Are the possibilities of the internet being shaded by shady intentions?

Web Summit has grown to become the largest tech conference on the planet attracting start-ups, global multi-billion players, tech-nerds and regular curious minds. Of course, Cupole was there this year to take part of the fun, securing that all new tech trends reach our Stockholm office and charging our entrepreneurial blood with new energy. Here are our key findings after spending a few days in Lisbon.

  1. The revolution is over. The Internet is no a teenager anymore, it has grown into adulthood. Maybe it is because 2018 was the year where regular internet users in the world reached above 50% of the world population. Or maybe it was because the free speech of the internet recent years did not serve the liberal democratic crowd as it had before. Anyhow, experts, global leaders and internet-gurus such as the father of internet, Tim Berners-Lee, are no longer talking about full internet freedom or free speech at any cost. Instead the buzz at Web Summit 2018 is all about the success of GDPR in Europe, the need for GDPR on a global level, regulations on how to secure information so that it is not harming any humans nor harming democracy as well as the hunt for fake news. Not what you heard on tech festivals 5 years ago.
  2. “Customers are complex and have feelings. Robots do not”. A.I. is still a hot topic for the digital global leaders and will for sure be for a while as they seem to be struggling on what A.I. can do and how it will impact their business. An example of this would be Jager McConnell, CEO of Crunchbase, stating that his tactic for handling A.I. is rather to not investing lot of money on A.I. until others have taken it further… On the other hand, the 100s of start-ups circulating on Web Summit 2018 offering all kinds of different support to the big dragons to win the A.I. battle.
  3. I. will not steel your job. At least if you are not working with repetitive tasks or do not need to understand human emotions in your job. The gap between A.I. pessimists and optimists is still huge where the Web Summit 2018 will be remembered as the optimist’s playground with quotes as from SAP’s CMO Alicia Tillman stating that A.I. will on the total increase human jobs in the future. Cupole conclude that A.I. is happening, however, let’s not jump to conclusions on its impact on the global workforce. Or to quote the CTO of Samsung, Luc Julia; “A.I. is just in its very beginning. Let’s wait and see what it can do for us”.
  4. Tech start-ups are still hot as volcanos. Sharing thoughts with the CEO and Founder of a mid-sized soon-to-be-IPOed Swedish tech company on the flight to Lisbon strengthened what we have seen via our M&A advisory branch last 18 months: Investors money are everywhere if you are a Swedish SME tech company. “Raising money for my company is not as challenging anymore. I don’t call investors, they call me” was not a quote Cupole heard from start-up CEOs in 2013, however, after Web Summit 2018 we can only conclude that tech companies are still hyped (and maybe as hyped as ever before?). It will for sure be interesting if this rally for acquiring SME tech companies will continue when the global economy shifts as expected upcoming years.

We flew back to Stockholm with more energy, new insights on what kind of challenges our clients will face in the future as well as ideas on how we in the future can strengthen our client delivery. Until then: Thanks Lisbon!

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