Tech geeks turned billionaires decode their net success

WITH every chance you could become a billionaire with the click of a button, technology has now become very cool.

The mega-rich of the tech world are not walking around in suits and silk scarves, they wear trainers, jeans and sports jackets. They are young, super-intelligent and were, as many will say, in the right place at the right time.

For the many Irish bloggers and technology geeks the last few days have been like a dream come true because some of the biggest names in the internet world have been hanging out in Dublin.

Billionaire Chad Hurley, one of the founders of YouTube, is here. Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter is around and so is Niklas Zennstrom, who set up Skype.

Over the last two days technology gurus tapped away on iPads and smartphones, listening to advice from their heroes who were all in Ireland to speak at the Dublin Web Summit. This wasn’t a place to show up to with a Nokia 3210 and a pen and paper.

Chad Hurley was the main speaker at the event on Thursday night. Hurley, along with Steve Chen, founded the video site YouTube in 2005 before selling it to Google a year later for €1.2 billion.

“Yea, I guess that felt pretty good,” said the long-haired Hurley when asked about the sale. “We hoped for more money but I’ll guess that’ll do,” he joked.

“Well, we were looking for advertising revenue and Google were looking to ramp up their video business so it was a good fit. Also, they were offering us $1.6bn,” he said.

Hurley was also quizzed on more technical aspects to the business to which he replied: “These are complicated issues, but I only have an arts degree.”

He said before they sold YouTube to Google the company was making a tiny amount of money from advertising and was being sued by record companies and movie studios for copyright infringement.

“We would love to have stayed independent but if we raised more capital we would just have increased the target on our back,” he said.

Sitting alongside Hurley on Thursday night was surprise guest Brent Hoberman, who founded lastminute.com, before selling it five years ago for €500,000.

There too was Irishman, Dylan Collins of Jolt Online Gaming, the developers of the hugely popular Facebook game, Farmville.

He spoke of when he set up his first company and was told text messaging would never take off and then was told online gaming wouldn’t really make much of an impact either.

“Gaming has now become mainstream, the nerds won,” he said.

He told the entrepreneurs not to be afraid to copy other ideas and do things better, he told them not to waste time trying to find something new and he advised them to go on long walks and think.

“Don’t be afraid too to play the Irish thing with investors. People still see Ireland as a mythical place and use that,” he said.

“Ireland is a huge hub for online gaming companies,” he said. “No one seems to know this and we should be shouting from the roof tops about this.”

Last night saw Jack Dorsey and Niklas Zennstrom take to the stage to be interviewed on their success stories.

Across the two days of the Dublin Web Summit the big speakers were joined by Irish web experts who held a series of summits yesterday.

The event was organised by young entrepreneur, Paddy Cosgrave.

This is the fourth Dublin Web Summit and about 300 people ranging from experts, investors, start-ups and students were in attendance over the two days.

At the summit five Irish start-ups also pitched for a chance to win the Spark of Genius award and a prize fund of €30,000.

To round off proceedings in the evenings, attendees went on a pub-crawl in Dublin to network, talk technology and drink Guinness.


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