A Web Summit Magellan in the techie 21st century

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MARY ROSE MAGSAYSAY

MARY ROSE MAGSAYSAY

AS I sought to brush up on my knowledge ofRegTech and Fintech for the ease of its overlay on legacy systems of governments that I have a specialization on, I asked my mentor in tech Paul Pajo where I could do this and he suggested that I go to the Web Summit 2016 which generally sets the trends for the whole world’s Tech Ecosystem. From its initial 400 attendees in 2009, the Web Summit has become “Europe’s largest and most important technology marketplace”. It’s the unrivalled global meeting place for the world’s most disruptive technology players.

This year’s Web Summit was held in Lisbon, Portugal, which will be its venue for another two more years. As Bloomberg puts it, “This is Davos for Geeks”.

According to Richard Forde of the summit’s media and communication, the statistics generated this year surpassed the projected numbers. The number of attendees was 53,056 from 166 countries, while thefemale/male gender ratio was 42 percent to 58 percent, with over 4 million views on Facebook Live. I for one got mentioned twice and it felt good hearing my name associated with the Philippines and posted my experiences on my Facebook feed.

Those who couldn’t be in Lisbon were watching the Centre Stage talks live on the Web Summit Facebook page, with the livestreaming picking up 4,207,053 views over the course of the three-day event. I had received my link for the Web Summit App 2 weeks before the meet and according to the statistics emailed to me, there were 1,835,841 messages sent through the Web Summit app. The average time spent per session in the app was 12.26 minutes.


Incidentally, a whopping 97,000 pasteis de nata was consumed–that’s a lot of pastry! What was it washed down with? “Coffee and lots of it”. Thirty-seven thousand kilometers of fiber cables were laid–that’s enough cable to run from sea level to the peak of Mount Everest four times. There were 34,700 seats set out for attendees to catch talks in 17 stages for all the 21 redesigned, standalone conferences.

In attendance were 1,490 startups from across the globe; 135 joined START, the track for the most promising startups and 270 joined BETA, for the growth-stage track, while 1,080 joined ALPHA, the early-stage track. Most noticeable was that more than 1,300 of the world’s most influential tech investors from the world’s leading funds joined this year. There were 650 Mentor Hour sessions where you could find entrepreneurs and investors offering advice to startups. Only in the Web Summit 2016 could you find 677 world-class speakers, all within a couple of square kilometers of Lisbon, from Facebook’s and Amazon’s CTOs to Tinder founder Sean Rad to footballing greats Luis Figo and Ronaldinho.

Arguably, during this summit, the Tech in Fashion or wearable tech vibe overtook the heat generated by Fintech. The idea that Big Data, its conjoined value-added services and the analytics it generates plays a key and integral role in everything we do was well as it was reinforced in this summit.

I had an opportunity to attend a dinner for Portuguese President Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa. I explained to my host Ricardo Wallis of Buyinportugal.pt that the Philippines was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese. With this information, he took me to the Cerimónia da Pêra Rocha, organizada pela Associação Nacional de Produtores de Pêra Rocha (ANP) where he was the speaker and sole tech marketing arm designated to showcase Portuguese products all over the world with his B2B startup. We connected as he read about what I proposed: that the Philippine government showcase everything related to the Philippines using a similar platform. It’s an Amazon/Alibaba/Lazada/Craigslist version for Philippine goods, including skilled and semi-skilled workers and services, crafts or manufactured, retail, wholesale or dedicated production.

We know products are no good if they don’t get to be marketed. Ideally, the proposed marketing platform shouldn’t be privately spearheaded and owned, but government-funded, organically developed and maintained, to give equal footing to everyone who will upload and use the marketing platform. The analytics produced can help the government make informed decisions. What will all these small entrepreneurs do when they have been mentored, loaned money to, and bought equipment, but do not have the strength of a local and international marketing platform?

I was also able to connect to Romain Girbal, investor and builder of www.afrimalin.com for francophone Africa and www.senditoo.com. Indeed, the stars were aligning. Another notable who attended the summit was Gregory Kittelson of Zennya.com, KMC MAG Group and Kittelson&Carpo Consulting, veteran turnkey consulting firm heavyweight in perfecting set-ups for over 2000 BPOs and other foreign companies in the country. He was promoting the Philippines.

Mary Rose Magsaysay is a former energy undersecretary and a Harvard KSG alumni.

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