Day two began at pace this morning with a big crowd present from early. If anything, it seems more manic today with long queues forming for many of the speakers and panel discussions.
— Irish Tech News (@Irish_TechNews) November 4, 2015
First up on the main stage today was John Collison from Stripe. Every time I hear John speak, it’s hard not to be left impressed with how enthusiastic he is about Stripe and while he regularly points out that he feels he hasn’t “made it” yet, he has done pretty well for someone in his twenties.
John told us about growing the company from 10 employees at start up to over 320 now with plans to grow even further in the near future. Even though Stripe has made mobile payments far more accessible to the masses, it was interesting to hear John say that they felt they had only solved a fraction of the problem.
Questioned about Stripe’s international expansion plans and how they approach each new territory, John stated that international expansion needs to be in a company’s DNA to get it right and that when they launch in a new country they almost go through a beta period again seeking feedback from users to see what works and what doesn’t locally so they can adapt the product to suit.
When it was put to John that Stripe was more suited to Start Ups and next generation companies he pointed out that older companies were using their product but not to replace their existing set ups, rather they are rolling it out with new initiatives that they are launching.
Later on the Centre Stage we listened to a panel discussion titled ” The Fortune Tellers”. The panel consisted of Ryan Saver (Redpoint Ventures), Dave McClure (500 Startups) Jalak Jobanputra (FuturePerfect Ventures) and was chaired by Charlie Wells from the Wall Street Journal.
The panel was asked to predict the next hot tech topics and maybe look back that some that have underwhelmed.
The panel discussed “On Demand”, where it is suitable and where it is not and how it seemed like for a while everything was trying to follow this model.
Jalak told us about how half of Kenya’s GDP is now driven by citizens using older feature phones to complete financial transactions between themselves and then discussed how a Smartphone usable cryptocurrency could help people complete transactions globally with lower charges.
One of the points that was raised by the panel with regards to wearables was the lack of new sensors currently available for companies to integrate into their products. Because of this, many devices on the market now are basically the same hardware packaged slightly differently.
One of the most popular areas today was the Machine Summit which had several talks about Robots and Wearables. A common theme across many talks so far is surrounding how close we are to having helpful intelligent robots in our lives and how we then deal with this socially and interact with them in our homes.
Cynthia Breazeal from Jibo delivered a keynote surrounding the work she doing with robots and I guess this promo video will give you a better picture of what they are developing:
We also attended a talk by Lionel Paillet from Nest Labs. Lionel gave a good overview of how Nest came into existence and the design ethos that drove them.
After speaking about Nest’s current products, how they interact and work together, Lionel went on to talk about “Works with Nest” which is the programme that allows other manufacturers build compatibility with Nest into their own products. He told us that currently there are 11K developers working on products for this programme.
One of the issues we always come back to with home automation products is the lack of cross communication. There are 3rd party services that act as go betweens but they are not suited to actions that need to be actioned instantly. Nest know that this is a big issue and it has been holding back the sector for some time. Nest already have low energy, low latency wireless communications built into their devices, which is not reliant on wifi or an internet connection. They have now made this communication platform open source and available for other companies to use. An SDK will be available for developers early next year.
Another interesting discussion we attended today looked into what the future holds for wearables. The panel consisted of Eric Migicovsky (Pebble), Cedric Hutchings (Withings), John Paul (VenueNext) and was moderated by Adrian Weckler.
The initial discussions surrounded how trying to make Smartwatches look good is actually holding them back. They have become a fashion accessory now as much as a smart device and it is often the only jewellery a man will wear so it needs to look good.
The panel then discussed why Google Glass failed. John Paul was one of the early adaptors and he felt the reason why it failed was because of the inclusion of a camera. With people’s fears of privacy, the product never became socially acceptable and he gave the example of his daughter begging him not to be seen out in public with it on.
Making wearables exciting to use and adding real benefits instead of just adding more equipment for people to carry was agreed to be the path forward for wearables. People still find it exciting to interact with a smart device on their arm. Technology is not holding back progression so it is up to developers to come up with compelling reasons for people to want to purchase them.
We’ve met many start ups and early stage companies over the last two days with more to come tomorrow. We’ll be featuring them here in the coming weeks so keep an eye out for all our Web Summit follow up articles.