Tech

Paddy Cosgrave has stepped down as CEO of Web Summit

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As first reported in Bloomberg, Paddy Cosgrave has stepped down as CEO of Web Summit, the now 14-year-old conference business that he cofounded and which has gone on to host one of Europe’s biggest annual tech events, along with four other events around the globe.

The move comes on the heels of remarks Cosgrave made on X last Friday, Oct. 13, after Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on October 7, wherein 1,400 mostly civilians were killed and more than 4,000 were injured. Initially writing that “war crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies,” as Israel planned its counterstrike, Cosgrave’s comments prompted widespread outrage, with numerous venture capitalists and founders vowing to never again speak at one of Web Summit’s events. Among them was David Marcus, the longtime fintech entrepreneur and Meta executive, who last Sunday wrote on X : “Saddened by your ill-informed stance. You could’ve taken a more nuanced one, condemning these atrocities and calling for restraint. That would’ve been acceptable. You chose to support terrorists. As such I’ll never attend/sponsor/speak at any of your events again.”

Cosgrave appeared to walk back his statement this past Monday, writing,  “We are devastated to see the terrible killings and the level of innocent civilian casualties in Israel and Gaza. We condemn the attacks by Hamas and extend our deepest sympathies to everyone who has lost loved ones. We hope for peaceful reconciliation.” But he subsequently dug in his heels, tweeting soon afterward: “To repeat: War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies & should be called out for what they are. I will not relent.”

As pressure mounted, Cosgrave later apologized on Web Summit’s site, writing, “I understand that what I said, the timing of what I said, and the way it has been presented has caused profound hurt to many.”

But the damage was done. In addition to a growing boycott of the event by prominent individuals, a number of corporates also began to drop out of Web Summit, which kicks off its signature show in Lisbon in a little more than three weeks.

Yesterday, Alphabet and Meta said that they were pulling out of the show; before them, Intel, Siemens and Stripe announced they were also dropping out of the program

Web Summit organizers have since issued a statement that will appoint a new CEO as soon as possible and that the show, due to start on Nov. 13, is proceeding as previously scheduled.

“Unfortunately, my personal comments have become a distraction from the event, and our team, our sponsors, our startups and the people who attend,” Cosgrave said in the statement. “I sincerely apologize again for any hurt I have caused.”

Last year, Web Summit attracted more than 70,000 attendees over three days.

We’ve reached out to Web Summit and to Cosgrave for comment.



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