How The Web Summit Was Lost




Top: Paddy Cosgrave and Enda Kenny launching last year’s Web Summit

Read them and weep.

The culmination of soul-crushing, drawn out correspondence between Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave and people in the the Taoiseach’s office which eventually led to the Web Summit leaving Dublin for Lisbon.

Full correspondence here


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111 thoughts on “How The Web Summit Was Lost

  1. Spaghetti Hoop

    Funny to see Cosgrave’s email address redacted given that everyone has been spammed by him!

  2. Mr. Camomile T

    They’re great at playing the blame game, these Web Summit lads. Can I ask why the Convention Centre was never used as a venue for the Web Summit? Was it not purpose-built for such an event? It’s situated right next to the Luas line (which ferries thousands back and forth from the Point) and there’s also a commuter rail station 5 minutes walk to the north of the convention centre, or another one just across the river in Google Docks. Surely the convention centre could provide ample Wifi, is more central to Dublin, and is far more accessible than the RDS. Was this option ever explored? Too expensive to hire I imagine. Eating into the prophet’s profits.

      1. buzz o neill

        Because they spill over in to the simmonscourt area also as well as the main reds exhibition space.

    1. Dog Gone. IT

      Paddy might well be a complete gobspoo but he’s our gobspoo

      You can see why he would be frustrated in fairness, this was a good event for PR for Dublin

  3. eventguy

    As someone who works with large (really large) events internationally, I know that Wi-Fi is a perennial headache for visitors. Events that require reliable, high-speed network access usually hire specialist companies to provide it for the duration. Mr. Cosgrove could have done the same.

      1. ahyeah

        But what does ‘resistant’ mean, Eamon? They weren’t so keen on the idea or they said no outright. I heard they gave assurance they could provide it for cheaper, and would have charged a slightly higher fee if an outside wifi provider was used.

      2. diarmuid

        Sunday Business Post reports that web summit are in charge of wifi this year and that they had that option last year.

      3. CF

        @EamonLeonard, I’ve worked with the RDS guys and they weren’t resistant to Web Summit bringing in their own WiFi, they actually encouraged them to. The Web Summit just didn’t bother and decided it’d be easier to point the finger instead.

  4. george

    He wanted a plan from the Taoiseach’s office to deal with wifi and hotels for his private event with very high ticket prices?

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      For an international event that generated over €100 million for the local economy in one week? Yes. Why do you ask?

          1. Jonotti

            No I just despise this Cosgrave chap and his spoofery.
            Hey Enda sort out hotel prices (!?) or I’ll pull my confermence and blame it on you.
            He did the same with the RDS on the stage.

      1. george

        It’s nothing to do with the office of the Taoiseach. Between this and Garth Brooks you’d swear it was an event management job. It’s a private business, so are the hotels and the RDS is privately owned. The Taoiseach is not directly involved with traffic management or the day to day running of public transport either nor should he be.

        1. Jonotti

          What is his issue with traffic and public transport? Leinster matches are fine with similar numbers.

          1. curmudgeon

            Eh the attendees aren’t exactly local, and this event is not Sunday game that’s on for 80 mins. I’m no fan of paddy nor the current government. But for 100 million quid in one week why the fupp don’t dcc set up a committee to liase with web summit organisers. It worked for “the gathering”, which was a massive success except this thing is annual.

  5. Colin

    Nonsense and publicty seeking.

    Transport is not for the goverment to sort out, similar numbers hit Electric Picnic et al every year, in greater numbers in a more focused time period and there are rarely issues. Look at the Ploughing Championships as an example. A small bit of traffic planning and Garda consultation goes a long way. Having worked with and experienced the process, they are actually very accommodating if you are willing to pay for it (Which going from the feedback from those employed by Paddy, payment is last on the agenda) As for frequency, UCD operate a shuttle during the exams. Not the same numbers but again, an easy to lay on service if you have the inclination. Furthermore, lather the sides of the buses for some decent advertising revenue and cost saving on them.

    Hotels, ditto. Black Hat and all the other conferences have high hotel costs associated with them. Same with festivals next or near industrial centers. We’re a renownly expensive country to stay in. Wrongly, given the standard, but its a wider problem not related to the government. Cut some deals with the hoteliers and perhaps a shuttle bus to outlying hotels. You’d swear Dublin was the size of Los Angeles and impossible to commute through.

    Wifi, the N11 has a massive fibre trunk running down the middle of it, which I’m fairly sure splits and goes in the Croke Park direction. You have LOS to Three Rock and other large touch points. If you want Wifi, pay for it and stick it on the already very expensive tickets. Its a much wider and technical challenge to provide Wifi / networking to that number of people simultaneously, its going to be expensive and is not an issue I would readily expect the RDS to address. You can’t just smack in a few routers and hope for the best. You’d need professions and substantial planning.

    I love this event but just leave already. We get it…

    1. Joachim Gillespie

      Electric Picnic and The Ploughing Championship aren’t held in city centre Dublin. The traffic problem is caused by Web Summit been held in the RDS.

