Paddy Cosgrave Young Entrepreneur and CO-Founder of Web Summit

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Paddy Cosgrave, an Irish entrepreneur is the co-founder of Web Summit, an annual technology conference, and CEO of the company that runs Web Summit and other events. In 2015 he was listed 18th in the Wired UK list of the most influential people in Europe in the field of technology.

Patrick “Paddy” Cosgrave grew up on a farm in County Wicklow. He was educated at Glenstal Abbey School and Trinity College Dublin, where he studied Business, Economics and Social Studies (BESS). While at Trinity he was president of the University Philosophical Society (The Phil) and editor of Piranha, a satirical college magazine. During his presidency of The Phil, the society introduced Phil Speaks, an outreach initiative aimed at promoting debating and public speaking in Irish secondary schools. Cosgrave graduated with a BA from Trinity College, Dublin’s BESS program in 2006.

Cosgrave was one of the organizers and the executive director of Rock the Vote Ireland, a campaign launched in April 2007 to encourage young people to vote in the May 2007 Irish general election. He was also a co-founder of Mi Candidate, a website that “provided detailed information on every candidate running in the 2007 general election”. Mi Candidate expanded its scope to become a syndicator of news and information about European politicians to media organizations. The company was sold for “an undisclosed sum” in October 2009.

Cosgrave is the co-founder of the Web Summit and Founders conferences, and the CEO of Ci, the company that runs the two conferences and other events. Founders is an invitation-only event first held in Dublin in October 2009. The first Dublin Web Summit in November 2010 was attended by approximately 400 people. The fourth annual Web Summit in November 2014 had an attendance of over 22,000, and 30,000 were expected to attend the event in Dublin in November 2015. Starting in 2016, the Web Summit was held in Lisbon, although Ci continued to be headquartered in Dublin. In 2014 Ci began introducing new events in the United States (Collision) and Hong Kong (RISE), with an event called SURGE planned for February 2016 in India.

Cosgrave was awarded the 2015 Irish Exporters Association annual gold medal. He was listed 18th in the 2015 Wired UK list of the “100 most influential individuals in the wider Wired world”.

The Irish Exporters Association (IEA), the voice of the export industry in Ireland, presented its highest honour the Gold Medal Award to Paddy Cosgrave, Ci in recognition of the exceptional impact that he has made to the indigenous technology sector here in Ireland through the Web Summit and his achievements worldwide with Ci events such as Collision and RISE, based in Las Vegas and Hong Kong respectively. The lunch event, in association with Barclays Bank Ireland is attended by 300 guests from across a range of sectors including representatives from over 35 Embassies in Ireland.

Paddy Cosgrave, Recipient of the Gold Medal Award commented: “I would like to thank the President and the members of the IEA for this award. I would like to accept it, not for myself, but for my team at Ci. We are still young start up, only five years old, and I am constantly surprised at how far we have come in such a short time. As a technology company, looking outward to overseas markets has always been an important part of our DNA. In 2015 we have looked to establish a solid presence in the US and Asian markets and with luck and planning we will expand into new territories in 2016. I am honored to accept this award.”

The Web Summit 2017 Lisbon called for new rules for powerful technology companies to end their monopolies as well as for the privacy and security of the end users. The tech companies like Google and Facebook seem like monopolies and need new rules. Need for new rules was similar to past technological shifts such as the invention of cars.

The event brought 60,000 attendees from over 160 countries together. In six short years, Web Summit has grown from 400 attendees to over 60,000 attendees from more than 150 countries. No technology conference has ever grown so large so fast. Web Summit has become Europe’s largest and most important technology marketplace.

Addressing the summit, the co-founder of Web Summit, Paddy Cosgrave joined growing calls for tighter regulation of big technology firms especially after news that Russia may have manipulated the last US election with political advertisements on Facebook. He said recent initiatives by European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager could bring big changes for big tech companies and help level the playing field in a sector which is having a profound impact on societies. Cosgrave said that new technology had been assumed by many to be just positive, but it often “can be incredibly disruptive”.

Web Summit is a global technology conference hosted annually in Lisbon. Web Summit took place in Lisbon from 6-9 November 2017. Web Summit started in 2010 and has become the largest technology event in the world. Last year over 60,000 people attended the event from over 160 countries, including over 20,000 companies, 1,300 investors and 2,200 international journalists. Speakers include the founders and CEOs of the world’s largest tech companies as well as political leaders and major sports, fashion and music personalities. In less than 6 years the Web Summit has grown from a small team of 3 people to a full-time team of over 150. Founders, an annual private gathering of 200 CEOs of the world’s leading technology companies which happens alongside Web Summit, has been described by Bloomberg as “Davos for Geeks”. Paddy graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 2006 with a BA, MA in Political Science and Economics. He worked in a number of start-ups before setting up Web Summit and founders in 2010 with Daire Hickey and David Kelly. Paddy has been listed in WIRED Magazine’s 100 most important people in tech.

Contributed by Mélange Team