Web Summit’s chief marketing officer Mike Sexton set to leave the group

Chief executive Katherine Maher is leaving to take up role in US just three months after replacing Paddy Cosgrave

Mike Sexton, the chief marketing technology officer for Web Summit, is understood to be leaving the group after almost a decade at the company. Web Summit had already announced that Mr Sexton is stepping down from the board at the end of his four-year term and is being replaced by chief events officer Craig Becker.

This news comes just a day after it was revealed that Web Summit’s chief executive Katherine Maher was leaving to head NPR, a radio station in the United States. She is due to step down on March 1st, having taken up the role only three months ago.

It is understood staff were told in recent weeks that Mr Sexton would be leaving the company. He joined as a data scientist in 2014, before working his way up through the leadership ranks.

Web Summit was contacted for comment.


This latest departure will mean more change for Web Summit, which is currently preparing for its first event of the year in Qatar next month. Ms Maher is to stay on until after the event has taken place.

Her announcement this week came as a shock, coming just months after she replaced Paddy Cosgrave as chief executive. Ms Maher was appointed late last year, ahead of the company’s flagship event in Lisbon and following the surprise resignation of Mr Cosgrave, Web Summit’s cofounder.

Mr Cosgrave had stepped back from the company following backlash over comments he made in the wake of the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th. Although Mr Cosgrave had apologised for the remarks, the posts on social media led to a number of sponsors and speakers withdrawing from the event, leaving the team with gaps in its schedule that needed to be hastily plugged.

The former head of the Wikimedia Foundation, Ms Maher had been on stage some years earlier as speaker. Her quick appointment – she was announced as successor about a week after Mr Cosgrave resigned – had raised questions about long-term plans for the company.

The search for a replacement is said to be already under way, although the focus is expected to remain on the Qatar event for now.

The company has refused to speculate on potential successors. Industry watchers have speculated on a return for Mr Cosgrave, who retains more than 80 per cent ownership stake in the company.

The appointments will be made by the board, in which Ms Maher will participate as non-executive chairwoman. It is not clear if Web Summit will seek to promote from within – which would put senior executives such as Mr Becker, chief operating officer Nida Shah and chief financial officer Patrick Kirwan in the line of potential succession.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist