The chief executive of one of the world’s largest technology conferences resigned Saturday, after his remarks about the war between Israel and Hamas sparked a boycott that led many speakers and companies to pull out of the gathering.
Organizers of the Web Summit, which attracted more than 70,000 participants last year, said the event would still take place in Lisbon next month and that a new CEO would be named soon.
Paddy Cosgrave, the Irish entrepreneur who founded the Web Summit and has run the event since 2009, has announced his departure after a slew of companies, including Google, Meta, Amazon and Intel, withdrew from the event following Cosgrave’s comments.
Last week, he wrote on
“War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be denounced for what they are,” Cosgrave wrote, referring to the wave of Israeli attacks on Gaza after the violence committed by Hamas.
The statement sparked outrage, with venture capitalists, Israeli startup founders and major tech companies all pulling out of the Web Summit, an annual conference that has brought together some of the industry’s top executives and companies for 14 years.
David Marcus, a former Facebook executive who oversaw the company’s cryptocurrency project, was among those who criticized Cosgrave: write on: “Saddened by your ill-informed position. You could have taken a more nuanced position, condemning these atrocities and calling for restraint. That would have been acceptable. You chose to support the terrorists. As such, I do not will never attend/sponsor/speak at one of your events again.
As the boycott movement gained momentum, Cosgrave attempted to walk back his comments. with a post on X: “We are devastated by the terrible killings and number of innocent civilian casualties in Israel and Gaza. We condemn the Hamas attacks and express our deepest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones. We hope for peaceful reconciliation.”
But he then reiterated his earlier remark, saying: “To repeat: war crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies and must be exposed for what they are.” »
As the event withdrew further and further, Cosgrave issued an apology in hopes of containing the fallout. He wrote: “I understand that what I said, the timing of what I said and the way it was presented caused deep hurt to many people. »
However, the pressure continued to mount and on Saturday, Cosgrave announced that he was stepping down as Web Summit leader. “Unfortunately, my personal comments have become a distraction from the event, our team, our sponsors, our startups, and the people participating,” he wrote on the event’s website.
The Web Summit was initially held in Dublin, but moved in 2015 to Lisbon.
In his apology, Cosgrave wrote that he “unequivocally” supported Israel’s right to defend itself, adding that “like so many figures around the world, I also believe that in defending itself, Israel should adhere to international law and the Geneva Conventions – that is, do not engage.” war crimes.”