I want to like Paddy Cosgrave. He’s a relatively youthful, successful entrepreneur, putting Ireland Inc on the international map, attracting legions of hipsters, billionaire geeks, veecees, and visionaries to our capital, along with Eva Longoria, Dan Brown and Rio Ferdinand.
Over the past five years he has grown his conference (and let’s be honest, despite the smoke, mirrors and technomancy, it’s still a conference) from 400 attendees to over 30,000, generating an estimated €100m for the Irish economy and, one expects, a substantial amount for himself.
I really do want to like Paddy Cosgrave, but he makes it so damn hard.
He comes across as an entitled, arrogant ass. He’s pushy, aggressive and unapologetic.
Most of the Irish business community appears to have been spammed by him at one time or another. I have never received any unsolicited mail from him, which makes me feel oddly despondent – like never having been injuncted by Denis O’Brien.
He castigates hotels for increasing their prices during the event, yet charges €1,250 per ticket and €20 for a pretty paltry luncheon. Moreover, despite the increasing success of the Web Summit, it has largely been staffed by unpaid volunteers.
While espousing the ideals of entrepreneurship, he expects the Irish state to step in and solve the problems his private business venture has encountered.
And he never, ever stops whining. About the traffic, about the hotel prices, about the WiFi, about the media coverage, about the weather and about the government’s lack of initiative.
So we bid him a hearty Adeus and eagerly await the outcome of his decision to move next year’s event to Lisbon.
Most of what drove the Web Summit’s success was the character of the city of Dublin itself. Its informality, its compactness, its pub scene and its warmth. And it’s a clear barometer of Cosgrave’s hubris that he fails to recognise this.