
  • 15:51
    Coder Dojo founder James Whelton has been awarded an Ashoka fellowship. That means he joins a network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, and has access to investor funding.
  • 15:52
    Earlier I met with a few of the kids that have taken part in Coder Dojo. Twelve years of age and Shane Curran already has his own company.
  • 15:54
    Quickest way to make yourself feel like an underachiever?
  • 15:54
    Web content management firm pTools has launched its new software as a service content management system.
  • 15:56
    According to Web Summit organiser Paddy Cosgrave, the web Summit could potentially contribute €12 million to the economy over the next two days and beyond.
  • 15:56
    It's certainly good news for the hotels around here - a few weeks ago we were told the Four Seasons had been booked out for the first time in a while.
  • 16:08
    There's also a new Irish social promotion platform that's helping to raise money for clubs, charities etc called Knudger.com. It's brand new but it's kicking off with a worthy cause - Movember.
  • 16:09
    If you want to help out, go to http://www.knudger.com/dws and sign up for the web summit movember group. You have to connect some accounts and share the campaign link, but each time your followers click on a link, the Movember campaign gets a donation.
  • 16:10
    If you walk the conference floor, there's plenty to see. And lots of companies are trying to entice people with the odd freebie here and there.
  • 16:12
    So far, we've seen everything from cupcakes and drinks, to the obligatory tshirts and caps. Microsoft has a smoothie bar - you collect a couple of stamps and they give you a free drink.
  • 16:13
    I think the prize for the most interesting one of the day has to go to the company that's giving out the mini vibrating keyrings. It's a startup called Vibease.
  • 16:16
    it's an accessory that works with a smartphone. For couples who want to keep up the intimacy while apart. If you know what I mean.
  • 16:16
    Anyway, they're certainly getting some attention.
  • 16:17
    Still to come: Niklas Zennstrom and Pinterest co-founder Paul Sciarra.
  • 16:17
    Wifi permitting, they'll both be covered live on the blog.
  • 16:22
    For those who were waiting for Kevin Rose, he had to pull out so Sciarra is taking his place.
  • 16:30
    Anyone interested in how Pinterest got started?
  • 16:31
    The original vision for Pinterest wasn't what we see today. The founders (Sciarra and Ben Silbermann) wanted to take what was great about catalogues - the visual aspect - and bring it to mobile phones.
  • 16:34
    Small drop out in Wifi there, I wasn't trying to keep you in suspense. Anyway, it seemed people liked the feature where you could bookmark things.
  • 16:35
    There's a distinguished list of people who turned down the chance to invest in the company, apparently.
  • 16:36
    Apparently a lot of VCs didn't get Pinterest - they were rejected by almost every VC going.
  • 16:39
    The whle romantic notion of the early days pf startups is amyth, Sciarra says. Living and working in a grotty house was "pretty miserable".
  • 16:40
    "We had a succession of really crappy offices in true startup style. Poorly decorated as well."
  • 16:41
    Perhaps they needed a Pinterest board to redecorate.
  • 16:42
    The one thing that kept them going: the reaction from users.
  • 16:45
    But what about monetisation? Sciarra says he doesn't speak for the company, but some form of advertising may be an idea.
  • 16:45
    Definitely no "punch the monkey" ads though.
  • 16:47
    Sciarra has since left Pinterest - officially he is now entrepreneur in residence at Andreessen Horowitz.
  • 16:48
    "I'm excited to get to work on another project, and hopefully sometime soon." he's particularly excited around consumer. Investors are unhappy with the consumer space, he says, but that could be a good opportunity for entrepreneurs.
  • 16:48
    He's also keen on mobile, a mobile first perspective is an interesting idea.
  • 16:50
    Next up: Niklas Zennstrom.
  • 16:51
    He's one of the continent's most successful tech entrepreneurs. He sold Skype twice. Now he runs a fund called Atomico, investing in tech ventures around the world. Some of his investments: Hailo and Angry Birds maker Rovio.
  • 16:53
    Zennstrom loves disruptive companies. This is the man that was involved in Kazaa remember.
  • 16:54
    The problem we had was that we were way ahead of our time. The incumbents – record labels – didn’t want to touch the internet.
  • 16:55
    So, we all know how Kazaa ended.
  • 16:55
    Hailo, though, is doing well and expanding.
  • 16:58
    His advice to companies: if you have something that works, you have to go out and scale internationally very quickly or else someone is going to copy you.
  • 17:00
    The internet is global and has no real borders, Zennstrom says. So in other words, it's not enough to be the biggest company in Ireland. We need to be looking further afield.
  • 17:03
    You can learn a lot by working for an entrepreneurial company, Zennstrom says.
  • 17:03
    It's all part of an ecosystem that is only going to improve.
  • 17:08
    Companies need to approach things differently. it's not a case of building companies for Ireland. It's global - so a diverse team is a bonus, even if it makes understanding each other a little more difficult.
  • 17:13
    The whole thing of entrepreneurship is close to his heart and should be celebrated. But ti's not that everyone in the room should go and start their own company - if five people in the room start their own firm and are successful, and 50 people join them, they're all entrepreneurs in his book.
  • 17:13
    So you don't always have to start your own firm. It's a big commitment - it's easier to leave if it doesn't work out. If you're the founder, you have to go down with the ship.