    2. Seriously sam

      Well said. Cosgrave is missing the point that to earn his millions for his conf he has to actually organise it, and work through any logistics, funny that.

  6. je suis charlie

    Never has a story been dragged out for so long! They’re just looking for publicity … Again! and of course RTE and the print media (and browdsheet) are running with it. Obviously ticket sales not going as well as expected. So let’s just release some private correspondence and hit the headlines again.

  7. Declan

    Free enterprise taking Government handouts and help – well I never – and then been shocked when the Government doesn’t grovel and do everything the want – it’s not like those bureacrats have better things to do!!!

  8. bingo

    I hate when people start correspondence with just a name. Very condescending and passive-aggressive.

    1. bango


      You’re reading too much into it. You’re reading tone into what is nothing but simple text, which serves only make it clear whom is being addressed.

      Oh, bingo.


  9. Paudi O'Shea

    From his blog post it looks like he’s trying to get the first dig in before the Government releases FOIs on all the correspondence. Seems like everyone is happy to facilitate him in that!

  10. Jason Hassett

    This article is a little misleading to be honest, it shows Paddy sending a mail on the 21st and then a reply on the 23rd which looks as though the Taoiseach’s office haven’t explained themselves, by not showing the full correspondence, which includes John Callinan responding with reasons the next day (22nd September). Not to take sides, but I feel this is a little biased here in favour of Paddy. Definitely read the full, oddly web summit branded, correspondence as it is a lot clearer.

  11. sendog

    Is anyone surprised with the dirt of nonsense we find out about the way this country is run?

    The closet morons in the public service with the I’m alright jack attitude.

    It was easy enough for Edna to add his voice to the Gareth brooks nonsense cause the boggers where up in arms.

    but when it comes to stuff like da tinternet and something they don’t gain politically from the silence is deafening!

    1. Jonotti

      Would you like the government to intervene in the private hotel market? Maybe put in price controls or maybe setup state controlled hotels.

      1. sendog

        Not really no.

        The main point from the correspondence was that the powers that be failed to even meet the organisers.

        This event is a huge loss.

        tax reasons or not the major tech players are here. We should be moving towards patent boxes and encouraging innovation here. This event could have helped greatly.

        But there is no votes in long term thinking.

        see the budget for how far ahead our dear leaders look.

  12. sendog

    Whether you like or dislike Cosgrove is a mute point.

    This event put us on the map.

    These emails suggest Edna and Co. where too short sighted to give a toss.

  13. _d_a_n_

    This is ridiculous. He keeps saying he’s not looking for a penny in the emails, just Garda to manage traffic, increased public transport, signage, help with hotels (does he want the state to step in and prohibit hotels from setting their own prices? Does he want the state to subsidise the rooms?) and WIFI. The Web Summit seems to be under the impression that all these things are free.

    The self importance is nauseating.

    People who organise large events deal with Grada regularly to sort traffic problems, any festival throughout the summer handles this themselves without emailing the office of the taoiseach. You can hire private shuttle busses also, you can afford it.

    If you think the hotels are too expensive then try to strike a deal with them. Yisser always going on about how many deals get done at your shin dig, do your own.

    And the WIFI, emailing the taoiseach to sort out your WIFI? It’s laughable.

    The most annoying thing though, the complete lack of self awareness. A conference that champions entrepreneurship, free enterprise and small independent business complaining when the state won’t jump in to solve problems they are having with their own stakeholders. If this is the way you do business, good riddance. Go and wreck heads in Portugal. They’ve become so self important they sit back and scoff, wondering why everything isn’t being handed to them, instead of fixing problems that they have created.

    This situation has been created by their own lack of creativity, ingenuity and their sense of entitlement. I increasingly believe that the organisers got lucky, hitting the zeitgeist for bullcrap founder/starter culture nonsense and riding the wave.

    The state, and by that I mean the administration and the people, owe them nothing. There’s more important issues happening in this country than a summit for the richest people in the world to come, sell snake oil and hope, and get pissed for a few days. Talkche, enjoy Lisbon.

    1. Duffo

      Well said _d_a_n_!!
      Totally agree with everything you say.
      Releasing the correspondence is pathetic. His biggest PR disaster was announcing the move before this year’s event, I would imagine it will lend a lot of bad will towards it now.

    2. person who read all the files

      @_d_a_n_ I think you’ll find, if you read through ALL the correspondence, that other European cities, such as Lisbon and Amsterdam, offered comprehensive solutions with traffic plans, hotel / accommodation plans,decent WiFi etc. Not only that, but Mayors, City managers, and much higher ranking government officials from these countries repeatedly communicated and met with WS.

      These countries & cities understand the importance of this kind of event & it’s impact on a city & that in this day and age, it is important for city & country management to work with the event organizers and growing tech giants.

      An event such as this one, which this year involves 30,000 people and will be even bigger next year, needs such an approach.

      To me, the biggest issue here is the attitudes of gov’t and civic officials; because he is not in the paper envelope golf nattering circles, or bead jiggling loud minorities, they don’t want to know.

