Paddy Cosgrave returns as Web Summit CEO six months after resigning

Founder stepped down after flight of sponsors from tech event following his comments on Israel-Hamas conflict

Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave on Monday returned as its chief executive, six months after resigning from the top job following a backlash over his comments on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Mr Cosgrave drew criticism after posting on social media platform X that “war crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies”, referring to Israel’s response in Gaza following the Hamas attacks on October 7th.

“When I stepped back last year, it was the first time I had taken time off in 15 years”, Mr Cosgrave said on Monday. “I took the time to reconnect with old Web Summit friends and I listened to what they had to say and what they wanted from Web Summit.”

Mr Cosgrave owns a majority stake in Web Summit, which organises one of the world’s largest tech conferences every year. The event typically attracts about 70,000 participants, drawing speakers from global tech companies and start-ups, as well as politicians.


After his October comments, Mr Cosgrave apologised and resigned from his position as several companies, including Google and Meta announced their withdrawal from last year’s conference in Portugal in November.

Former Wikimedia Foundation chief executive Katherine Maher took over the top job but stepped down last month to become the chief executive of National Public Radio.

Web Summit said it plans to make its conference more convivial and community-focused, and is testing software for connecting attendees.

“Over the last year, we have tested small prototype meet-ups for attendees in similar industries like product engineers or marketing leads,” the company said. – Reuters