Web Summit brings together the people and companies redefining the global tech industry.
After an evening spent listening to inspirational Jaden Pinkett-Smith on his clean water initiatives JUST water and 501CTHREE.org, our lawyers were back at what The Guardian calls “Glastonbury for Geeks”. Some snippets from Day 2:
1. Founder of healthcare startup L-Nutra riffed on how to harvest and leverage user data to unlock secrets to longevity and analyze true “health intelligence” using AI;
2. Porsche’s sleek pavilion hosted Porsche Ventures’ ambitions to move beyond investing in sensor technologies and autonomous vehicles;
3. Canva’s founder Melanie Perkins, a college dropout at 19, inspired the crowd with her journey starting with bootstrapping from her mother’s living room to winning local innovation prizes and dealing with rejection in Silicon Valley as a non-US based pre-launch seed stage company. However 5 years post-launch Canva is now a 700 person company hosting 139 million designs creations per month and 20 million people monthly;
4. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, described key elements of the UK’s withdrawal agreement and the importance of how data would be treated as it crosses from the EU to the UK and the EU’s priority to be at the forefront of data privacy. On Brexit itself, Barnier pulled no punches saying “to date no one has demonstrated what added value Brexit brings”, as he spoke of the importance of the EU standing united to protect Ireland’s interests and the Good Friday Agreement to promote peace and security in the Irish isle. “Brexit is a school of patience, Brexit is a school of tenacity” he cautioned as he explained the agreement is just a framework and the hard work for Brexit actually lays ahead;
5. Vladimir Klitschko (12 year world reigning champion boxer and now venture capital investor) described how the death of his training coach drove him to find a lasting legacy to prove how boxing has wider lessons for startup founders - focus, agility and endurance, and like boxing needing to plan your roadmap and know your allies to reach goals;
6. Former Solicitor General of the United States Neal Katyal was in combative form with his views that Trump would not be on the 2020 ballot, confident of Trump’s impeachment and removal. Big Tech’s responsibility for veracity and truthfulness of content was debated as the 2020 US election looms ahead; and finally
7. We had a brief moment with the indefatigable President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, a lawyer by training and Microsoft’s longest serving President, and CEO Nadella’s chief lieutenant to spread Microsoft’s reach globally. Smith’s book “Tools and Weapons - The Promise and The Peril of the Digital Age” urges awareness of the double-edged nature of technology and how great responsibility lies with the tech giants in shaping our shared future. Given the critical role technology today influences public opinion, elections and social justice we could not agree more.