I went to Web Summit

I went to Web Summit

I'd never been to the world's biggest technology event (according to @websummit's Twitter bio), but I was seeing people gathering in Lisbon to not only escape whatever November leaf-falls they might have back in their cities but also to party and make the world a better place.

I was naturally eyeing that with a mild dose of FOMO.

I never felt I could go. It always seemed to far, too expensive, not at the right time, {insert any other excuse here}

This was the first year when it felt like reality. I felt mature enough to spend 4 days mingling between strangers and ad kiosks for 3 consecutive days in a big hangar on the outskirts of Lisbon.

I checked the tickets and still felt like quite an expensive idea. The more expensive idea was only to spend 4k€ on App Store ads for 10 installs last year.

I was lucky though because my buddy Martijn shook hands with Paddy and got me a ticket that I could split three-ways. 300€ didn't sound that bad already.

I made a commitment by buying that ticket but completely oversaw that I didn't have an Airbnb. Admittedly, nights in Lisbon are pretty warm but sleeping under a bridge could be a little uncomfortable. Mostly, because of the noise.

I've heard before that crypto bros had colonised the city and sent accommodation prices soaring. I can only confirm it now. I managed to find a half-decent Airbnb without having to sell a kidney (not the most sustainable option because I can then only go to Web Summit twice).

I reckon, it's better to book at least a few months in advance though. If you have commitment issues like me, I get you, but it's worth trying — it's really hard to fall asleep outside with all the traffic and drunk Summit people on a noble quest to empty stock of all bars.

I had no solid goals for what I wanted to get out of this overgrown EU–American tech meet-up. I rarely go to events.

I thought maybe I'd meet people working on interesting things. Maybe, more folks from web3 or #BAYC (especially useful given I'm working on a watch brand for them). Maybe, someone who'd be interested to ditch Google Translate API and switch to @MateAPI's marvellous flat-fee plan.

And although the premise of everyone conveniently coming down to one place from all over the world is true, meeting them at the conference isn't the most convenient way.

As @caldie spoke wisely, "You just need to be in the city where something big is happening but not necessarily go there unless someone else pays for it."

Thousands of people rushing in every possible direction on their way to one of hundreds self-promotional talks moderated by someone with a strong Irish accent. Two-hour queues to enter the venue — despite the noble status of already the badge wearer.

I managed to meet a few amazing Apes and folks from tech in general and meet up with friends that I haven't seen in a long time. Ironically, outside of Web Summit.

There was a talk of Yuga Labs's co-founder @CryptoGarga after which I hoped to catch him and show the @AffeWatches sketch, but he tweeted out that we wouldn't be holding the keynote when I was already sitting on a torturing device that Web Summit tried to sell as chairs.

Sad and relieving at the same time, though I, and headed out of pavilion to have an overpriced tofu bao and head back to the city for some proper introverted entertainment.

If I were a writer, I'd go to such events to just watch different types of people who paid or did not pay for the privilege to share the pavilion with 70,000 other humans.

There were swag hoarders who skilfully manoeuvred past the sales bros and were there just for the free merch that some startups were giving away in exchange for free ad space on one's chest. This category is having perhaps the most fun at such events.

Then there were startup founders who looked as if they just finished a marathon with their little kiosks trying to catch the passerby's attention with their product.

One needs to distinguish kiosks of startups and enterprise here. They have nothing in common. The former have dozens of staff that enjoy their coffee breaks and rotations and the spacious booth their company had booked for them.

Startups were crammed next to each other at the 10 cm distance without separators — reminiscing of open spaces at the offices of the leading world-a-better-place makers — with 1 or 2 founders trying to talk to 5 people simultaneously all day long.

Anything but sympathy and respect to those founders. Especially if they're fellow introverts.

There were also enterprise bros wearing white shirts and looking very serious as if they were making the world a better place (darn, they are).

All in all, it was a weird mix of booths where countries tried to lure investments into their economy (Germany had the biggest stand, but my heart goes to Invest in Central Poland — emphasis on Central), FAANG tried to get even more people hooked on AWS, Google Cloud, etc.

Siemens tried to act as if they're keeping up with progress by funding the AI stand. web3 startups, fintech, companies funded by top-tier VCs, companies funded by governmental programmes...

And, in-between pavilions, lots of food vendors — probably the only ones who were turning profits there.

Would you ask me for the bottom line, I'd say it's an interesting experience, but it's unlikely I will go again. There's more value and less stress in being in the city at the time of event and catch up with all your Twitter friends and meet new in bars and cute cafes instead.

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