The WebSummit Unicorns Orgy And How it Kills Portugal

Every November I have the same dilemma and I always reach the same conclusion: stay as far away from Lisbon and its WebSummit unicorns, entrepreneurs, bringers of rain and dream chasers as possible.

What I see every time I come to Portugal is definitely a lot of investment but very low permanent value being created:

  • A lot of investment in exchanging hours for money.
  • In giving Portuguese millennials “competitive jobs” with salaries 40% lower than their central european peers.
  • In using perks like transportation, food allowances and modern working conditions as competitive advantages when this should be the standard in the first place.
  • In manipulative promotional schemes, sexism and gender discrimination that are made to keep Portugal attractive to its foreign investors
  • In being a little paradise full of sun, good food and people eager to help someone else make their dreams come true

Events like the WebSummit are the stage where all of this comes together. The place where politicians go to feed their egos and push their personal agendas, where entrepreneurs fight for their place in the sun, with the hopes of attracting foreign attention that take them as far away from Portugal as possible and where investors find a great docile playground to eat more companies to the bone and leave their founders with the breadcrumbs.

All of this in a big fat religious orgy of excitement, made possible by young entrepreneurs volunteering for 18 hours a day for an event that charges thousands of euros per ticket. I’m a big fan of circus, don’t get me wrong. Every year during Christmas I try to visit one since it brings me back very sweet childhood memories.  However like in any circus and many situations in life, if you can’t spot who’s the clown… Yeah, you got my point.

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