Web Summit to take place as planned after Paddy Cosgrave resignation

Event management group scrambles to limit damage as departing chief executive concedes comments on Israel-Hamas conflict had become ‘distraction’

Web Summit will proceed in Lisbon next month as planned, a spokesman said, despite the abrupt resignation of chief executive and cofounder Paddy Cosgrave over the weekend.

One source in the tech sector said it appeared the resignation of Mr Cosgrave had stemmed what was becoming a stream of companies pulling out of the conference.

Mr Cosgrave announced on Saturday that he was resigning as chief executive of Web Summit with “immediate effect”, as his personal comments had “become a distraction”, adding he wanted to “apologise again for any hurt I have caused”.

The company has been grappling with backlash to social media posts from Mr Cosgrave, which has seen a number of the event’s highest profile sponsors announcing that they were withdrawing from the event. They included tech giants Intel, Siemens, Meta, Google, Amazon Web Services, as well as Irish payments group Stripe. A number of high profile speakers have also withdrawn.


Last Tuesday, the Irish tech entrepreneur issued a lengthy apology where he accepted earlier comments on the Israel-Hamas conflict several days before had caused “profound hurt”.

In those comments the previous Friday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Cosgrave had said he was “shocked at the rhetoric and actions” of western leaders in support of Israel, “with the exception in particular of Ireland’s Government, who for once are doing the right thing”.

“War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are,” he wrote.

Mr Cosgrave’s comments on the conflict drew sharp criticism from Israel, as well as prominent Israeli and US figures in the tech and start-up sectors.

In a separate X post on the same day as his apology, taking issue with Amit Karp, one of the tech investors who had criticised his earlier comments, Mr Cosgrave said: “In the last 24 hours, while nine investors cancelled, 35 new investors registered. Two media cancelled, but more than 50 media requested media passes. Oh and somehow we sold more tickets than any other Monday in 2023.”

Those remarks were seen as unrepentant and, according to industry sources, were instrumental in the decision of, first, Intel and then others to walk away from the event.

Mr Cosgrave owns 81 per cent of Manders Terrace Ltd, the company behind the Web Summit, which is scheduled to run between November 13th and 16th in Lisbon. Seventy thousand tickets have been sold for the event.

In an internal message sent to staff on Saturday, Web Summit sought to reassure employees that there was “no risk” to their job or the company’s long-term security.

“Once again, we are facing a challenge, it is within our collective capabilities to stay true to what we do best and deliver world-class global events and experiences,” the message said.

“The entire leadership team is focused on how they can support you through this and beyond continuing this company’s extraordinary growth and delivering world-class events.”

The company, which employs more than 300 staff and has its headquarters in Dartry, south Dublin, had €11.5 million in assets in 2021. It had a turnover of €31 million and €19 million in cash, according to most recent financial accounts filed last year.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times