There is no doubt that the Web Summit brought money, ideas and innovators to Dublin over the last few years. The fact that the Summit is now heading to Lisbon is somewhat disappointing in that respect. But what exactly is heading off to Portugal?
The question has to be asked. What has Paddy Cosgrave got that nobody else in Dublin has?
When we think about this and the value brought to Dublin by the Summit, we have to think about the reasons for the success of the Summit itself? Was it all down to the genius of Paddy Cosgrave? Is he a unique innovator to be spoken about in the same breath as Jobs, Gates or Zuckerberg?
There is no doubt he had achieved a lot in terms of developing the Summit and building it into an international event, but beyond that, why is it that we feel that only he can run this type of event?
Many would believe (and I remember this being touted as a reason for Dublin as the initial location) that the presence of the headquarters of so many high-tech firms in Dublin gave Paddy his start. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more gave the initial boost to the Summit enterprise.
If we look around Dublin city, we can note that none of these businesses have upped sticks and moved to Portugal. And they won’t be going there any time soon either. So the question has to be asked: What exactly is being moved to Lisbon other than Paddy Cosgrave’s business? And the more pertinent question – if another person or body were to set up a Web Summit in Dublin next year to rival the Portuguese event, which one would attract the most and best attendees?
I think the answer to that question is rather obvious. Of course a good number of international visitors would stick with Paddy, but a good number – particularly those companies with a base in Ireland – would feel that they have to support the alternative Dublin event. Or both.
And there is an awful lot that a government-supported event could offer to international visitors that Paddy can not. They have the finances, power and size to offer incentives that Paddy could never offer, such as tax breaks for particular businesses to set up here, rather than elsewhere.
If that happened, many would criticize then for hopping on a bandwagon created and constructed by a private individual, but so what? It’s called international business, not international friends. People win and lose contracts and agreements all the time, and the people who eventually win are those that have some particular advantage.
Ireland, as a country, has some powerful advantages. It has the already-mentioned high-tech companies with a base here, it is small enough that it makes sense for the government to intervene to ensure we keep this event and the benefits that flow from it, and it already has a reputation as the location for such events.
And it has another Cosgrave right here who could assume the mantel. I mean, I can charge €20 for a sandwich, if needs be, and I’m quite prepared to feted and held up as an example to youth. And I think I also have a good sense of the Fine Gael mentality – although I must say that fetish for sterling runs through all Irish political parties.
Ok, powers-that-be, you know where to contact me. The rest is up to you.