The MWC afterparties complement the event’s busy programme

The off-MWC fills the city with parties and parallel events that allow the participants to interact in a fun environment and engage in the most fashionable activity: networking

T

The Mobile World Congress (MWC), one of the global meccas of mobile communications, cannot ignore the importance of in-person communication either, the kind that requires no more technology than our own senses. The possibility of shaking hands and looking at our interlocutor’s eyes is crucial even at an event that is about and for technology, where networking is as important as the hackneyed concept of disruption.

Similar to what happens at other major events hosted in Barcelona (one good example is the Sónar music festival and the myriad activities held around it, known as Off-Sónar), the MWC generates a bustling calendar of parallel social events on the same days as the congress which are more or less associated with its official programme. They range from institutional events strictly by invitation only, where the security is extreme (like the opening dinner for the authorities attended by the King, which has caused such a buzz in the news these days) to parties thrown by the major multinationals which are gatherings of the industry crème de la crème. Some are sponsored by the large brands participating in the fair, while others are organised by independent promoters, who take advantage of the fact that the most influential players in the global industry have flocked to the city to foster in-person contacts in a more relaxed and informal setting than the fair itself.

The majority of the most sought-after and best-equipped spaces in the city are reserved for one of the multiple events which extend the feverish daytime activity into the night and allow the formality of the congress to fade amidst drinks, music and relaxed conversations that allow the participants to engage in more relaxed and human interactions

Much of the economic impact generated by the 108,000 participants in the MWC (471 million euros and 13,000 temporary workers, according to the organisers) has to do with these parallel activities. Thus, the Catalan Federation of Restaurant and Music Activities (FECASARM) predicts earnings of 121 million euros by restaurants and nightlight spots, 4.5% more than in the previous edition.

The majority of the most sought-after and best-equipped spaces in the city are reserved for one of the multiple events which extend the feverish daytime activity into the night and allow the formality of the congress to fade amidst drinks, music and relaxed conversations that allow the participants to engage in more relaxed and human interactions. However, these social gatherings even further highlight the lack of parity among the members of the tech community, with an overwhelming majority of men. The community is plural, however, and also fits in such specific events as the cocktail held last Monday to present the application of blockchain technology to benefit the LGBT community, along with meetings devoted to the still-small community of female creative directors, such as the one to be held this afternoon [on Thursday, March 1] under the slogan Ladies, Wine & Design.

FOUR YEARS FROM NOW (4YFN) BECAMES INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT 

The increasing prominence of the Four Years From Now (4YFN) platform, which hosts the entire start-up ecosystem, has its own circuit of events meant to get entrepreneurs in the sector in touch with investors and companies interested in backing their budding projects. They are called the start-up pitchers: young entrepreneurs from the start-ups meet with business angels who are looking for projects to finance.

Last Sunday, more than 800 journalists from 54 countries met at the University of Barcelona to learn about the products and innovations of a group of tech companies that pay between 6,500 and 10,000 dollars to have a display table at an event lasting just three hours which provides them with visibility to the international press

However, the sheer size of the MWC means that the calendar of events is incredibly varied. Showstoppers, for example, is one of the collateral events around the MWC, which feeds off of it in the best way. Last Sunday, more than 800 journalists from 54 countries met at the University of Barcelona to learn about the products and innovations of a group of tech companies that pay between 6,500 and 10,000 dollars to have a display table at an event lasting just three hours which provides them with visibility to the international press. The format consists in offering generous catering and an open bar to the journalists, who, drink in hand, participate in a kind of elevator pitch targeted at the media which the organisers replicates every year in tech fairs all over the world (CES, NAB, IFA, etc.). A similar format was proposed by MobileFocus Global, organised by the US company PepCom Media, which provides its exhibitors (which pay between 5,500 and 11,000 dollars to participate) with the presence of more than 400 accredited journalists, and which consisted in a party held at the Hotel Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos from 7 to 10 in the evening.

Some events are as explicitly named as DrinkEntrepreneurs (more than 200 entrepreneurs who met to drink and debate Tuesday evening), and others are for-pay only. Some of them, like IoT Stars, cost 35 to 75 euros, while some of the most exclusive events require tickets to be purchased at prices that easily soar to several hundred euros but come with sumptuous spreads and virtually unlimited drinks. Not only do these prices finance the event itself but they also filter out the merely curious, journalists or low-flying nerds, guaranteeing, according to their promoters, that anyone there is truly part of the industry elite.

