Technology & SaaS 16.11.22

Web Summit 2022

Earlier this month, some of the Harmonic team and I had the pleasure of attending Web Summit 2022 held in Lisbon. Web Summit is Europe’s largest tech event that brings together some of the biggest names in tech alongside a global community of start-ups.

Web Summit 2022

Earlier this month, some of the Harmonic team and I had the pleasure of attending Web Summit 2022 held in Lisbon. Web Summit is Europe’s largest tech event that brings together some of the biggest names in tech alongside a global community of start-ups. Our mission was clear: to learn as much as possible about the future of tech and network with incredibly inspiring leaders and entrepreneurs. Here are some of the top takeaways from the 4-day conference:

1. Fundraising

Fred Dustin, founder of Stride VC, was optimistic about the state of start-ups in the current climate. He reasoned that small companies steal the march against incumbents because their agile teams adapt more fluidly to changing conditions.

Tim Draper discussed growth by itself is no longer a value. In short, the venture capitalists agreed that the era of wild valuations is over. His advice for start-ups was: preserve your runway and survive the next 1-2 years, and you will be in pole position afterwards.

The takeaway from the "unicorn investing" panel was that now is a great time for investors to find start-ups with serious growth and support them at more reasonable valuations.

2. Purpose in the age of digital transformation

Digital Transformation is essential for growth, but it is not a project, it is a journey. A journey tapping into the ecosystem of technology, partnering concepts and people. David Rubin, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at The New York Times, explained the Times' digital transformation and how he brought a CPG mindset to the world of media. It was fascinating to hear the value of codifying your brand’s purpose to overhaul your organization’s strategy and galvanise your internal audience

It is important to keep in mind that your business model should bring value to others and teach how to be agile by doing so ourselves. Enabling Power platform by walking the talk every day!

3. Marketing in 2023

Marketing teams are shifting their focus from brand positioning and awareness to activations, performance, and ROIs.

With the upcoming privacy changes and the end of 3rd-party cookies and 3rd-party targeting, investing in AdTech and MarTech presents an opportunity to aid marketers through a turbulent time.

60-65% of an average client’s budget is within digital and will be at 75% by 2025. Therefore, you must be more selective about placing your bets - both geographically and functionally.

Consistency is key for content-makers, and strong platform/web engagement is more important than ever - “The algorithm of the platform is the new gatekeeper.”

50 is the average number of marketing tools! A clear owner should act to govern and integrate MarTech tools in alignment with sales and marketing expectations to achieve business scalability.

4. Women only get 2% of VC funding but run 15% of global unicorns

Lindsay Kaplan spoke on how to get more women in leadership roles. Lindsay runs a female-only network called Chief, which is a network of the top female executives across the US with plans to set up in the UK. There are 20,000 members from thousands of organisations and 50,000 members waiting to gain membership - with this demand for the members club it was valued at $1.1bn in March.

o Lindsay’s key points to boost female leadership were that mentorship for women from women is essential to encouraging career trajectory and it’s “not about empowering women as women are already powerful”. Cross-pollination of industries and sectors is key to providing different perspectives while collaborating with communities and networks to strengthen the decisions women make in the workplace.

We were thrilled to see the Georgian start-up Theneo (YC W22), with the young female founder Ana Robakidze won at the Web Summit stage. They create documentation for the API and you can see more about them on their website.

Software may be eating the world, but low code could eat software

The future of coding and development means everyone can be a developer nowadays by using no-code / low-code software. The human touch will be what truly tells the difference between business solutions. The explosion of citizen development is also a hot topic across sessions and side talks are already here, allowing us to understand how the profile of the coder is changing. Christine Spang made a crucial point of how important humanity is as a factor in any growth and that data is not there to direct this growth but to be a tool that will help us reach our main goals.

AI has evolved and is finally able to deliver a more human-computer interaction, but when developing services, one needs to consider that their design is not one-size-fits all. Notable companies we met that seem to be leading the way were both Noloco and who are solving the talent crunch software developer problem with a no-code approach and incredible AI technology!

5. The Metaverse and the future of the Internet

o Among the most discussed future trends were web3 and the Metaverse. Notably, the hypefor crypto seems to have been replaced by a rational discussion of its impact on the future and the best way to harness possible advantages.

o The gaming industry could be revolutionised by augmented and virtual reality. Some aspects of the metaverse are not as convincing but it is a space that is growing and is here to stay. It is necessary to understand how value is created and exchanged as mini economies are emerging in web3.

o In web3 one talks about zero-party data and no longer about third-party data.

o If there is a hype, there are always people who want to make money. It is important to sort through if there is a problem-solving product or service behind the promised solution and ask the right questions, such as:

Ø Is your team ready for the disruption the Web3 shows imminent?

Ø Does your brand believe the Metaverse is an intelligent investment channel?

Ø Do you have a structured open innovation process within your enterprise, being able to manage the daily operations while testing new value propositions, channels & markets that start-ups can provide?

6. CleanTech

Consumers have the power to have a positive impact on the world, and with AI it can help drive this impact more effectively. Users demand for more sustainable options of the products they buy, and therefore in my opinion it was a bad idea to invite the Chairman of SHEIN, one of the worst fast fashion brands in the world, to discuss the future of fashion. This was a missed opportunity by Web Summit to propel fashion brands committed to showing real change onto their stage. It was refreshing to see the level of impression that this has had, with people’s passion for sustainable consumerism and focus on the circular economy being exemplified by just how many were also unimpressed by the presence of this brand at the event. Aligning with customer values are crucial as we go into more challenging times. We were told a cost per click and cost per impression model does not work for sustainable brands.

The cleantech sector is still hot, despite the wider tech downturn, and is a destination for investment and talent. There are more cleantech VCs popping up and ready to invest, such asKiko Ventures.

There were also some exciting ideas and work emerging from The BMW Foundation and Prime Coalition. Tech still has the power to solve big problems like climate change but only if those in power see its value.

We met with two very impressive CleanTech fellow B Corps at Web Summit – Urbanvolt, Irelands first B Corp who are changing the way in reducing energy consumption in industrial facilities and Greenly, who are making carbon accounting simple and intuitive for SMEs and we look forward to following their journeys!

7. The Pitch

PITCH is a competition for early-stage start-ups, where out of over 2,300 start-ups exhibiting at Web Summit, only 105 were able to battle it out on-stage live-in front of an audience of thousands of Web Summit attendees, over the four days the event spans for, at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.

The start-ups who made it to the final were:

Theneo (Winner) co-founded and led by CEO Ana Robakidze

Gataca (Runner Up) founded and led by CEO Irene Hernández

Biome Diagnositcs (Runner Up) Co-founded and led by Barbara Sladek and Nikolaus Gasche

This was a significant achievement by these start-ups, particularly given the fact the judging panel comprised of Y Combinator president, Geoff Ralston (who gave a talk at Web Summit) , Monte Carlo co-founder and CEO, Barr Moses , 500 Global founding partner and CEO Christine Tsai and Siemens Xcelerator’s Bettina Rotermund.


From these takeaways, you will note that we executed our mission of learning as much as possible about the future of tech and network. Overall, the general consensus at Web Summit was the importance of how talent and tech can work together to solve some of the most crucial problems of our existence. For those who have not been, I strongly recommend you try it out next year (not that you need much motivation given it takes place in the land of Pasteis de nata).

If you would like to discuss this Web Summit article or if you are a senior leader and want to connect, send me a message on LinkedIn or by email at [email protected].

Related insights

See all insights

Sign up to the Harmonic email newsletter