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.


Bulgaria indicts suspect in journalist killing

Updated 19 October 2018
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Bulgaria indicts suspect in journalist killing

  • ‘Yes, I am guilty. I am sorry, I can’t believe I did this’
  • The 30-year-old TV presenter was found near a jogging path along the Danube in Ruse on October 6

SOFIA: Bulgarian prosecutors on Friday indicted a man accused of the rape and murder of a television journalist and the court hearing the case ordered him to remain in custody pending trial.
Severin Krasimirov, 20, was handcuffed and under heavy guard when he appeared before the regional court in the northern town of Ruse.
He told journalists that he had approached journalist Viktoria Marinova and hit her in the face.
“Yes, I am guilty. I am sorry, I can’t believe I did this,” he said.
Prosecutors called for him to be tried for Marinova’s rape and murder.
According to media reports, he had already admitted that to police in Germany where he was arrested.
But he said he had not known that Marinova had died and denied raping her.
If convicted, Krasimirov faces a jail sentence of 10-20 years for the rape and a possible life sentence for the murder.
The body of the 30-year-old television presenter was found near a jogging path along the Danube in Ruse on October 6.
Authorities said she died from blows to the head and suffocation, and that she was raped after her death.
The case shocked Bulgaria and drew strong international condemnation as observers suspected a possible connection between the crime and Marinova’s work.
However, investigators found no evidence to support this theory.
They said the crime appeared to be “a spontaneous attack.”
Ruse prosecutor Kremena Kolitsova told the court that evidence and medical expertise showed the journalist had been punched seven times in the face and the resulting nasal fracture led to her suffocation.
Investigators said Marinova’s blood had also been found on Krasimirov’s clothes.
The prosecutor said the suspect should remain under arrest because of the risk of flight.
Krasimirov was arrested in the German town of Stade, near the northern city of Hamburg, on October 9, after leaving Bulgaria by car on the day after the killing.