Why Paddy Cosgrave hired Data Scientists to grow websummit from 400 to 20k attendees in just 4 years

Arguably no technology conference in history has grown faster. Somehow we’ve achieved that growth with no background in the conference industry and no resources to speak of, and all from a pretty peripheral location called Dublin. - Paddy Cosgrave

In a post on the Web Summit Blog, founder Paddy Cosgrave explains that this growth has been largely propelled by Data Science, or in his view, network science.

While traditional conference companies hire event managers, he hired physicists with PHDs in areas like complex systems and network analysis. They were asked to create and optimise social networks. After all a conference is a network.

We love stuff like Gephi, NetworkX and Datasift, and algorithms likeeigenvector centralityForce Atlas and Fruchterman-Reingold.

As Paddy explains it, if you make good connections at Web Summit, it’s not by accident.

While traditional conference companies fret over manually curating seating plans, compiling speaker lists and handpicking invites for networking events, we approach the challenge from a technical and mathematical point of view. We build algorithms that take into account who you are and who you might benefit from being on a pub crawl with or at a table with or in a meeting with.

He calls this approach “engineering serendipity”, and he believes it’s the secret to their success.

… what we lacked in experience, funding and location, we’ve made up for by building software and using data

Read his story here and if you want to understand more about Social Network Analysis, join the free Hands-On sessions organised by the Brussels Data Science Community in November: Check out this Meetup →

This story was also posted on datascienbe.com

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Tags: Atlas, Brussels, Community, Cosgrave, Data, Datasift, Force, Fruchterman-Reingold, Gephi, NetworkX, More…Paddy, Science, centrality, conference, data, datasciencebe.com, eigenvector, engineering, industry, science, serendipity, technology, traditional, websummit


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