Innovation
Web Summit 2014: Europe's top tech conference opens in Dublin
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Nov 4, 2014 - 8:17 AM

Peter Thiel on markets, technology, and education

Web Summit 2004: Europe's top tech conference opens in Dublin Tuesday and the 3-day event is expected to attract over 20,000 people to the headquarters of the Royal Dublin Society in South Dublin.

The first Dublin Web Summit, now called the Web Summit, took place on October 28, 2010 in the Chartered Accountants House in Dublin and about 500 attended.

It was a bleak time for the Irish economy and three weeks later an international bailout of Ireland was agreed.

Peter Thiel, the German-born co-founder of PayPal and the first outside investor in Facebook, will be one of about 600 speakers at events over the 3 days.

Last September Thiel slammed Twitter’s management and suggested the executives smoke marijuana.

“Twitter is hard to evaluate,” Thiel said. “They have a lot of potential. It’s a horribly mismanaged company—probably a lot of pot-smoking going on there. But it’s such a solid franchise it may even work with all that.”

Thiel, who was promoting his new book “Zero to One” on CNBC appeared to attribute the mismanagement to Twitter’s early years when its co-founders Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams were bitter enemies. Both of them took turns as CEO but were later demoted.

“It’s always hard to change these things,” Thiel said. “The tone, the culture gets set at the founding moments of the company so it’s very very hard to fix the DNA like that.”

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Thiel who is gay said at the time: "I suspect there probably are a number of gay CEOs who haven't announced it," Thiel said. "I suspect its mostly a generational thing."

Last week Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, announced that he was gay.

For some myth-busting and background on Irish tech policy, see here:

Dublin Web Summit 2014: Separating hype and reality

Commenting on the Web Summit Jay Bregman, a founder of Hailo, the British taxi tech firm, said at a Davy event on Monday evening: “The Summit is one of the few 'must-go' technology gatherings in the world. Its growth - supporting tens of thousands of delegates - proves how Dublin’s establishment, of which Hailo is now a key part, can scale on par with any world-class city.

“The Summit is a grand illustration of another important fact about Ireland - that it is home to some of the best tech companies and founders anywhere. It is easy to forget the Summit itself is one of Europe’s top tech start-ups led by one of its most capable founders.”

Commenting on his new robotics project Bregman said: “We are witnessing the dawn of something magical. The Internet brought our computers and ourselves together. Mobile gave us legs. Robotics will give us wings. They extend the range of human capabilities far further and far faster than any of these previous revolutions. I believe Ireland will be at the forefront of this new industrial revolution.

“But as much as I am excited I am also concerned. We need to make concerted efforts now to make sure robots first do no harm. We need to make sure they socialise smartly - that they respect privacy and that they keep us safe. We need to make them easy to use and to talk to regulators and each other. I believe this is too important to be left to laws alone. We need an architectural solution to enable the new dual-society of people and robots to work together to solve the significant problems facing the world today."

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