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coming home from the web summit early this year, watching the closing remarks and announcing the winners ceremony on the tv’s around the dublin airport. paddy looks great, relaxed as ever, as he announces the cto of coca-cola, who announces their programme of support for entrepreneurs.
the web summit and the founders conference are amazing achievements by paddy & the team. they started 4 years ago, bringing 500 tech entrepreneurs into dublin for a get-together. this year, they brought 20.000. in the years in between, they had the most amazing lineup of speakers and participants, like elon musk, bono and mark.
so far, nothing new, everyone knows this is happening. even some slovenian vc’s were noticed in the crowd this year. what struck me when i saw paddy on TV with the guy from coke was, that paddy has probably the most impressive rolodex on the planet. his personallity and his vision and lots of hard work have given him access not just to PA’s of most influential and smartest leaders in the world, but even more importantly, for these events to work, he had to invest time to really understand each of their motivations and goals and visions and activities.
i expect paddy to have better understanding of where the global business is going than the nsa.
let’s meditate about this for a second, and repeat the logic – in just four years, he got best of the best to speak on his stage and support his cause. he didn’t bribe them. he trully got them on his side, with charm and with facts. he knows these people and organizations they represent personally. that’s power.
and what does he do with this power?
he organizes a party.
let’s meditate on that – yes, a f**ing party. a 4-days long pub crawl on the streets of dublin. an excuse for 20k of most productive people on the planet to get away from their routines of changing the world and … get drunk!
a lot of good comes out of these parties of course:
- taxi drivers and airliners and hotelliers and pubs benefit directly. of course they also sponsor the event
- participants get some rest / action and recharge their batteries
- participants get their annual dose of brainwashing about changing the world and how awesome they are for it
- the speakers and the corporations feel good about connecting with the community and giving back to the community, without noticing that they were actually kept far away from the actual audience, in separate hotels and lounges
- the startups participating in competitions feel good about the hard work and energy they put into presenting themselves for one of the four days in one of the five startup halls with 500 startups each, and pitching those two vc associates that stopped by their 70cm of booth space.
obviously, this is a good thing. great thing even. getting 20k people on a remote island means you are doing something right for the planet. but i can’t help but ask myself, is there anything better that could be done with all that power?
every society needs connectors, people who facilitate connections between individual players, because of their unique abilities to make personal connections with various and diverse actors, accumulating social capital, and converting it into trust between the introduced parties.
one of the ways you can do this, is by throwing a party, and hope that the right people will connect by pure luck. completelly different approach is performing surgical strikes with direct introductions. in between these two is the third way – playing a good host – organizing the party, and intruducing the ones that showed up between eachother.
after this year, i feel that we only had the party, and absolutely nothing else good from paddy. i wish he would spend his time connecting the best startups with the right brand executives. the planet would be better off.