One of Europe’s largest tech events, Web Summit, has appointed a new CEO just weeks before its flagship tech conference starts in Lisbon, after its former CEO and cofounder was forced to resign over politically sensitive comments about the Israel-Hamas war.
Katherine Maher, who was previously CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, has been announced as the event company’s new CEO.
Former CEO Paddy Cosgrave resigned earlier this month after comments he made on X — calling Israel’s military action against Hamas “war crimes” — led major speakers and sponsors of the event to pull out.
Sponsors including Meta, Google, Stripe and Intel, as well as several high-profile speakers, including Y Combinator’s Garry Tan and Sequoia Capital partner Ravi Gupta, withdrew their participation and support from the event.
Cosgrave later apologised for his comments and stepped down. He still owns 81% of the company, which he founded in 2009.
Now, roughly two weeks before the conference starts, Maher — who has strong diplomatic credentials — is taking over.
“Our immediate task is returning the focus to what we do best: delivering dialogue among all those connected with technological advancement,” she said in a statement.
Web Summit is taking place on November 13-15 in Lisbon. It usually hosts around 70k attendees, and this year hopes to attract 2,600 startups and more than 800 investors.