Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave Resigns After Remarks About Israel

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on October 21, 2023

The current CEO of Web Summit, Paddy Cosgrave, has announced his resignation in a statement, saying he would leave his position with “immediate effect.”

The announcement comes with the next Web Summit event set to begin in Lisbon on November 13th, which aims to bring together the largest names in tech and innovation.

However, more than the event, the entire company is facing choppy waters and an uncertain future due to remarks about Israel made by Cosgrave.

“Unfortunately my personal comments have become a distraction from the event, and our team, our sponsors, our startups and the people who attend,” said Cosgrave, who went on to apologize in his statement.

Web Summit is trying to contain the damage, declaring that a new CEO will be appointed as soon as possible and that the event in Lisbon will continue as planned. However, not everyone is optimistic.

Web Summit has survived thus far despite facing challenges year after year. According to a speech made by Cosgrave, the company has faced numerous challenges. They include the company nearly going bankrupt in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID, as well as hundreds of speaker cancellations in 2022, partially due to tensions caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.

However, Cosgrave told the staff that past events are nothing like what is happening now. “You won’t like to hear this, but I think it should be said. I think things will get an awful lot worse over the coming 10 days before they start to get better. But they will get better.”

The entire situation is a major threat to the company’s survival, rivaling or even exceeding COVID. Executives have been assuring employees that they did not need to fear losing their jobs, but the full impact is yet to be known.

Numerous companies have already withdrawn from the event, including Amazon, Google, Meta, Intel, Stripe, and dozens of senior tech executives. There is a good chance that more will follow, even with Cosgrave’s resignation.

The departure of elite companies and executives leaves it up in the air whether the conference will manage to reach its 70,000 attendee expectations or if it will be able to provide full programming.

While a Web Summit spokesperson did say they expected to run a full program, it is not just companies and tech executives pulling away. Comedian Amy Poehler, as well as Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and rapper LL Cool J, have all disappeared from the website since the remarks. And they are not the only ones.

Web Summit will not reveal the precise number of speakers and attendees as of now, stating “privacy and confidentiality” as reasons, but there will certainly be a dip in numbers.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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