Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of Web Summit, one of Europe’s premier annual technology events, has resigned as CEO. This decision was made after a series of controversial comments made by Cosgrave on Israel and Palestine. In a statement to TechCrunch, Cosgrave expressed his regret, saying: “I am resigning as CEO of Web Summit with immediate effect. Unfortunately, my personal comments have become a distraction for the event, our team, our sponsors, our startups, and the people who attended. I once again sincerely apologize for any harm I may have caused.”
The controversy began when Cosgrave commented on the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, which resulted in significant civilian casualties. His statements drew widespread criticism, leading several venture capitalists, founders and tech figures, including David Marcus, a well-known fintech entrepreneur and CEO of Meta, to vow not to attend future Web Summit events. Despite the fact that Cosgrave tried to explain and apologize for his comments, the negative reaction did not stop.
In response to the controversy, large corporations including Alphabet, Meta, Intel, Siemens, and Stripe announced their refusal to participate in the upcoming Web Summit. However, the conference organizers confirmed that it will take place in Lisbon, Portugal, as scheduled. They also announced plans to appoint a new CEO in the near future. Last year’s Web Summit was attended by more than 70,000 people over three days.