Web Summit founder and CEO Paddy Cosgrave has said that Dublin is being left behind in the tech world by the cost of living crisis.
Speaking at a press conference at Web Summit in Lisbon this morning, the Trinity alumnus said that most tech startups are being built outside of Ireland due to the expensive cost of living in Dublin.
“Cities go through cycles,” Cosgrave said in response to a question from Trinity News.
“At a certain point Dublin was one of the lowest cost cities in Europe to live,” Cosgrave explained. “It is now the single most expensive city in the entire Eurozone. That’s quite an achievement.”
Cosgrave continued: “Unfortunately, most of the Irish-founded startups I have backed – it’s a ratio of about three to one – are being built outside of Ireland.”
“Sometimes I think that’s fantastic, other times I lament the fact that our most talented entrepreneurs feel compelled to leave Ireland to build successful businesses,” Cosgrave stated.
Cosgrave added that while the cost of living crisis in Ireland is “not an easy problem to solve”, it is a “massive, massive problem” currently.
Cosgrave also said that conditions in Lisbon have allowed it to become a “boomtown” for tech.
“The views of lisbon could not have changed more,” he said, adding that the Portuguese capital has grown from being “off the radar for tech, to arguably [at] the centre”.
Web Summit, the annual tech convention founded by Cosgrave, David Kelly, and Daire Hickey in Dublin in 2009, moved to Lisbon permanently in 2016.
Asked if Web Summit has played a role in Lisbon’s growth as a tech capital, Cosgrave said: “I’d love to say that Web Summit made Lisbon, but I think Lisbon made Web Summit.”
“The ingredients were already here,” he said, citing the “incredible culture”, peaceful country and exceptional weather in Lisbon.
“When you can work from anywhere if you’re working in tech, [which is] increasingly the case, you get to choose where you work,” said Cosgrave.
Cosgrave added that Portugal has become a popular country for remote workers and “digital nomads”.
“Perhaps we played some small role but we sort of spotted a wave before it was apparent to anyone else.”
Speaking at a press conference this morning, Cosgrave also spoke about building Web Summit.
“It takes a team to build a company,” Cosgrave said. “Building anything requires other human beings.”
Cosgrave also spoke about the role of journalism in today’s online world. He indicated that even though journalists may “disagree” with one another, particularly in relation to American news platforms, journalists will still “fight for the right for journalists to do their jobs”.
“People should disagree with each other, and disagree with each other fiercely,” Cosgrave emphasised.
Cosgrave said that he is hopeful that Web Summit will remain “Switzerland”, in which people may come with various opinions.
Cosgrave is a former business manager of Trinity News, a Trinity alumnus, and a former president of the University Philosophical Society (the Phil).