Paddy Cosgrave, founder and CEO of Europe’s largest annual technology conference, Web Summit, resigned on Saturday in an attempt to calm controversy over comments he made regarding the war between Israel and Hamas.
His departure came after several major companies withdrew from this year’s event, scheduled to be held from November 13 to 16 in Lisbon.
Cosgrave, an Irish businessman who co-founded Web Summit in 2009, faced significant backlash for criticizing Western support for Israel’s military response to the October 7 attack by the militant group Hamas, which killed 1,400 people.
“War crimes are war crimes, even when committed by allies,” Cosgrave said books on social media on October 13, in reference to ongoing Israeli air strikes and blockade of the Gaza Strip, which the United Nations has warned could lead to mass starvation for the 2.3 million people living there. Cosgrave later followed up with a message condemning the Hamas attack.
Amid mounting criticism from top tech figures and investors, Cosgrave posted a message statement on the Web Summit blog on Tuesday to apologize and clarify his position.
“I unreservedly condemn the vicious, disgusting and brutal Hamas attack on October 7. “I also call for the unconditional release of all hostages,” he wrote. “I unequivocally support Israel’s right to exist and defend itself… “I also believe that, in defending itself, Israel must abide by international law and the Geneva Conventions – that is, not commit war crimes.”
The apology was not enough to influence the list of major sponsors and headliners who… They announced that they would boycott Web Summit event, including tech heavyweights Meta, Google, Intel, Siemens and Amazon.
“Unfortunately, my personal comments have become a distraction from the event, our team, our sponsors, our startups, and the people who attend,” Cosgrave said in a statement. CNN. “I sincerely apologize again for any hurt I caused.”
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