Google and Meta pull out of Web Summit over Cosgrave’s Israel-Hamas comments

Intel, Siemens and actor Gillian Anderson previously said they were withdrawing

Google and Facebook-owner Meta have become the latest tech giants to withdraw from this year’s Web Summit, following comments made by chief executive Paddy Cosgrave on the Israel-Hamas conflict. Google was one of the event’s sponsors, while Nick Clegg, Facebook’s president of global affairs, was due to speak at the Lisbon event.

The departures were preceded by Intel and Siemens, who said on Thursday that they would no longer participate in the November gathering.

“We will no longer have a presence at Web Summit” Google said in a statement on Friday.

In a post a week ago on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Cosgrave said he was “shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many western leaders & governments, with the exception in particular of Ireland’s Government, who for once are doing the right thing. War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are.”


He subsequently apologised and said he was withdrawing from the platform for a few days.

Will Gaybrick, chief product officer at the Irish-founded payments platform Stripe, has also pulled out as a speaker in the conference.

In a statement on Thursday, German industrial giant Siemens said “following recent developments” around the Web Summit it had decided not to attend the conference this year.

A spokeswoman for Intel, the US chip manufacturer with a large plant in Leixlip, Co Kildare, confirmed the company “has withdrawn from this year’s Web Summit”.

In response to a request for comment, a spokeswoman for the Web Summit said “is looking forward to welcoming 70,000 attendees from around the world with a full programme this November”.

On Friday, a spokesman for the European Investment Bank said it is currently considering its participation in the event next month.

The spokesman said the EU development bank, which has attended the Web Summit in recent years, had noted Mr Cosgrave’s initial comments as well as his apology.

“We are currently considering our participation in a number of tech events taking place this year, including Web Summit, and will continue to monitor developments in this space,” he said.

Actor Gillian Anderson has also decided to pull out of Web Summit. A spokesperson for G-Spot, the former X-Files actor’s drinks brand, said she had made the decision to withdraw from a slated appearance at the event because the “brands’ values do not align”. Actor Amy Poehler had also been due to appear but no longer featured on Web Summit’s website on Friday evening.

Flint Capital, a Boston-based venture capital fund, has also pulled out of its involvement with the conference, according to one of its partners, Sergey Gribov.

More than 70,000 people were due to attend the tech conference in Lisbon, which takes place next month from November 13th to 16th.

Following his initial social media post, Mr Cosgrave later added the actions of Hamas were “outrageous and disgusting”.

However, his initial comments led several influential figures in the tech sector to state they would not participate in future Web Summit events. Dor Shapira, the Israeli ambassador to Portugal, also said Israel would boycott the event.

The Web Summit was originally set up and held in Dublin before being moved to Lisbon in 2015.

In his apology earlier this week, Mr Cosgrave said he “unequivocally” supported Israel’s right to defend itself.

“I understand that what I said, the timing of what I said, and the way it has been presented has caused profound hurt to many,” he said.

“What is needed at this time is compassion, and I did not convey that. Web Summit has a long history of partnership with Israel and its tech firms, and I am deeply regretful that those friends were hurt by any of what I said,” he said.

“Like so many figures globally, I also believe that, in defending itself, Israel should adhere to international law and the Geneva conventions,” he said.

“My aim is and always has been to strive for peace. Ultimately, I hope with all my heart that this can be achieved,” he said.

Mr Cosgrave said he wanted to reiterate that he unreservedly condemned Hamas’ “evil, disgusting and monstrous October 7 attack”.

“I also call for the unconditional release of all hostages. As a parent, I sympathise deeply with the families of the victims of this appalling act, and mourn for all the innocent lives lost in this and other wars,” he said.

“I have always been anti-war and pro-international law. It is precisely at our darkest moments that we must try to uphold the principles that make us civilised,” he said.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times