Despite the whirlwind of anticipation and occasional controversy leading up to the event, thispast November the Web Summit 2023 enters a new chapter under the fresh leadership of CEO Katherine Maher. While the departure of co-founder Paddy Cosgrave did bring about a shift, it didn't dampen the spirits of 900 investors, 2,600 pioneering startups, and over 70,000 participants, including 4 of our Sparks, to venture to Lisbon, Portugal, for one of Europe’s most prominent technology conferences.
From the vibrant entrepreneurial energy echoing through the corridors to the lively discussions in roundtables and interactive sessions, Web Summit 2023 emerged as a celebration of innovation, resilience, and the limitless possibilities that lie ahead in tech.
Below, explore our team's top insights, trends, and their favorite sessions.
AI BEYOND THE TOOL
AI was definitely the hot topic at the Web Summit this year, with discussions transcending beyond the technical capabilities to its many implications in society. There were a lot of discussions and conversations about ethics considerations, regulatory frameworks, and the governance of AI, sparking a rich dialogue on its role in the future of work. The consensus? AI is set to enhance our productivity while amplifying the value of human creativity and ingenuity in the future.
WEB SUMMIT STANDS FOR DIVERSITY IN TECH
The event stood out as a paragon of inclusivity, with women making a formidable presence not just in attendance but also in the spotlight—commanding stages, captivating pitches, and leading groundbreaking startups. Women made up 43% of attendees and 38% of speakers, and nearly a third of showcased startups were founded by women. The Summit truly embraced diversity, enriching the tech dialogue with a spectrum of voices from across the globe.
INDUSTRIES BEING HEAVILY IMPACTED BY AI
The conference provided profound insights into the transformative effects of AI, particularly in the following key sectors:
- Education Evolved: Shinning a light on how AI is redefining education through innovative tools that promote learning, collaboration, and critical thinking – essential skills for the digital age.
- Health & Wellness Reimagined: AI's role in accelerating research and enabling personalized healthcare through awareness, access, and affordability was a key focus, ushering in a new era of predictive, preventative, and personalized medicine.
- Sustainability & AI Synergy: The dual-edged sword of AI's environmental impact was a topic of discussion, balancing concerns of the increase in emission production with the expansion of AI, with a hopeful vision of AI as a formidable ally in the fight against climate change.
OUR TOP SESSIONS
1. FOUL PLAY: TACKLING ONLINE HATE
Roberto Carlos, Former Professional Footballer Brazil | Gilberto Silva, World Cup Winner Brazil | Tim Chase, Founder & CEO Striver | Joana Quintas, Sport Reporter Canal 11
This session tackled the pervasive issue of online abuse head-on, with the Striver app's innovative approach to creating safer online spaces, demonstrating proactive solutions to social media's most pressing challenges.
2. AI WEARABLES: THE FUTURE OF MULTILINGUAL COMMUNICATION
Vasco Pedro, Co-founder & CEO, Unbabel
This session illuminated AI's potential to enhance lives, envisioning a future where technology seamlessly integrates with humanity through compassion and ingenuity. It spotlighted the transformative project Unbabel, led by Vasco Pedro, Co-founder & CE, showcasing the future of multilingual communication via AI wearables. The discussion dove into the revolutionary approach for ALS patients, enabling non-verbal communication through wearable tech that predicts and interprets micro-muscle interaction through users' voices based on analyzing their past WhatsApp messages.
3. THE NEW SCIENCE OF MEASURING PERSUASION
James Slezak, Founder & CEO, Swayable
Slezak challenged the conventional wisdom that measures engagements as an indicator of success, highlighting that an engaging post may not necessarily change minds. Through a comparison of two iPhone ads, he demonstrated that the ad with lower media spend and engagements (Steady Cam) was more persuasive than its counterpart (The Dance).
While the session had elements of a Swayable sales pitch, the examples and case studies presented were compelling and directly relevant to our focus on performance reporting and delivering value to clients. Swayable, with a founder from the NY Times, showcased impressive results in driving subscriptions through their strategic social and digital efforts.
Web Summit 2023 wasn't just a flashy tech event; it was a journey through the changing world of AI, a celebration of different people, and a deep look into how AI affects education, healthcare, and the environment. We look forward to the event next year as we'll see how the things we discussed this year become real and lead to new and exciting ideas.