Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave resigns amid controversy over comments between Israel and Hamas

Web Summit employees have been told by executives that their jobs are not currently at risk due to the increasing boycott of the event by major technology companies

In a statement released this afternoon, Mr Cosgrave said: “I am stepping down as CEO of Web Summit with immediate effect.

“Unfortunately, my personal comments created a distraction from the event and our team, our sponsors, our startups and the people in attendance.

“I once again sincerely apologize for the harm I have caused.”

A spokesman for Web Summit confirmed that they will appoint a new CEO as soon as possible and that Web Summit 2023 in Lisbon will take place as planned.

Speaking to staff yesterday, Mr Cosgrave said: “I am truly sorry. My actions have left many of you in a situation or receiving the most hateful and hurtful messages that I believe anyone could receive.

“COVID-19 nearly bankrupted Web Summit in 2020 and 2021. We have endured the last year and suffered more than 200 speaker cancellations, some of which were due to the presence of journalists who many considered pro-Russian and hostile to Ukraine.

“To be fair, it’s nothing compared to what just happened and what lies ahead. You won’t like to hear this, but I think it should be said: I think things are going to get a lot worse in the next 10 days before they start to get better. But they will get better.”

Meanwhile, Web Summit employees have been told by executives that their jobs are not currently at risk due to the growing boycott of the event by major tech companies.

The company employs 200 people at its headquarters in Dublin, out of a total of over 300 people worldwide.

However, employees were also told that this was the biggest threat to the company’s existence since Covid.

The assurances come amid fears about the company’s future as Amazon joined Google, Meta, Intel, Stripe and dozens of senior technology executives in withdrawing from next month’s Lisbon conference over comments made by CEO Paddy Cosgrave about Israel.

Company executives expect more cancellations from the Nov. 13 conference. The event was planned for up to 70,000 people.

A spokesman for the Web Summit could not comment on how many participants are currently expected. On Friday, a company spokesman said the event would continue to offer “a full program.”

Withdrawals continued through Saturday, with Stripe confirming that it will now no longer be present at Web Summit. The Irish-American payments company founded by Patrick and John Collison had said that two of its speakers had left for personal reasons. However, no one from the company will show up.

Influential US marketer and podcaster Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at New York University, also confirmed that he has stepped down as a speaker, while US comedian Amy Poehler, who was due to speak at the event, is also no longer with The List of speakers on the Web Summit website. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and rapper LL Cool J disappeared from the site on Thursday, while Sex Education actress Gillian Anderson confirmed she had pulled out.

In his apology during the week, Mr Cosgrave said: “I understand that what I said, the timing of my statement and the manner in which it was presented, has deeply hurt many.” were hurt, I would like to apologize deeply.

“What is needed at this time is compassion and I have not expressed that. My goal is and always has been to strive for peace.”

When asked for comment on the number of speakers still attending the event next month, a Web Summit spokesperson said he could not comment for “privacy and confidentiality reasons.”

“We are in discussions with several speakers and companies about their presence at the Web Summit,” the spokesperson said.

The Web Summit is currently planning to hold its next event in Qatar in February.

In addition, annual events are held in Toronto and Rio, and there are plans to revive the Rise conference in Hong Kong in 2025.

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