In the city of parties, there are still recollections of the event held in the 2014 edition, when Mark Zuckerberg and Jan Koum, the creator of Whatsapp, celebrated in high style the purchase agreement of the messaging app for the stratospheric figure of 19 billion dollars

Yet another matter are the corporate parties thrown by the major companies in the sector, from Twitter and Facebook to Samsung, whose high costs fit within their public relations budgets. These events ensure a more effective, lasting impact with their partners and stakeholders. They can be attended by invitation only and often fly under the media radar.

Although not always. In the city of parties, there are still recollections of the event held in the 2014 edition, when Mark Zuckerberg and Jan Koum, the creator of Whatsapp, celebrated in high style the purchase agreement of the messaging app for the stratospheric figure of 19 billion dollars. They did so in the now-vanished party hall Boujis on Tuset Street at an exclusive party which was supposed to be secret and ended up spreading like wildfire through the media, with video posts, no less. And in the 2016 edition, Zuckerberg bade the city farewell by celebrating his wife’s birthday with friends at the Cotton House Hotel. These friends included Gerard Piqué and Shakira. Piqué tweeted about it and Zuckerberg posted it on Facebook, logically.

But in the recent editions of the MWC, the presence of major industry magnates has been on the wane, since they prefer to send their emissaries with less stellar names. The dearth of big names is offset by some companies that invite their own media stars. One example is McLaren, which invited the race car driver Fernando Alonso to give a talk on Tuesday the 27th along with the executive director of the brand, Zack Brown, on the merger of Formula 1 and mobile technology. This talk was followed by a party in a secret venue which lasted until the wee hours of the night.

Outside the official parties, there are also more private, smaller-scale gatherings on the days of the congress, where recently-signed agreements are celebrated or the loose ends of daytime business are tied up. The details of these celebrations are rarely shared publicly, and some of them even require the participants to leave all their tech devices before entering the premises, a somewhat ironic twist. The MWC is drawing to a close in an edition that is shaping up to be the most successful to date, and to many of the participants the intensity of these days will also come with a hangover that, in the best-case scenario, may yet be productive.

The MWC afterparties complement the event’s busy programme

The off-MWC fills the city with parties and parallel events that allow the participants to interact in a fun environment and engage in the most fashionable activity: networking

T

The Mobile World Congress (MWC), one of the global meccas of mobile communications, cannot ignore the importance of in-person communication either, the kind that requires no more technology than our own senses. The possibility of shaking hands and looking at our interlocutor’s eyes is crucial even at an event that is about and for technology, where networking is as important as the hackneyed concept of disruption.

Similar to what happens at other major events hosted in Barcelona (one good example is the Sónar music festival and the myriad activities held around it, known as Off-Sónar), the MWC generates a bustling calendar of parallel social events on the same days as the congress which are more or less associated with its official programme. They range from institutional events strictly by invitation only, where the security is extreme (like the opening dinner for the authorities attended by the King, which has caused such a buzz in the news these days) to parties thrown by the major multinationals which are gatherings of the industry crème de la crème. Some are sponsored by the large brands participating in the fair, while others are organised by independent promoters, who take advantage of the fact that the most influential players in the global industry have flocked to the city to foster in-person contacts in a more relaxed and informal setting than the fair itself.

The majority of the most sought-after and best-equipped spaces in the city are reserved for one of the multiple events which extend the feverish daytime activity into the night and allow the formality of the congress to fade amidst drinks, music and relaxed conversations that allow the participants to engage in more relaxed and human interactions

Much of the economic impact generated by the 108,000 participants in the MWC (471 million euros and 13,000 temporary workers, according to the organisers) has to do with these parallel activities. Thus, the Catalan Federation of Restaurant and Music Activities (FECASARM) predicts earnings of 121 million euros by restaurants and nightlight spots, 4.5% more than in the previous edition.

The majority of the most sought-after and best-equipped spaces in the city are reserved for one of the multiple events which extend the feverish daytime activity into the night and allow the formality of the congress to fade amidst drinks, music and relaxed conversations that allow the participants to engage in more relaxed and human interactions. However, these social gatherings even further highlight the lack of parity among the members of the tech community, with an overwhelming majority of men. The community is plural, however, and also fits in such specific events as the cocktail held last Monday to present the application of blockchain technology to benefit the LGBT community, along with meetings devoted to the still-small community of female creative directors, such as the one to be held this afternoon [on Thursday, March 1] under the slogan Ladies, Wine & Design.

