Web Summit boss Katherine Maher to leave role after three months

US executive replaced cofounder Paddy Cosgrave following his resignation last year

Web Summit chief executive Katherine Maher is stepping down from the company just three months after replacing cofounder Paddy Cosgrave, who resigned from the role following a controversy over his social media output. Ms Maher, a former chief executive of the Wikimedia Foundation, will join US radio network NPR as its chief executive, the organisation said on its website.

In a statement Web Summit said Ms Maher will step down from the role on March 1st, leading the events company through its first conference in Doha, Qatar. She will stay on as non-executive chairwoman of the executive board of the company “into 2024 and beyond”, it said.

“While I’m sad to leave as CEO I am thrilled to contribute in a different way as chair,” Ms Maher said in a statement. “I have absolutely loved leading the Web Summit team. Even in a short space of time I have seen the determination, passion and creativity across teams to continuously deliver incredible events to the world.”

The company also named Craig Becker, Web Summit’s chief events officer, as an executive board member on Wednesday.


Congratulating Ms Maher on her new role, Mr Becker said NPR was one of America’s “most trusted” media institutions and said she had an “immense impact” on Web Summit.

The US executive joined Web Summit as chief executive last October following Mr Cosgrave’s resignation after a series of tweets about the Israel-Hamas conflict led to the withdrawal of a number of key sponsors and attendees just weeks before the company’s flagship conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Tech giants including Google and Meta pulled out following the comments. In the post Mr Cosgrave 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”.

Mr Cosgrave apologised and clarified his remarks but announced his resignation on October 21st with “immediate effect”, admitting that his personal comments had “become a distraction from the event, and our team, our sponsors, our start-ups and the people who attend. I sincerely apologise again for any hurt I have caused.”

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times