Web Summit is Europe’s largest festival of ideas and has been called “Davos for geeks.” Founded in 2010, this year’s Web Summit, which runs from Tuesday until Thursday this week in Ireland, is hosting more than 20,000 attendees and guests.

Also today I run my “Web Summit marathon” through all the speech I’m interested in from my office desk in Netherlands thanks to the Live Stream (a very peculiar web summit experience which will deserve it’s on blog at the end of the summit) which shows the Centre Stage. At least I’m saved from the stress of having to choose which talks to pick.

Day 2 was very much about the following:

  • Focus on the customer and how can you create value for him
  • Quality of content and data mining potentialities
  • Companies mission and purpose, contribution to better cause, using technology to empower living in a better word
  • Quality of company culture, value of hiring the right people, and leading them with clarity
  • Failing, making mistakes and learning from them

Further, Wow Now summary of key talks from Dublin Web Summit 2014 Day 2 Centre Stage.


Wow Now Blog Quote (2)
Adam Bain from Twitter In Conversation with Richard Eyre (Interactive Advertising Bureau)

Adam came to Twitter has President of Global Revenue so Richard first question is quite brilliantly about whether he still agrees with pre-IPO quote from Dick Costolo “we think of revenue not as destination but as oxygen that feeds the model”.

Also for Adam “revenue is like oxygen. It’s necessary for life but is not the reason to live.  Writers that only write about revenue are hyperventilating.”

Everything Twitter does is supportive of this believe which seemed especially proved from the fact that ads payments are not only based on clicks, but also on engagement so that advertiser are incentivized on provide great content. There is an incentive for advertiser to be good and not just loud.

With 5ml daily tweets there is a massive amount of data for businesses that can be used in many ways.

Adam also spoke about some of the key potentialities of Twitter data:

  • IBM announced they are going bring Twitter data into their enterprise tools and consultancy training every consultant on how to use that data.
  • There is also opportunity for companies to understand what type of emotions trigger purchase at every given moment. Twitter is a live platform for everything that is going on in the moment with huge opportunity for live commerce.
  • other examples of business uses: hedge funds are guiding trading based on Twitter sentiment analysis, and health companies are seeing if they can track disease spread across borders.

Given my passion for excellent customer service and proactively fulfilling needs customers aren’t even aware they have, I especially liked the story he told about a company that sells industrial fryers for 50.000 euro each wanted to license Twitter’s data. They wanted to monitor tweets about “soggy fries” because when there are soggy fries, it may mean that a specific piece into the industrial fryer needs to be changed so they can proactively reach out to the restaurant where the consumers tweeting about “soggy fries” have eaten. That is what I would call a WOWnow experience for the restaurants: being called up by a supplier with a solution to a problem they don’t even know they have yet, but that is impacting the quality of the fries they provide!

The ways to use Twitter data are just unlimited.

Tony Fadell (Nest) in Conversation with Laurie Segall (CNN)

Few things I really liked about this conversation:

  • Tony humble and sharp business acumen visible in the fact that during conversation with Larry Page about purchasing Nest he asked him: “I understand what you can bring to us, but what can we bring to you?”
  • Recognition of the value of partnership. At Web Summit they made the big announcement: of partnership with Electric Ireland offering free thermostat & free support. An event that Nest thinks is going to change the word as it’s comparable to how mobile phones and smartphones growth started
  • His focus on customers and on positive challenging tensions with co-workers: Start-ups need a dynamic tension in a positive way for a better outcome for the customers. Start-up where management argues about title and who does what will not succeed. They need to think about the customers not themselves. Details that seems like maniacal but are very important for the customer
  • And finally, Laurie Segall super challenging question “Since Google current mission statement is outdated as is just about information, what do you think should be Google new mission statement”. I loved to see the authenticity with which Tony replied “Wow you really gonna put me on the spot with that? Hey! “ and then went on to say that Google next mission statement should be about positive societal impact and how to accelerate change to remove some of the problems in transparency and environmental impact.

The Social Network  – Conversation with Clara Shih  (from Hearsay) and Darian Shirazi (from Radius)

Two main examples of using data to provide customers a more targeted sales experience:

  • Radius collects all the social media available and analyzes to make companies be highly predictable. “Amex has been able to segment their US population to identify which customers are more likely to buy a new card so that they were more effective to target only a selected number of consumers versus all with more targeted proposition. “
  • Hearsay helps B2B sales people connect with customer prospect on social media. “If you look at financial services sales they are still relying on Lyons club or cold calling. This is an archaic way. With Hearsay tools we are able to help select which customer to touch with a much better message at a much better moment.”

Dan Rose (Facebook) in Conversation with Robin Wauters (Tech.eu)

This talk was probably less brilliant than it could have been and somewhat difficult to follow, due the lengthy intro and questions Robin was posing, rather than just letting Dan Rose talk after short and challenging questions like in other conversations.