      You may think that rubbing the governments nose in the fact that foreign govt ( esp. UK) have been using websummit to do business is a bit cheeky, but I think he’s right to point this out to them – has no-one else read through this bit?

      Our dignitaries have just turned up for photo’s!

      They need to wake up to the 21st Century & to the fact that the loss of WS is only a warning arrow – these countries are working very hard to have a place at the table in the 21st Century – if they are capable of coming up with a combined traffic / accomodation / organization plan for WS, then what plans are they crafting to lure away our tech-giants ?

    1. Dog Gone. IT

      their emails reveal an uncanny naivete for business

      no wonder their crappy startups failed and were put into an overcrowded room


    1. _d_a_n_

      He had no right to ask for assistance in problems he created. If he doesn’t have the ingenuity to solve scaling problems without leaning on the state, and in turn the exchequer, and in turn you and me, it’s a good thing that it’s gone. It has nothing to do with brown envelopes.

  14. Jon

    Call me old fashioned, but if you bill yourself as the organiser of an event (which is making you plenty of money), you ought to do the organising of it yourself, yes?

      1. Neilo

        Man, I could really go for an Old Fashioned right about now *checks watch* Seven hours MINIMUM ’til I get balls-deep in the cocktail cabinet. It’s a thundering disgrace, so it is.

  15. Daithi

    it does seem strange that they are asking for the Government to come up with a traffic management plan. Every other event has to submit a traffic plan/event plan to the various government bodies to be allowed to run go ahead with the event. And every large event brings in revenue for Dublin. But the onus is on the private company running the event to plan it properly. Themelves

    It sound’s like the success of it went to their heads.

  16. Frilly Keane

    I think I might have said this before

    This Paddy lad
    Should have stepped aside and hired a professional to run Web Summit inc

    This is all sh1t he should be sorting out
    Not Ends effin Kenny

  17. alex lyons

    Government departments have to write back so he gets a nice letter to garner sympathy

    Surely writing to Department of Tourism or Bord Failte would have been far more direct at least if not more productive?

    Also, what exactly does he want the government to do about Hotels and Wifi?

  18. java

    He doesn’t want much does he? Sample from appendix:

    1. Access to Garda Escort services for specific VIPs at specified times during the
    event. Estimated 10 such VIPs during the event. Movement, not security.

  19. Jim Jim

    The papers should get in touch with some of the “interns” that worked at the events if they want the real story. I’ve only heard bad things from the few I know that got suckered into volunteering to make this guy money.

    1. Bob Bob

      Typical Irish begrudger.

      “The papers”. Lol. I wonder will “the papers” still be around in 5 years? In-fighting over redundancy entitlements is what they’ll be pre-occupied with while others are free-wheeling in a mild climate reminiscing on the great ride they had back in the good old days. Of course “the papers” don’t use “interns”… At least you might make a few quid, meet high quality people, get the adrenaline pumping and maybe (just maybe) you might even enjoy yourself interning for the Web Summit. Then again, DCU journo master’s graduates are above all that and would prefer to work for free on Tara Street (for at least 5 years) before having the chance at a weekly freelance (i.e. unemployed) column on the women of 1916 (or some other such sh*te).

      And what (if anything) remarkable have you done with your life?

      Maybe he is ahead of his time. Maybe he was brave to stick it to the New Ireland plámás brigade and let them know that:
      – maybe you’re not as great as you think you are
      – maybe others don’t think the New Irish are as great as you think you are
      – maybe all that good-will, likeableness and good-will (and a peppering of guilt) that your parents benefited from has come to a shuddering end?
      – maybe the New Irish aren’t quite so get-up-and-go any more?
      – maybe others are sick of hearing about how great the Irish are (i.e. were)
      – maybe the highest quality Irish people are those who had the good sense to get out, keep their heads down and not talk about Ireland?
      – maybe New Ireland isn’t quite working out as planned?

      He’s always been ahead of his time and sees the bigger picture. You’re enraged that a young (ish) self-made man might start small, make a few quid, achieve financial independence and be happy. How dare he.

      1. Buzz

        What the fupp are you on? What’s so heroic about whinging because Enda Kenny won’t help organise your birthday party. Begrudgers my bottom. Grow up.

      2. Buzz

        Ahead of his time, that’s hilarious. People who want to delegate responsibility, and cost, have always been with us. A timeless quality if ever there was one.

  20. Ultravox

    Won’t the great Damien Mulley’s webbie/bloggie awards thing fill the gap? Surely it’s a world-class event that 30K people the world over would flock to.

  21. Sham Bob

    I guess you’d have to partially excuse Paddy Cosgrave his whinge because of Enda using the stage of the Web Summit to boost his own profile/look like less of a gobdaw. Also, you could imagine Enda grabbing Paddy’s elbow and saying,’whatever you want, Paddy, all you have to do is ask’, without having a notion of following through.

  22. Manta Rae

    Four times in the first par the number four is written numerically. Four times!. Is this a hipster thing?

      1. Buzz

        He’s no wordsmith, that’s for sure. ‘I do hope’. I’m sure you do, Paddy. Would you like fries with your wiffy?

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