Mobile industry CEO tells Barcelona not to worry about future of Mobile World Congress in city
"Barcelona ecosystem makes us feel welcome," says John Hoffman
John Hoffman, CEO of mobile industry trade body GSMA, has urged locals not to worry about the future of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in the city, but at the same time told them not to get complacent. "The Barcelona ecosystem makes us feel welcome," he assured in an event on Thursday, the first session of the Barcelona Capital Forum.
Hoffman began by jovially addressing rumours of the congress moving to Madrid. "Good news, we're not going to Madrid. Bad news, we’re going to Dubai," he joked with the attendees.
Hoffman said that he was "not worried" about the MWC's future beyond the current contract in Barcelona which lasts until 2023. "When the time comes, we will find a way to keep moving forward," he said.
The GSMA CEO praised the culture, history, and gastronomy of the Catalan capital, and emphasized the value the startup community brought to the city. Regarding areas for improvement he referred to the difficulty of "finding a balance between lack of trust and overconfidence".
The president of the trade fair organization Fira de Barcelona, Pau Relat, also spoke, urging public-private partnership and encouraging guests to continue to work "to preserve the city's assets".
Hoffman on Fira de Barcelona venue
John Hoffman also referred to Fira de Barcelona's enlargement of their Gran Via venue. Hoffman considered it a "plus" to be able to bring all attendees together in one location, but admitted to being anxious to see if they would be able to fill the space.
"Do we have enough demand to fill the expected big expansion," he asked himself. "I think so, but I'm not sure," he replied. The expected enlargement is expected to increase the gross exhibition area from 240,000 to 300,000 square meters.
Hoffman also celebrated Fira de Barcelona's commitment to using exclusively green energy from this year on. "We love the idea and it has had a great impact on us as event organizers," he said.