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Web Summit CEO Cosgrave returns 6 months after resigning

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

Cosgrave drew criticism after posting on social media platform X on October 13 that “war crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies,” referring to Israel’s response in Gaza following the Hamas attacks on October 7.

“When I stepped back last year, it was the first time I had taken time off in 15 years,” Cosgrave said today.

“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,” he added.

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 startups, as well as politicians.

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

Former Wikimedia Foundation CEO 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 meetups for attendees in similar industries like product engineers or marketing leads,” the company said.

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