The Web Summit will kick off today in Lisbon, Portugal, with some of the biggest names in the global tech industry.

The conference, which has attracted 50,000 guests, will be held in the Feira Internacional de Lisboa and Meo Arena. Attracting the likes of Twilio founder Jeff Lawson, Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and CEO of VaynerMedia, Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups, Y Combinator partner Justin Kan, Facebook's chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer, and Square's chief financial officer Sarah Friar.

The event, which will run from Nov. 7 through Nov. 11, will feature a startup pitch contest, key note speeches, networking events and appearances from musicians Ne-Yo and Tinie Tempah, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and footballer Ronaldinho (Ronaldo de Assis Moreira). Inc.'s editor-in-chief and presedent Eric Schurenberg will also give a keynote speech.

The independent technology conference was first held in Dublin in 2009 and was founded by Irishmen entrepreneur Paddy Cosgrave, former journalist Daire Hickey and David Kelly. Only 25 guests showed up, but some big tech founders from companies like WordPress and Craigslist came out. The next year, the event grew to 400 people and featured the founders of Skype, YouTube, and Twitter. The first events were humble, says Hickey, but the casual networking opportunities during the Web Summit's pub crawls at some of Dublin's watering holes gave startup founders the chance to meet each other and rub shoulders with investors. Over the years, Cosgrave and Hickey have been able to entice the likes of Telsa and Space-X founder Elon Musk, skateboarder Tony Hawk, and Tinder founder Sean Rad and Ford Motors chairman Bill Ford.

"We felt left out of the Silicon Valley community, so we wanted to build a platform to bring startup founders and investors from the U.S. and Europe together in one place," says Hickey.

In 2011, Uber founder Travis Kalanick successfully made a deal with Menlo Ventures for a round of funding during a pub crawl, which helped grow the legend of Web Summit as a place where anything can happen.

By 2015, the Web Summit attracted 40,000 people and brought in $2 million media partnership deals. For this year, the event outgrew its Irish roots, Hickey says, and they decided to hold the event in Lisbon to accommodate more people.

Hickey and Cosgrave also have events in Hong Kong, New Orleans and other cities throughout the year.

When asked what he believes the most important aspect of Web Summit is, Hickey says networking.

Before Cosgrave and Hickey started the Web Summit, Cosgrave was giving a speech at Facebook and he overheard a group of people making plans to go to a breakfast networking session after a long night of doing the same thing. Cosgrave asked why they were going to do more networking: "A guy turned around to Paddy and said, 'Silicon Valley doesn't thrive because nerds sit on their ass all day. They go out and network and meet people.'"

Published on: Nov 7, 2016