Web Summit, the Irish technology conference which was in the news recently for its decision to move its hugely influential annual meeting to Lisbon, has been forced to publish a blog post denying that it’s a “scam” that targets startups.
The campaign against Web Summit kicked off on September 30 when Tech.eu published a post by writer Neil Murray titled, “Why I’m not going to Web Summit — in Dublin, Lisbon or anywhere else.”
Murray’s article accused Web Summit of deceptive marketing by inflating the number of attendees, and also highlighted the expensive prices that the conference charges to startups wishing to meet investors.
Business Insider contacted Web Summit for further comment and we will update this story if we hear back. In the meantime, many people spoke out on Twitter in support of Murray’s argument.
There was even a Twitter account named “Summit Boycott” that was started to try to convince people not to attend:
It has since been deleted.
Web Summit fired back at critics on October 1, when it published a blog post titled “Is Web Summit a Scam? — Setting the record straight.” The article didn’t mention the Tech.eu post or link to it, but it was clear that it was in response to Murray’s article.
In the post, Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave argued that Web Summit was an influential gathering that had grown fast, but it may have communicated poorly how its pricing works:
None of this is true. What is true is that Web Summit is now the most influential gathering of startups in the global technology ecosystem. We don’t always get it right and when we look at what we have done in the past, we sometimes wince. But we care about getting it right and about giving startups the best experience we can.
What is also perhaps true is that, as we have grown, we could have done a better job at explaining our pricing and the value we deliver for startups. This may have allowed this FUD to gain more traction than it deserved to.
Cosgrave also outlined the pricing scheme for startups:
- ALPHA (early stage) track: €1,950 — 4 tickets
- BETA (have raised €1-3M or have a proven record of market traction) track : €2,950 — 4 tickets
- START (raised more than €3M) track : €3,950 — 2 tickets, START Lounge, START/Speaker dinner
There have been some supportive tweets about Web Summit’s response, but many come from people employed by the conference:
Nick Halstead, the founder of London startup DataSift, published a blog post supporting Web Summit. He said that “you mostly get what you pay for in this world” and complained that there has been a “consistent pattern of attack on Web Summit by those who really should know better.”
Tech.eu has since published another article drawing attention to Cosgrave’s post, and has called on startups and previous Web Summit attendees to get in touch with information about the conference.