Web Summit: Jumper is the de rigueur uniform

Female delegates outdress male counterparts but are outnumbered, writes Joyce Fegan

From left: Joey Walshe, 13, and Lexi Schoene, 7, from Dublin, coding with Coder Dojo Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

ANOTHER day, another woolly jumper. “Paddy would never wear the same jumper two days in a row, especially at this,” a former Web Summit employee assured me, “I should know, I used to work for him.”

At day two of the tech event, its founder Paddy Cosgrave, is out once more in his uniform of humility — a pair of denims, his runners and another Aran sweater — one that looked remarkably similar to Tuesday’s jumper. On Tuesday he wore navy, yesterday he wore black.

For everyone else, the investors, ever-hopeful entrepreneurs and mega CEOs, their uniforms ranged from t-shirts under blazers, to novelty shirts and horizontally-peaked baseball caps.

It’s clear there’s no need to wear a shirt or tie if you want to do business with these guys or handful of girls.

The women on the other hand, the few female entrepreneurs that are here, they power dress in cutting-edge fashion with their monochrome jumpsuits, leather pencil skirts with thigh-high splits and towering Christian Louboutin heels.

Similar to the speed sometimes found in a Ryanair priority-boarding queue, these attendees have no waiting time to endure when needing to visit the bathroom, unlike the lines for the men’s facilities.

The females might not enjoy this luxury in Lisbon however.

“Today we launched a project where we’re giving away over 10,000 tickets to female entrepreneurs, we want to see more women at the summit,” its co-founder Daire Hickey told men his way backstage, as he agreed the event is “pretty male”.

“It is and I think that’s a reflection of the tech industry in general and that’s a really, really sad state and we’re doing our bit to change that by giving away the 10,000 tickets to female entrepreneurs. “We want to see more of those,” he added.

Daire, by the former female employee’s account, was “lovely to work for”. She said the summit was an incredibly busy place to work where employees would put in 60 and 70-hour weeks in pursuit of the best speakers — who do not receive a fee.

So where exactly is the money at this event? Around the perimeter of the centre stage lie hundreds of companies in their absolute infancy. They inhabit tiny floor spaces, displaying their virtual wares and services, eager to catch the eye of one of the wandering investors.

Everyone wears a badge, draped around their neck, each of them are emblazoned with a title. The eyes of passers-by glance swiftly downwards to check your ranking. You can be things like a partner, a speaker, an investor, a member of the media or an attendee.

Someone who forewent the badge yesterday was Sean Rad. He would have been mobbed if he’d made himself that identifiable.

The CEO of the world’s “hottest app” Tinder, according to Forbes magazine, took to centre stage at 4.05pm yesterday, about 20 minutes after the scheduled start time.

He came out in his novelty shirt, denims, canvas shoes and luxury timepiece.

According to Rad, who heads up the dating app that’s made online dating socially acceptable, he’s changing the world.

“Tinder is increasing the number of connections in this world at a scale no other platform has done before. We know we are changing the world,” he told an utterly thronged RDS yesterday.

There was no standing room, with hundreds of attendees sitting on the floor in the main hall, at his talk.

Today, however, it will be a case of another suitcase in another hall as Paddy packs up his jumper and summit for Portugal.

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