Didier FRANC


Pilgrimages of the tech world

Wikipedia define pilgrimage as “a journey or search of moral” with its “shrine”.

While aboard another flight, leaving Lisbon and the latest edition of the WebSummit, I would like to tell you some things about the magic happening behind whatever screen you’re reading this. There is an entire world there, moving from a country to another every day.

Where is the person working in the digital industry when he is away from the keyboard ? not too far away from it, obviously, and you’ll probably find him in that kind of places. Maybe you will read WebSummit is good or bad in some articles. They’re both probably right. If you want to know if it could be good for you, read until the end.

Stephen Hawking opening the celebration at WebSummit, 2017

The crème de la crème

If you have some plans to travel, this is my shortlist, a non exhaustive list of the best meetings all over the world. You can think of these events as planets with a lot of satellites gravitating around them, an event is only the tip of the iceberg.

SXSW if you work in the content industry you can’t avoid it. Some of the best independent artists are coming there to make legendary concerts.

CES for goods, with its controversial booth babe, and because it’s the first big thing that ever appeared in the field. Alive since 1967, a millenium at the scale of digital era. 
Since 2010 there has been a new kid in town, the WebSummit. It has disrupted and disturbed the established conferences like a whirlwind. Only a few years after the first edition it is already worldwide with Collision, Rise, Surge. Each event is a ton of conferences in one, but also more than 2000 of the best startups exposing.

We are waiting for the next Paddy Cosgrave who will revolutionarize this again. It will come sooner than you expect, because this world needs a revolution per day.

Paddy Cosgrave


Coding is the ability to talk to machines. Nowadays it’s probably more profitable to learn one of the thousands machine language than human one. We call ourselves programmers, coders, developers …

and there is even more conferences for us. I often hear that we were the rock stars of this decade … Some of us have been on tour for several years.

Some of the best developers events you can’t miss : AgentConf, Smashing Conf and DEF CON of course. Google, Apple, Amazon and Github events are unmissable too, because they shape the future of what we will be able to do.

Startup culture

Silicon Valley, TV show

As you can see there are conferences almost every day around the world. And you thought geeks never left theirs caves, or their sect ? This cliché is one of the reasons many events and meetups are organised. We fear we would look like the caricature if we didn’t do these kind of efforts.

Pitch, disrupt, pivot, unicorn, you know everything.

Belief is the center of everything coming in this industry. And there is often no solid base behind it. Only energy and inspirational talks.

A memorable talk from Gary Vaynerchuk, last year at WebSummit


The first networking place in the world ? Bloombergs as defined it as « Davos for geeks » and Forbes as « The best tech conference on the planet ». Not enough for you ? Take a look at the stats.

  • 60 000 people sharing a lot in common
  • 2,600 of the world’s leading media
  • 1,400 of the world’s most influential tech investors
  • 1,200 world-class speakers


Nights are important, for networking of course, but not only. In that world, people work almost every hour they are awake and they need as much time as possible to chill out. And why not signing millions dollars contract in a paper towel in one of the famous bars of Dublin. Do you know Uber ?

Money money money

Observador released the government estimated economic impact of this year WebSummit : 300 M$ to Portugal and more than half a billion since the last year edition. It’s huge for an event of only three days-duration.

It is impossible to value how much money represent people coming to a conference like WebSummit represent. There is a lot of CEOs from the largest companies of the tech industry. Hundreds of investors, business angels and venture capital. For sure billions of dollars are walking in the aisle. You don’t believe me, do you ?

Just an exemple to show you should trust me on this. I had the chance to discuss with representatives of Kazakhtelecom, the largest telecom operator in Kazakhstan, and guess what ? they were here in Lisbon, with Kazakstan government with an envelop of 1 billion of dollars to invest in tech. 🤑

Trending topics


If last year was the year of AR this year is definitely about AI, just one letter has changed, easy. Waymo presented its automated car, as did Uber with UberAir automated flying cars. Amazon presented some promising tools like Lex the engine behind Alexa available to anyone with an AWS account.

Stephen Hawking opened the ceremony with some advice at the age of artificial intelligence.



Last years Bitcoin and blockchain was trending. This year was definitely a new step. Today Bitcoin is adopted by general public. At the same time, Ethereum facilitated the development of new application on top of the blockchain.


The dream of decentralized internet seems to be closer to reality every day.


One year ago today, Trump was elected. It was during the previous edition of the WebSummit. And one of the most interesting talks about the election came from Tinder with some crazy numbers.

It’s clear that lobbying changed side. Digital revolution exposes huge (de)regulation problems and tech actors have lobbied around politics for years to open some closed market. A new era is coming, politics rushing to these events to attract best specialists and ideas to their country with a lot of advantages like attractive taxes, places to work …

Paddy Cosgrave and Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

The pilgrims

To put it simply, more suits, less nerds t-shirts. A few years ago, most of the exposants were young geeks and now there are more casual people. The exposants seem more professional, dreamers and eccentrics are harder to find today.

One of the explanations of this phenomena is the explosion of fin-tech and cryptocurrencies, “The Street” of the 21st century ?

Another notable evolution, for the better, more women were present. Thanks to a hard work from the organisation to bring more women to the tech events, they were greatly represented as well on stage (35.4%) and on the audience (42%).

Rosario Dawson and Sara Sampaio

Meet us

If you’re attending some events we could meet us, or if you just want to exchange about your nomad experience, ping me on twitter.

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