FOUR YEARS FROM NOW (4YFN) BECAMES INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT 

The increasing prominence of the Four Years From Now (4YFN) platform, which hosts the entire start-up ecosystem, has its own circuit of events meant to get entrepreneurs in the sector in touch with investors and companies interested in backing their budding projects. They are called the start-up pitchers: young entrepreneurs from the start-ups meet with business angels who are looking for projects to finance.

Last Sunday, more than 800 journalists from 54 countries met at the University of Barcelona to learn about the products and innovations of a group of tech companies that pay between 6,500 and 10,000 dollars to have a display table at an event lasting just three hours which provides them with visibility to the international press

However, the sheer size of the MWC means that the calendar of events is incredibly varied. Showstoppers, for example, is one of the collateral events around the MWC, which feeds off of it in the best way. Last Sunday, more than 800 journalists from 54 countries met at the University of Barcelona to learn about the products and innovations of a group of tech companies that pay between 6,500 and 10,000 dollars to have a display table at an event lasting just three hours which provides them with visibility to the international press. The format consists in offering generous catering and an open bar to the journalists, who, drink in hand, participate in a kind of elevator pitch targeted at the media which the organisers replicates every year in tech fairs all over the world (CES, NAB, IFA, etc.). A similar format was proposed by MobileFocus Global, organised by the US company PepCom Media, which provides its exhibitors (which pay between 5,500 and 11,000 dollars to participate) with the presence of more than 400 accredited journalists, and which consisted in a party held at the Hotel Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos from 7 to 10 in the evening.

Some events are as explicitly named as DrinkEntrepreneurs (more than 200 entrepreneurs who met to drink and debate Tuesday evening), and others are for-pay only. Some of them, like IoT Stars, cost 35 to 75 euros, while some of the most exclusive events require tickets to be purchased at prices that easily soar to several hundred euros but come with sumptuous spreads and virtually unlimited drinks. Not only do these prices finance the event itself but they also filter out the merely curious, journalists or low-flying nerds, guaranteeing, according to their promoters, that anyone there is truly part of the industry elite.

In the city of parties, there are still recollections of the event held in the 2014 edition, when Mark Zuckerberg and Jan Koum, the creator of Whatsapp, celebrated in high style the purchase agreement of the messaging app for the stratospheric figure of 19 billion dollars

Yet another matter are the corporate parties thrown by the major companies in the sector, from Twitter and Facebook to Samsung, whose high costs fit within their public relations budgets. These events ensure a more effective, lasting impact with their partners and stakeholders. They can be attended by invitation only and often fly under the media radar.

Although not always. In the city of parties, there are still recollections of the event held in the 2014 edition, when Mark Zuckerberg and Jan Koum, the creator of Whatsapp, celebrated in high style the purchase agreement of the messaging app for the stratospheric figure of 19 billion dollars. They did so in the now-vanished party hall Boujis on Tuset Street at an exclusive party which was supposed to be secret and ended up spreading like wildfire through the media, with video posts, no less. And in the 2016 edition, Zuckerberg bade the city farewell by celebrating his wife’s birthday with friends at the Cotton House Hotel. These friends included Gerard Piqué and Shakira. Piqué tweeted about it and Zuckerberg posted it on Facebook, logically.

But in the recent editions of the MWC, the presence of major industry magnates has been on the wane, since they prefer to send their emissaries with less stellar names. The dearth of big names is offset by some companies that invite their own media stars. One example is McLaren, which invited the race car driver Fernando Alonso to give a talk on Tuesday the 27th along with the executive director of the brand, Zack Brown, on the merger of Formula 1 and mobile technology. This talk was followed by a party in a secret venue which lasted until the wee hours of the night.

Outside the official parties, there are also more private, smaller-scale gatherings on the days of the congress, where recently-signed agreements are celebrated or the loose ends of daytime business are tied up. The details of these celebrations are rarely shared publicly, and some of them even require the participants to leave all their tech devices before entering the premises, a somewhat ironic twist. The MWC is drawing to a close in an edition that is shaping up to be the most successful to date, and to many of the participants the intensity of these days will also come with a hangover that, in the best-case scenario, may yet be productive.