Web Summit plans for 100,000 offline and online visitors in December

24 Jun 2020

Image: Sam Barnes/Web Summit via Flickr

Web Summit has said that it will return in December as an offline and online event, with capacity for 100,000 attendees.

With its Collision tech conference now underway online, Web Summit has promised that its flagship annual event will return with both offline and online events from 2 to 4 December this year.

In a press conference today (24 June), Web Summit CEO and founder Paddy Cosgrave said Collision so far has been a “demo day” for future events radically changed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, organisers have said that the Web Summit main event will have a capacity of up to 100,000 this year, refuting rumours that the event was not going to go ahead at all. However, what format the event will take and what percentage of the event will be held offline will not be decided until the beginning of October at the earliest. After this point, it will be reviewed weekly ahead of the December start date.

“The purpose for most of us going to these events is networking. The serendipity that happens at events is the allure and magnetism that draws people back,” Cosgrave said earlier today.

“We have been building software that enables connections at events for over half a decade so we could pivot quite naturally online. Our platform will hopefully enable people from all over the world to make the same meaningful and valuable connections that are somewhat similar to the real world.”

SaaS for big events

Cosgrave added that the platform the company developed to allow Collision be an online-only event this year will likely be treated as a SaaS product that could be licensed for other events.

“Our focus is on very large events run by the biggest companies in the world whose needs are bespoke and similar to ours,” he said.

“That requires a level of planning and features that is not what your average-size conference needs. Most companies want to continue to do business or organise events and if we can help them in any way we could do that.”

He added that his hope is that the flagship Web Summit event could potentially hold more than 100,000 attendees. With Portugal still the official home of the event, Cosgrave said that offline events will likely be held across the country, rather than just in Lisbon.

“Whatever the limitations are we want to do something spread over Portugal,” he said. “For the last three years it’s been so focused on Lisbon.”

The Web Summit logo. Image: Sam Barnes/Web Summit via Sportsfile/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic