Microsoft, airbnb, WhatsApp, Apple, and Uber would be just a handful of present-day tech giants who launched during deflated markets and times of financial crisis.
The Scottish philosopher William MacAskill has a narrative around what he describes as plasticity, that there are moments in time when change is much easier. MacAskill uses an analogy of history being like molten glass, so when glass is hot it can be folded into different shapes. But when the glass is harder, it’s much more difficult to change things.
In the tech sector, with widespread job losses and hiring freezes, over and above the current woes in cryptocurrency, we are definitely in a time of change.
A somewhat more renowned philosopher, Plato, wrote in his Socratic masterpiece Republic that “our need will be the real creator”, a saying that has morphed into a more commonly used proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention”.
What is certain is that MacAskill’s analogical glassblowing will continue in the technology sector, in software and hardware, and across both the Web 2.0 and web3 manifestations of the internet.
In BetDEX’s address to conference, co-founders Nigel Eccles and Varun Sudhakar explained their plan to disrupt sports betting, a sector valued globally at around 2 trillion dollars, with a web3 offering positioned to address the constraints of Web 2.0 equivalents – namely, a fragmented market, high fees, locked up funds, counterparty risk, and an aversion to winning bettors.
Being in situ at Breakpoint, it would not be an understatement to say that BetDEX was one of the best received storylines at the four-day event over a balmy few days in Lisbon. And no real surprise from the guys who built the astronomical sports betting company FanDuel from a base in Scotland.
Tech conferences play an important role in technology ecosystems, a point highlighted in Mark Logan’s 2020 STER report. While our domestic tech conferences – Turing Fest, EIE, ScotSoft, DataFest, or DIGITExpo, which took place this week at the EICC, to name a few – are important fixtures on Scotland’s tech scene, the trip to Lisbon reminded me how important it can be to jump on a plane to get your finger on the pulse of other international ecosystems, and build meaningful connections.
Today, Startup Grind Scotland jets out to Helsinki with a cohort of startup founders and ecosystem stakeholders like CodeBase to attend Slush, a major fixture on the international tech conference calendar, along with site visits to Nokia, Startup Sauna, and Aalto University.
The Startup Grind team has promised me a wrap piece on the Finland swing, so look forward to reading a postcard from Helsinki in this column in the weeks ahead.
Overall, I guess the hope is that we can take the learnings and connections made at conferences like Slush in Helsinki, and Breakpoint in Lisbon back to Scotland to help power our own tech ecosystem forward.
Nick Freer is the founding director of corporate communications agency the Freer Consultancy