Engineering Serendipity: The Story of Web Summit’s Growth

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Our growth has been largely propelled by data science. Or more correctly, in my view, network science. While conference companies hire event managers, we hire physicists with PHDs in areas like complex systems and network analysis. They then apply that knowledge and understanding to the task of creating and optimising real life networks. After all a conference is a network, albeit a momentary one. We love stuff like Gephi, NetworkX and Datasift, and algorithms like eigenvector centrality, Force Atlas and Fruchterman-Reingold. But what does that even mean?

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Put it this way: While conference companies typically hire experienced event planners, we hire computational physicists, applied statisticians, engineers of all shapes and sizes, some folks who know a thing or two about machine learning and AI, and then some awesome front end developers.

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.