Surf’s up for startups at Web Summit 2017

Web Summit’s co-founder Paddy Cosgrave speaks during the inauguration of Web Summit, Europe’s biggest tech conference, in Lisbon, Portugal, Nov. 6, 2017. (Reuters/Pedro Nunes)
Updated 07 November 2017
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Surf’s up for startups at Web Summit 2017

LISBON: The next generation of Internet giants gather this week in Portugal for four days of tech-fueled networking, nights out and — for the first time this year — surfing of the offline variety.
Web Summit, which likes to promote itself as “the Davos for geeks” and provides a platform for startups to hook up with venture capitalists and hear about new trends from industry leaders such as Facebook, will see around 60,000 tech experts convene in Lisbon, where participants will look to catch a break either in or out of the water.
“Lisbon is kind of the surf capital of Europe, so not going surfing would be a very significant missed opportunity,” said Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave.
Around 250 participants arrived in the Portuguese capital ahead of Tuesday’s official start to enjoy some of Europe’s best waves.
Mircea Baldean, founder and CEO of Canada-based startup MeetVibe, said he was looking forward to the networking opportunities at the event.
“It’s my first time in Lisbon, my first time surfing and my first time at Web Summit... as an entrepreneur you have to be ready to do new things every day.”
But the event isn’t all beach shorts and wipeouts: there’s serious money up for grabs with some of the world’s largest tech firms scouting for the next big app or technology in which to invest.
Organizers claim that around a third of startups who display their products at the Web Summit find a donor within 12 months.
“We’ve got 1,500 of the most active investors from around the world and a sample of 2,000 really high potential startups,” said Cosgrave.
Speakers at this year’s event include former US President Al Gore, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and former olympian and campaigner Caitlyn Jenner — as well as representatives from Internet giants such as Amazon and app-based behemoths Uber and Tinder.


The stakes are high: organizers say one fifth of all venture capital invested in the last three years went to firms that participated in Web Summit — accounting for tens of billions of euros.
But they are also open about its out-of-hours approach to networking, and hope relationships forged in the bars and restaurants of Lisbon can go on to power the next waves of online innovation.
“The truth is a lot of the best relationships are built over dinner, over long walks in the city and other social activities. So we put a huge emphasis on what happens after 5 pm,” said Cosgrave.
For Michael Memeteau, a founder of an energy startup who will be acting as an unofficial guide for one of the after-hours “pub crawls,” it’s the social aspect that makes Web Summit so popular.
“The thing is to keep some energy for the night, as the quality of exchanges is better,” he said. “In fact I’m only going to go to three of the actual talks.”
Tommy Otzen, CEO of Danish start up Kubo Robot and winner of last year’s Web Summit “Pitch” competition to find the best new firm, said his company received a one-million-euro investment off the back of the conference.
“Our success at last year’s Web Summit was what triggered that relationship, because we got a lot of media attention,” he said.


Bangladesh police arrest lawyer-publisher tied to opposition

Updated 23 October 2018
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Bangladesh police arrest lawyer-publisher tied to opposition

  • Detectives arrested Moinul Hosein after raiding an opposition leader’s home in Dhaka
  • Details of the charges were not immediately clear including whether they were related to a recently passed digital security law
DHAKA, Bangladesh: A prominent lawyer and newspaper publisher who is tied to Bangladesh’s political opposition has been arrested on defamation charges amid concern the government is acting tough on dissent ahead of national elections, police said Tuesday.
Detectives arrested Moinul Hosein late Monday after raiding an opposition leader’s home in the capital, said Mahbub Alam, a joint commissioner of the Detective Branch of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Hosein is the publisher of the English-language New Nation daily and heads its editorial board.
Alam said the warrant issued by a court in northern Bangladesh on Monday involved a television talk show appearance where Hosein called a journalist “characterless” after she asked him if he represented the Jamaat-e-Islami party to a recently formed opposition alliance.
Details of the charges were not immediately clear including whether they were related to a recently passed digital security law.
The head of the alliance is another prominent lawyer and head of a smaller party, Kamal Hossain, who was chosen by prominent opposition figures and civil society members including Hosein.
The main party in the alliance is the Bangladesh Nationalist Party headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who is now in jail for corruption and whose elder son is the party’s heir-apparent and would face prison himself if he returned from London where he lives. Recently a court in Dhaka sentenced Tarique Rahman to life in prison for a 2004 grenade attack on then-opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, now prime minister, in which 24 people were killed. Hasina narrowly escaped.
The opposition alliance was formed this month in hopes of defeating the ruling alliance of Hasina in the next elections, which are expected to be held in December.
Jamaat-e-Islami is a close ally of Zia’s party, and Hasina’s government has executed almost all the party’s top leaders for their role in killings, arson and rape during Bangladesh’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971.
Hosein, who is a critic of Hasina, is expected to be produced before the court Tuesday. He was a former adviser to an army-backed caretaker government in 2006-2008 when both Hasina and Zia were arrested before Hasina came out and won the elections in 2008 to form the government.
Hosein’s arrest came hours after Hasina criticized his comment against the journalist and asked female journalists to file defamation charges against him.
The government has recently passed a digital security law, despite widespread criticism by journalists and rights groups that it would be used against freedom of speech and press freedom. The government says it has been enacted to protect the country from misinformation and propaganda.