If you haven’t been to the Web Summit event in Dublin, you should get yourself there next year.  It’s one of the best conferences around, blending technology, sports, politics, education, marketing and music into one, fast-paced event.  These blended conferences that bring an assortment of industries to one event follow in the vein of SXSW, which focuses more on entertainment as the core with tech and the internet augmenting.  Web Summit is the opposite.  The center is tech, and music, sports and all the other mini-industry events all come with a tech flavor.

The conference keeps things interesting by switching out the booths each day, having multiple stages with various topics happening all day, and keeping the presentations to 10-12 minutes long.  It’s hard-hitting and fast-moving, just like today’s business world.

My favorite presentation at the event was Stripe, a payment infrastructure company.  I was impressed by the founder and entrepreneur, who was raised in Ireland and founded the company with his brother.  He seemed wise beyond his years, and frankly, wiser than some of the Silicon Valley CEOs that have at least 10 years on him.

I spent most of my time in the lounge areas having meetings with founders and entrepreneurs.  However, the talks on Centre stage pulled me away from time to time, and my colleagues raved about the Sports Summit and the Builders Summit talks.  There were so many good presentations that sometimes we had to make tough choices.  I didn’t get to stay for the final presentation with Bono, the CEO of Spotify, Dana Brunetti of House of Cards and the New York Times.  Next year, I’ll be sure to stay for the whole thing, as the show doesn’t lighten up, even at the end.

The hardest part was networking, as you’re unlikely to see the same people twice at such a large event.  However, even an event with 20,000 people, Web Summit has tried to facilitate private conversations with meeting lounges and the famous evening pub crawls.  The blended conference is the model for the next generation of conferences.  It was one of the best run events I’ve been to in a while.  I’m looking forward to next year.  If you’re going, reach out and let me know.  I’ll look for you there.