Europe’s Biggest Tech Conference

For those who follow my social streams, you’ll know I spent the better part of last week in Lisbon attending the massive Web Summit. It was my 4th visit to the Dublin-born tech conference, and it continues to inspire.

First and foremost, the 70,000 attendees of the sold-out event are treated to a feast of promising start-ups (and their exuberant founders) across the vast tech landscape. Secondly, the myriad sessions and talks feature a who’s who of thought-leaders from business, government and academia, all elucidating on what the future holds. AI was especially resonant this year.

At Web Summit, I get to wear a variety of hats, including as a startup judge where seven founders delivered their elevator pitches on the pitch stage, as a mentor where I have 20 minutes apiece to advise three early-stage startups, as a speaker on the Startup University stage with a founder/CEO to talk about his success, as a journalist where I grabbed video interviews with the founder/CEOs of Via (ride sharing) and Dame Products (sex toys), respectively, and finally, as an attendee where I got to see WWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Apple’s Lisa Jackson, filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, and chessmaster, political activist and home security “ambassador” Garry Kasparov.

(I unfortunately had to miss Twitter/Medium’s Ev Williams, the EU’s Margrethe Vestager, and U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, among execs from Apple, Google, Microsoft, eBay, you name it.)

I had the good fortune to meet and take the Startup University stage before an audience of 1,000  with the founder of Duo Security Dug Song. Duo simplified security at the enterprise level with its cloud-based multi-factor authorization across multiple devices. The company, which just sold to Cisco for $2.35 billion, has its headquarters, not in the Valley, Austin, Boston or in NYC, but rather in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hence the session topic explored how location factors into scaling one’s business.  Here’s the video:

Due Security’s Dug Song and Flatiron Communications’ Peter Himler

Finally, this post would be remiss without talking about Lisbon. It was my third visit to the scenic and cosmopolitan capital of Portugal, and my second year staying right in the center of town at the Hotel Santa Justa. The property is clean, comfy and walking distance to the best restaurants, upscale shops and tourist draws. It’s also two minutes from the Rossio metro stop, which is a 20-minute ride on the Blue and Red lines to th Web Summit.