One of the world’s biggest technology get-togethers kicks off in the Portuguese capital today, with organisers saying a key aim is to ask tough questions about cryptocurrencies.
Around 100,000 people are expected to gather in Lisbon for the four-day Web Summit and related events, the first full-scale edition since 2019 following the disruption of the pandemic.
The conference attempts to bring together start-ups, investors, business leaders and agenda-broadening speakers — linguist Noam Chomsky and heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk are among this year’s lineup.
Several of the prime slots, though, are taken by cryptocurrency specialists led by Changpeng Zhao, boss of crypto exchange Binance.
And plenty of companies present – from start-ups to billion-dollar behemoths Yuga Labs and OpenSea – are promoting the technology that fans claim will be the future of the web, gaming and ultimately the entire financial system.
But crypto has so far been derided as a tool to generate investment bubbles, hide illicit wealth and enable scams.
Conference organiser Paddy Cosgrave told AFP there were “a lot of questions to be answered” about crypto, describing it as “largely smoke and mirrors”.
“We’ve done our best to persuade many of the leading lights in the space to come, and some of them will get a bit of a kicking on stage, we’ll see how that goes,” he added.
Crypto sceptics including actor Ben McKenzie (Gotham, The O.C.) have also been given slots.
Organisers said the event’s 70,000 tickets had sold out, with Cosgrave reckoning some 30,000 more people would be in Lisbon for side events.
Hurriyet Daily News