Web Summit Uses Layer to Create a Frictionless Experience

at the Fastest-Growing Tech Conference in History

Purpose and Mission

Web Summit has become “Europe’s largest and most important technology marketplace,” a crossroads for the world’s largest buyers and sellers of technology, alongside many of the world’s most disruptive emerging technology companies. Web Summit “engineers serendipity” at the scale of 50,000 attendees.

Meeting Explanation

Web Summit was once described as Davos for geeks. More than 53,000 tech CEOs, founders, startups, investors and political leaders driving change around the world came together in Lisbon in 2016. Together with more than 2,000 media attendees, these leaders contemplated answers to the tech revolution’s biggest questions.

  • Event

    The societal and economic consequences of technology innovation, demographic shifts, and political transformations.

  • Event Details

    • 60,000+ attendees
    • 68% senior management
    • 650+ speakers
    • 2,200+ journalists
    • 160+ countries
    • 15,000+ companies

  • Website



Most conference companies hire experienced event planners. Web Summit hires computational physicists, applied statisticians, AI specialists and engineers of all shapes and sizes to apply graph theory and optimize the conference experience.

But the heart of the Web Summit conference (and the reason for its success) is its power to enable networking and human connection.

The more frictionless this experience can be, the better the conference—which is why partnering with Layer makes so much sense.

Everything Web Summit does to improve recommendations within the conference is powered by a messaging experience built on Layer.

Web Summit highlights

Frictionless messaging drives 98% satisfaction with the Web Summit experience

Layer has enabled us from the very start to speed up the process of creating frictionless human connections at Web Summit. As opposed to building all the infrastructure needed to create messaging and a lot more, we use Layer. It’s been incredibly important for everything we do and the experience we give our attendees.

Paddy Cosgrave

Founder and CEO of Web Summit

Top challenges

Everything Web Summit does is to improve the recommendations that drive attendee experiences. The conference must make it easy to find the right people to talk to, structure those conversations, organize meetings, map out schedules and more.

This is why graph theory and mathematics are at the core of Web Summit—to collect and analyze all of the small data points that combine to create a better conference.

The underlying technology allows Web Summit to surface seldom-heard speakers across many fields, personalize session recommendations, and offer insight into specific people attendees should reach out to.

But creating many products (lanyards, registration software, recommendation systems, etc.) to improve the conference takes time. Creating a messaging infrastructure from scratch to drive the user interface could impact resources and compromise other efforts. This is why Web Summit looked for outside help.

The fix

Web Summit has worked with Layer ever since 2015 when the event only hosted 400 attendees. Building the event’s app with a Layer messaging backbone is a big reason why Web Summit has grown so quickly, powering frictionless communications for more than 60,000 attendees in 2017.

By combining the graph theory-powered technology with a seamless messaging interface, Web Summit is able to satisfy attendees to the point that 98% would return in the future. This is an unusually high level of satisfaction in the conference world and it’s only possible when attendee experience is put first.

The messaging experience

  • Group Discussion:

    Coordinate meetings with multiple attendees regardless of how many native languages there are within the group.

  • Schedule Meetings:

    Integration with smartphone calendars and the Web Summit agenda makes it easier to schedule meetings with any attendee.

  • Locate Each Other:

    Leverage the smartphone’s GPS capabilities to make sure attendees are always on the same page with meeting locations.

  • Share Memories:

    Easily post photos, videos and more within the messaging experience to strengthen attendee engagement.

The result

Attendees may not realize how much goes into planning a conference. Conference organizers will read up on network science and crowd psychology, run controlled experiments within their events, and survey attendees until they have every data point necessary to reach new heights in the experience.

At the same time, organizers can’t get bogged down in the data and forget to deliver a quality in-person experience.

Because messaging is now the universal communication platform, conference quality depends on the ability to merge backend data analytics with a seamless user interface.

Bringing Layer into the Web Summit experience makes it possible to excel on both the back end and front end to drive the event from 400 attendees to 60,000+ in just two years.

Looking ahead

Web Summit is the first software company to create events. What started as one Web Summit conference has transformed into a massive event including 21 smaller conferences covering many different sectors. Moving forward, Web Summit will introduce more events around the world—and a partnership with Layer for frictionless messaging will be integral along the way.

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