What Web Summit 2021 taught us in 4 bullet points

We were there. Web Summit 2021 has been the most exciting event for anyone working in the Innovation and the Digital Transformation… for so many reasons. The post-pandemic is a phase where insecurity has unleashed new energies and challenges. Facebook’s rebranding in a “metaverse” has made more tangible some of the weirdest, sci-fi-like technologies. Startups and young enterpreneurs are showing their potential all over the world, and European governments are getting aware about the inadequacy of the existing economic conditions to keep the talents.

And the whole panorama is actually more complex and stimulating.

That’s why we, Social Thingum, attended Web Summit 2021 in Lisbon from 1st to the 5th of November. As one of the 100 most innovative European startups, we were expecting this conference to be an opportunity to get in contact with different point of views, opinions, experiences of talents, enterpreneurs and startups. And it was even more than that.

Long story short, here are 4 quotes that struck us!

1. The Role of Apps during the pandemic

“… everything has become even more remote, even more mobile, because we have left the office, the schools, and stayed at home” – Tomer Bar Zeev

The global pandemic caused by Covid-19 has disrupted almost every aspect of every individual’s life. It has increased the distance between people, forcing them into total isolation and a loss of certainty.

Fortunately, according to CEO of IronSource Tomer Bar Zeev, apps and technology allowed us to work, to talk to each other, to not feel alone. Apps have shown us their potential of nurturing human relations alive in uncertainty times. How are they gonna help us achieve now and in the future?

2. Transparency is the new need of people

“… there’s a meta problem at Facebook, which is that over and over again, Facebook chooses expansion and new areas over sticking the landing on what they’ve already done” – Frances Haugen

The presence of Frances Haugen, Facebook whistleblower, has a great impact on the whole startup panorama. Transparency and ethics are the only way to provide real value to the world through Innovation. Tech industry must acknowledge users the right to a fair use of data all over the world.

3. ESNA and the crucial role of startups for economies

“…tech has shown to be the one thing that has kept our economies alive and shows the promise of the future” – Pedro Siza Vieira

The crucial importance played by tech sector during the pandemic has shown to the world the flexibility and the resilience of Digital and Innovation, which can significantly impact economies and the lives of many.

That’s why startups need to be acknowledged by national economies not just as a trendy phenomenon, but as a resource of immense potential.

Startups helped European Economy. Now national economies need to help startups. That’s the mission of ESNA, the European Startup Nations Alliance, introduced by the Minister of Economy and Digital Transition of Portugal Pedro Siza Vieira. ESNA is “committed to ensuring their startups have the best conditions to grow at every stage of their life cycle” as described by DigiByte.

4. The power of data

“The winner is the one who creates the data and the loser is everyone else.” – Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Data are precious. Through data you can obtain information. Through information you can find solutions and get better insights over reality, but also gain control on society, politics and democracy.

That’s why data should not be siloed in massive data collections that people can’t control, as Sir Tim Berners-Lee warned us.


We were there. We had to be there. Pandemic has increased the importance of digital all round, as shown by the speeches during the Web Summit. In particular, the Web Summit gave us further inspiration to make an impact on the EdTech industry with our smart, digital learning platform WhoTeach, thanks to our networking activities. But above all, we are more aware of our responsibilities as startups in society. We play a crucial role in today’s economy.



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