Marking what can be seen as the first casualty of Hamas-Israel war commentary in the tech world, Paddy Cosgrave, the CEO and co-founder of the annual tech extravaganza Web Summit, tendered his resignation following a storm of controversy ignited by his remarks on the Israel-Hamas war.
The comments caused significant consternation leading to a cascade of cancellations from tech titans like Alphabet, Meta, and Amazon, shedding a shadow over the upcoming event slated for November 13 to November 16 in Lisbon, Portugal.
Earlier in the week, Cosgrave had taken to the social media platform, X (formerly Twitter), to voice his personal condemnation of Israel's counteractions in Gaza, following a devastating attack by Hamas on October 7.
His firm stance on what he labeled as war crimes by Israel sparked a conflagration of rebuke and led to a boycott by numerous influential individuals and corporations within the tech community.
The backlash reached a boiling point when David Marcus, a seasoned fintech entrepreneur and Meta executive, publicly denounced Cosgrave's stance, vowing to sever all affiliations with Web Summit events henceforth.
This sentiment was mirrored by a growing list of individuals and corporations, leading to a burgeoning boycott that threatened to significantly tarnish the allure of the event.
In a bid to quell the furor, Cosgrave issued an apology on Web Summit's blog, acknowledging the profound hurt his remarks had elicited and emphasising the necessity for compassion amid the catastrophic circumstances in Israel and Gaza.
However, the apology seemed to do little in mending the rift, as more corporations like Intel, Siemens, and Stripe joined the boycott.
Facing a mounting pressure, Cosgrave finally announced his resignation as the CEO of Web Summit. He reiterated that his personal comments had unfortunately become a distraction from the core essence of the event, expressing his sincere apologies for any hurt caused.
The Web Summit organisers have confirmed that they are in the process of appointing a new CEO “as soon as possible” and assured that Web Summit 2023 in Lisbon will go ahead as planned, notwithstanding the whirlwind of controversy surrounding Cosgrave's resignation.