Web Summit chief resigns after Israel comments furore

Irish entrepreneur and Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave photographed at Web Summit Rio 2023 on May 1, 2023
Irish entrepreneur and Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave photographed at Web Summit Rio 2023 on May 1, 2023.
Source: AFP

The organiser of the Web Summit, one of the tech sector’s leading events, announced his resignation Saturday following a backlash over his online posts following the Hamas attacks on Israel.

“Unfortunately, my personal comments have become a distraction from the event,” Paddy Cosgrave of Ireland explained in a brief statement sent to AFP.

“I sincerely apologise again for any hurt I have caused,” added the co-founder of the tech mega gathering created in 2009 in Dublin but held in Lisbon since 2016.

A spokesperson for the organisation said: “Web Summit will appoint a new CEO as soon as possible, and Web Summit 2023 in Lisbon will go ahead as planned.”

This year’s edition from November 13 to 16, is set to bring together some 2,300 startups and more than 70,000 participants, say organisers.

Several companies, including tech giants Google and Meta, which is behind Facebook and Instagram, as well as event headliners have announced they are boycotting the gathering since Cosgrave’s remarks.

He had written on X, formerly Twitter, that he was “shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many Western leaders & governments” in support of Israel.

“War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are,” he wrote on October 13.

Since shock Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, which left 1,400 dead, Israel has launched devastating air and ground bombardments of Gaza. The Hamas authorities say 4,385 people have died.

The boycott by Meta and Google followed other exits by companies and tech figures, including Intel, Siemens and US comedian Amy Poehler and X-Files actor Gillian Anderson.

Source: AFP

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