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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Alamy Stock Photo Paddy Cosgrave (file photo)
mass withdrawal

Paddy Cosgrave resigns as Web Summit CEO amid controversy over Israel comments

A host of companies and speakers have withdrawn from the event following comments made by Cosgrave.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 21st 2023, 4:30 PM

PADDY COSGRAVE HAS resigned as chief executive officer of the Web Summit amid ongoing controversy over comments he made about the Israel-Hamas war.

Earlier, Amazon became the latest large multinational corporation to pull out of the conference.

In a statement released today, Cosgrave said: “I am resigning as CEO of Web Summit with immediate effect.

“Unfortunately my personal comments have become a distraction from the event, and our team, our sponsors, our startups and the people who attend.

“I sincerely apologise again for any hurt I have caused.”

A spokesperson for Web Summit confirmed that the conference will still take place in Lisbon as planned from 13 to 16 November.

Earlier today a spokesperson for Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing wing, said it would not attend the conference.

This follows similar statements from Meta, Google, Siemens, Intel and others. A host of other companies and speakers have also withdrawn from the event.

The slew of withdrawals come after Cosgrave made comments about the war between Israel and Hamas, which he subsequently apologised for after some international tech backers pulled out of this year’s conference.

Cosgrave earlier this month said on X, formerly Twitter, he was “shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many Western leaders & governments”, who have supported Israel. “War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies.”

He later condemned the attacks by Hamas and expressed his “hope for peaceful reconciliation”.

However, the Israeli ambassador to Portugal, Dor Shapira, described the statement as “outrageous”, and said he had written to the Mayor of Lisbon informing him that Israeli companies will not be attending this year’s Web Summit.


Cosgrave initially defended his comments, saying he “is not going to relent”.

However, on Tuesday he issued an apology for the “timing” of his opinion and “the way it has been presented”.

“I unreservedly condemn Hamas’ evil, disgusting and monstrous October 7 attack. I also call for the unconditional release of all hostages,” he said in a statement published on the Web Summit site.

“I unequivocally support Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. I unequivocally support a two-state solution.

“Like so many figures globally, I also believe that, in defending itself, Israel should adhere to international law and the Geneva Conventions – ie, not commit war crimes… No country should breach these laws, even if atrocities were committed against it.”

Cosgrave said he had tried to echo the sentiments of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who urged Israel to avoid harming civilians.

With reporting by Órla Ryan, Cormac Fitzgerald, Jane Matthews and Mairead Maguire