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Web Summit 2014 Final Day Review

Web Summit concluded today with Peter Thiel of Paypal and Facebook followed by U2’s Bono.

Lorraine Twohill, global VP of Marketing for Google discussed programmatic buying. Precision programmatic buying is a marketing goal for Google itself and Lorraine Twohill has set the goal that 60% of digital spend should be bought programmatically. Programmatic buying has some limitations and until these are lifted, Google can’t make its target easily. In her words: “Every marketer’s job is to tell stories” and that’s what she is trying to do both with online but also with offline Google ads.

Codacy, won the BETA startup pitch competition. Codacy has developed an automated code review tool. Using a “freemium” model, users can check code for security issues, accuracy, coding style and other metrics and lets the user get informed of his progress through rich visuals. Codacy has over 3,000 users.

In the ALPHA startup pitch competition BaseStone was the winner. ALPHA is intended for companies in an earlier stage than BETA. BaseStone is based in the UK and aims to streamline communication and speed up the design review process. Both startups have won 10,000 Euros and a pitch to Coca Cola global HQ in Atlanta from the competition.

Bitcoin made the news in both the centre and the builders stage. Gavin Andressen from the Bitcoin foundation discussed talked in the centre stage about how Bitcoin is going through centralized mining but this could be reversed in the future. Regulatory issues are still the main concern in his point of view as there are countries that over regulate like Russia and China which first ban something and then start thinking about if the ban was too harsh.
Peter Smith from Blockchain talked about blockchain and its journey to 2.5+ million users, over a thousand of which from the enterprise space in the past few years. He emphasised on Bitcoin’s utility for countries and continents that people don’t have access to banking and transfers are still prohibitively expensive. Describing bitcoin as “magical internet money”, Peter denied any word of work in progress to integrate with Google wallet of Apple pay at the moment.

Peter Thiel said yesterday that the Web Summit and its participants are not a representative of “slacker Europe”. This was in reference to a comment he made two months ago in Financial Times about Europe being “a slacker with low expectations, held back by a poor work ethic and held back by politicians who strangle technological progress.”.

Peter Thiel also discussed Artificial Intelligence and his belief that it is very far in the future. However, the challenge with Artificial Intelligence in his stance is not technological, but political. To reinforce this opinion he gave an example of the flying car that he gets pitched about by entrepreneurs around one to two times per year. A flying car can happen, but since “the world of bits is not regulated but the world of atoms is heavily regulated” it can be a big issue from the regulatory standpoint.

Bono was the last speaker for the day and the conference in general. He discussed about being “the most hated person on the Internet” for the three days after Apple released U2’s latest album for free on iTunes. Making a lot of people that were uninterested about U2 to hate U2 is still an improvement as he explained. Bono also explained how this album ended up for free in iTunes and how he made Tim Cook buy the album from U2 to release it for free on iTunes.

All in all, for an event that has gone from 400 people to a solid 20,000+ in four years this is a good ride. Most people head off to the pubs after the conference to celebrate its ending and start making plans for Web Summit 2015.

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