  • 17:14
    With that, it's time up for Zennstrom.

  • 17:16
    And that brings the first day of the Web Summit to a close. The liveblog will pick up again tomorrow with PCH International's Liam Casey.
  • 09:48
    We're back at the Web Summit for day two. Liam Casey of PCH International is on the main stage now discussing what it takes to do business abroad.
  • 09:49
    If you aren't familiar with PCH, the company is headquartered in Cork but has significant operations in China.
  • 09:52
    It's a supply chain management and development firm - it also has an accelerator programme that helps get products to market on a large scale. The accelerator started over a year ago. Casey likens it to going to gym - no one really likes to do it but it keeps you fit.
  • 09:52
    Companies also need to stay fit, he says.
  • 09:55
    We're currently being shown a new product that is coming out of a new accelerator company PCH is working with.
  • 09:55
    It's a robot that you talk to, and it learns over time. It also connects with other devices (weighing scales, fitbit etc) and learns more information about you.
  • 09:57
    It doesn't look like it will one day take over the planet, but you never can tell. I'm pretty sure Skynet wasn't always going to spell the end of humanity either.
  • 09:57
    It's quite cute actually. It's also cheap - about $200. It has wifi. And it blinks.
  • 09:58
    And it talks to you. Take that, Siri.
  • 09:59
    It could be used for healthcare - reminding you to take pills etc.
  • 09:59
    More on that later - I'll swing by the PCH booth and get a video demo.
  • 10:05
    Liam Casey is done for now.

    The highlights of today will include internet activist Wael Ghonim, and director Barry Sonnenfeld.
  • 10:07
    Flipboard's Mike McCue is the final speaker on the main stage tonight - that also promises to be an interesting one. And don't forget, the final of the Spark of genius competition will take place this evening too.
  • 10:19
    The names of the category winners for the Spark Of Genius compeition are out.
    Tjobs SA, Movable Ink, Ovelin and Social Fortress were named top in Mobile, Social, Consumer and Enterprise categories - they will now compete against each other lfor the overall prize. it's a cash prize fund of €100,000 that's up for grabs.
  • 10:22
    A little about each of the companies.

    Tjobs is aiming to make recruitment processes more efficient. It incorporates an online recruitment portal with a wide network of recruitment agencies.

    Moveable Ink is a US based firm that allows marketers to make emails as dynamic as webpages.

    Ovelin is a music app that it says will change the way the way that people learn  musical instruments. The first product is WildChords – a guitar based app for the iPad.

    Social Fortress, meanwhile, will help enterprises to use cloud and mobile technologies.
  • 10:22
    So they're the four finalists. The winner is announced on the main stage at 4.30pm.
  • 13:59
    We're getting ready at the main stage for Wael Ghonim.

    In the meantime, I had cupcakes (courtesy of RTE) and got serenaded by a robot. And almost died of embarassment.