Also in this conversation the importance of partnership and value exchange was highlighted, triggered by a question Dan received when presenting his proposal shortly after joining Facebook: “that’s great but how does that work for Microsoft?”

Only other point that stayed with me is the fact that Facebook recently launched a new product for celebrities called “Mentions feed”. This shows them all the times that someone has mentioned them and they can choose to reply and engage in conversations with the fan who wrote their post.

I initially thought that a similar product could be interesting for Brands too, so that also companies can engage with customers talking about them, but on afterthoughts I was left wondering about privacy and whether I would really want a company or a celebrity to always see in their feed when I mention them. If I wanted them to see, I would just post it on their page, not on my wall.

How Data was used to win the Presidential Election  – Dan Siroker, Optimizely

Dan introduces Optimizely as the lead web site optimization platform and focuses his talk on sharing 3 key lessons learned:

  • you have an opportunity to transform your business
  • you’ll have challenge along the way to change ingrained habits
  • the catalyst for innovation is optimization

optimizely ab testing
Dan tells the story of meeting Obama while when he was working at Google and how his speech inspired him and motivated him so much that he left Google after two weeks to go to Washington. From Obama speech: “Facts, feedback, science and everything that allows you to do what you do should be used in governments. I want you to help me take technology into government to make policy founded on facts and researches.”

He also tells the story of the AB testing done during the Presidential Election letting the room do a live AB testing.


When describing the biggest challenges that will be encountered along the way, Dan introduces a concept I often have seen mentioned by Optimizely: the HIPPO, HIghest Paid Person Opinion. He explains how one of the best ways to fight the HIPPO is to come into a meeting with data, the best weapon to use against the HIPPO.

I agree so much with this point, that my brain elaborates into its own quote:


Re-inventing in an Age of Constant Disruption: Jonathan Klein (Getty Images) in conversation with Brian Morrissey

Images are the language most spoken in the word. Pinterest is the fastest growing site in the word. We have gone from peripheral from center of the conversation.

Culture is the most important item in companies. Companies that have been able to grow are the one that have capability to change and are open minded to mistakes. We are allowed to fail. Our culture allows experimentation. Whenever you make a decision you exercise a judgment and when you do that you surely make mistakes. And that’s fine as long as you exercised your judgment and learn from it.

Gilt Edged: Michelle Peluso (Gilt CEO) in conversation with Seema Mody

This was a talk I almost skipped and instead was rather inspirational above all as a woman trying to balance my new consultancy business and family.

I was very pleased to hear that Michelle sits every week with a different team to understand how she can support them & which barriers to remove. WOW that is an inspiring CEO, something that every CEO should do, starting from sitting regularly with their customer service team

Michelle is also a mum of 2 kids. She keeps it very structured. Brings kids to school early every morning and leaves office at 5 to be home for dinner and then goes back online in the evening

She advises: “make sure that the time you are spending is on the things that matter the most. “ And gives her practical advice on how to do so: “Every month I check my calendar to ensure that I’m spending my time on the things that really matter the most“

Finally she highlights the importance of role model in the company you work for: ”if you look up and you see woman in your company that are doing a great job and balancing with life and family, then you know you are in the right company with the right culture. “

The Key Habit of Highly Effective Companies – Justin Rosenstein (Asana)

This was my favorite speech for the day. So much so that it deserves a full blog post about it. So here is the super condensed version of it.

Justin started by saying that “each of us here has a vision of the effect we want to have on the word using technology. For this vision to become reality we need highly effective teams”

The conclusion he came to is that the primary factor for success is clarity.

Clarity of:

  • Purpose (why)
  • Plan (how)
  • Responsibility (who)

Culture – Dave Goldberg (Survey Monkey)

Building a highly profitable company is one thing but building a company that is not only successful but values it’s biggest assets, it’s workforce, comes down to creating the right culture. David Goldberg will share his personal learnings.

Most people thing of culture in Silicon valley as free food and nice offices, games. These are nice perks but they are not culture. Culture is not about “let’s have an happy place to work” but it’s about creating shared value and living them every day.

The key things that worked for Survey Monkey are:

  • You gotta hire the right people because that’s where everything starts
  • You have to build the right team with a balance of skills and talents
  • No a-holes rule. Sometimes you have someone that is really good at what they do but they are a jerk and very difficult to work with. If you allow them to be there, they will corrode your cultures.

So after listening to more than 10 talks, typing more than 6000 words, tweeting 30 tweets, gaining additional 20 followers and a WebSummit Chat message from a very promising company for my consultancy area, I finally head off to bed…wiser and inspired but most of all sleepy, very sleepy.

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