This post is inspired by the insipid advert that Web Summit posts yearly, prior to their annual conference. Take a look at the ad below:
There are some good companies listed here. Hell, there are some awesome companies listed here. But there are two glaring issues that I can see immediately: where is the UK? And why is Stripe listed for Ireland?
In the UK there’s a huge startup scene. Largely funded by VC’s in the banking sector (offloading their liquid assets!), causing a genuine opportunity for startups to get the right amount of funding to get their ideas off the ground. There’s arguably more opportunity there than there is in Dublin right now. At least in a pre-Brexit context, anyway.
Obviously fintech is huge, but then you also have companies like Ujo, who are meshing blockchain technology with music to get a more transparent industry. You also have Mira, who are building solutions for people in healthcare recovery situations.
My point is that I’m not sure which growth hacker decided that the UK should be omitted from a map in an ad featuring almost every other country in Europe. Maybe the ad, which was run multiple times now over the course of the last year or two, was created by a sort-of precog growth hacker that knew about Brexit. Like a character from Minority Report that likes to set advertising budgets on Instagram.
Aside from the egregious omission of the UK from the European map, Ireland has been given an outrageous claim to Stripe.
For those unaware, Stripe is a payments processing startup based out of San Francisco, funded by a consortium lead by Peter Thiel (of Paypal Mafia fame). It started life in the famed startup incubator, Y Combinator, which is based in Silicon Valley. They have a bunch of offices worldwide (including a small Dublin operation, mainly working in customer service currently) but their HQ is in San Francisco (18th st. to be specific).
Their cofounders, Patrick & John Collison are Irish expats. They grew up in Limerick, but emigrated to go to university in the US; where they founded Stripe.
None of this story involves Ireland outside of a maternity ward somewhere. Stripe’s co-founders are a great source of pride for Irish entrepreneurs, but the company is decidedly not Irish.
And while that’s one issue, it’s not the biggest issue with Web Summit’s weird map. No, the biggest issue is that by choosing Stripe as the representative of Irish companies, they’re ignoring some serious heavy-hitters who have been born & bred in Ireland.
In Dublin alone, there are over 500 startups registered with some official body to identify them. Here’s some good ones worth considering as a representative of Ireland on the Web Summit advert:
- Beats Medical.
- Little Vista.
- Showtime Analytics.
- Sophia Search.
…and many, many more. Let’s be honest, a lot of these might be too niche or small to be promoted on an advert for Web Summit. But Intercom… fucking intercom is surely fit for purpose here? Intercom’s professional speech-delivery guru, Des Traynor, has even spoken at Web Summit!
I wouldn’t mind this lack of consideration put into an advert normally. After all, it is just an advert. But the fact that Web Summit is so highly visible, and has been a staple success story from Ireland in-and-of itself, it’s a shame that Paddy Cosgrave & his team never spotted that 1. Stripe isn’t Irish & 2. there are really good Irish companies worth putting on the map to represent what Irish companies are capable of.
And that’s ignoring the fact that apparently the UK sank into the ocean somewhere.