  • 14:04
    Not this robot.
  • 14:04
  • 14:05
    This robot is the healthcare one. It reminds you to take your pills and work out.
  • 14:05
    Autom.
  • 14:07
  • 14:07
    It was this giant thing.
  • 14:07
    Thisone sprayed water from its eyes.
  • 14:21
    Anyway.Slightly later than expected, Wael Ghonim is on stage,
  • 14:22
    He was involved in the sparking the Egypt revolution on social media.
  • 14:22
    These days, he meets politicians more than geeks - his words - which is "not cool".
  • 14:23
    He was part of the campaign for change - he set up the Facebook page We Are All Khaled Said.
  • 14:24
    He used all his professional skills - internet marketing and advertising - to get momentum for the campaign,
  • 14:26
    He says people who work in media and technology are the change agents for the world - they ca have a bigger impact than they imagine.
  • 14:27
    Bridging the gap between the virtual and real world was successful for Wael. "It starts with the belief that those who are online are not zombies. The other thing is to find the kind of activities that appeal to them."
  • 14:28
    They came up with ideas and surveyed users to see if they appealed to them.
  • 14:29
    Once they believe there is a reason behind it, people are going to join, he says.

    "A lot of people think an activist is some one who distances himself from the people. The Khaled Said page was very mainstream."
  • 14:30
    The page was tailored for mainstream rather than activists, he says.
  • 14:30
    Seems like it paid off though, even if, as Wael says, they were made fun of by activists.
  • 14:33
    We all know how that one went. Chalk one up for the mainstream.
  • 14:37
    "I don't agree with those that say this is a Facebook revolution. This is a people's revolution."

    The Facebook page was originally anonymous, but after he was arrested it came out that Wael was behind it

    "Anonymity has value - you feel safe. But also it provides a lot people with the belief that the guys behind it aren't taking any credit." There are good and bad sides to it, he says, but in general it was beneficial in his experience.
  • 14:38
    It's an ongoing debate of course - anonymity in that respect is beneficial, but we all know that it can also be used in a negative way.
  • 14:41
    Talk has turned to political advertising. We'll leave it there and come back later for Barry Sonnenfeld's talk.
  • 15:31
    There's a bit of wifi weirdness going on again.
  • 15:34
    But so far everyone has been pretty complimentary about the web summit, and there is talk about IDA Ireland adding a few more international tech firms to its portfolio. Hootsuite, for example. We're trying to persuade Flipboard to follow Google and Facebook too.
  • 15:59
    If you've been following the Electric Ireland Spark of Genius competition, the finalists have just been announced.
  • 16:00
    It's Ovelin, Tictail, Smartthings and Vibease.
  • 16:02
    A few words about each of them. Ovelin is the music learning app I mentioned earlier. Tictail helps you create an online store - it's aiming to be the Tumblr of ecommerce, apparently.
  • 16:03
    Smartthings, meanwhile, turns everything smart, so you can run your life via your smart phone.
  • 16:03
    And Vibease... well Vibease is the crowd that were giving out the mini massage keyrings.
  • 16:04
    It's a "personal massager" that's controlled via an app.
  • 16:06
    So... any bets on who will win?
  • 17:15
    We've just had Barry Sonnenfeld and Michael Acton Smith interviewed on the Irish Times couch
  • 17:16
    Videos can be found here http://www.irishtimes.com/videoplayer/
  • 17:19
    The winner of the Spark of Genius: Smartthings.
  • 17:47
    It could be as early as the first quarter of next year when we see Smartthings' vision of how your home should really work come into effect. That's when they're aiming to have products available.
  • 17:47
    And they may consider locating an office in Ireland too - they're looking at european options at the moment.
  • 17:48
    Flipboard's Mike McCue has also been on stage, talking about everything from the current change in the media to iPad mini.
  • 17:48
    "This is the rebirth of the publishing industry," he said. "People are figuring out how to do digital based journalism. We're still in the early days, the mainstream players will be still be around, but there is an opportunity for lots of new players too."
  • 17:49
    That also extends to the monetisation of content. "What advertisers want is access to an audience in a controlled, focused way. We are pioneering, as an industry, from the ground up, the monetisation of content once again."
  • 17:50
    As for the iPad Mini, he didn't have any insider info. But he said the company will probably approach it in a similar way to the existing iPad app.
  • 17:50
    So it's been a long two days, but the Web Summit is finally drawing to a close.
  • 17:51
    Lots of great companies and startups - and some very interesting speakers.
  • 17:52
    That's the end of our live coverage. There's plenty of video content though, so keep an eye out on http://www.irishtimes.com/videoplayer/ for new material.