Web Summit Faces Backlash Over Founder’s Comments On Israel-Hamas Conflict


Paddy Cosgrave’s Criticism of Israel’s Actions Sparks Outrage and Boycott

A controversy has erupted in the tech community surrounding Web Summit, a prominent tech conference brand that organizes events worldwide. The founder and figurehead of Web Summit, Paddy Cosgrave, has come under fire for his public comments on the Israel-Hamas conflict. Founders, investors, and others from the Israeli tech industry have expressed outrage over Cosgrave’s criticism of Israel’s retaliatory actions.

Key Takeaway

The founder of Web Summit, Paddy Cosgrave, faces significant backlash and boycott from the Israeli tech community due to his critical comments on Israel’s actions during the ongoing conflict with Hamas.

The fallout from Cosgrave’s comments has quickly gained traction, overshadowing the upcoming Web Summit event in Lisbon next month. The incident also sheds light on the willingness of the Israeli tech industry to sever ties in the face of public opinion in this highly polarizing conflict.

The controversy began when Cosgrave, who was in Doha, Qatar at the time, posted a table on social media showcasing the human cost of the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, the table omitted recent events and casualties. This sparked a heated debate, but Cosgrave did not provide an update or address the attacks in Israel.

As the controversy escalated, prominent figures in the tech industry voiced their opposition to Cosgrave’s stance. Notably, David Marcus, a fintech entrepreneur and Meta executive, announced that he would no longer attend, sponsor, or speak at any Web Summit event. Keith Rabois, a partner at Founders Fund, expressed his refusal to work with anyone who participated in the conference in Qatar.

In addition to individual boycotts, Israeli tech companies started withdrawing their participation. Ori Goshen, the co-founder and co-CEO of AI21 Labs, announced on LinkedIn that he would no longer be giving a keynote at Web Summit, condemning Cosgrave’s response as abhorrent. The Israeli ambassador to Portugal, Dor Shapiro, also weighed in, stating that Israel would not participate in the conference due to Cosgrave’s statements.

Despite Cosgrave’s attempt to backtrack on his statement and express condolences for the loss of innocent lives, critics remained skeptical. Some pointed out his previous likes on Twitter, which appeared to support one side of the conflict. This ongoing controversy has led Garry Tan, the head of Y Combinator, to cancel his appearance at Web Summit.

Web Summit has issued a statement acknowledging the cancellations and expressing sympathy for the loss of life in Israel and Gaza. The organization emphasized its mission to connect people and ideas from around the world and hoped for peaceful reconciliation. Nonetheless, the backlash has put a dent in preparation for this year’s event, which is expected to attract around 70,000 attendees.

The incident demonstrates the divisive nature of the Israel-Hamas conflict and its impact on the tech community, highlighting the challenges of balancing personal opinions with the goal of fostering global connections and knowledge exchange.

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