Web Summit clarifies leadership team after Paddy Cosgrave’s departure

Events officer Craig Becker expected to take leading role in advance of flagship Lisbon event

Web Summit has clarified the team of executives who will lead the company in advance of its flagship event in Lisbon next month, pending the appointment of a new chief executive after founder and majority owner Paddy Cosgrave resigned from the role last week.

In a post published on its website on Tuesday, the company said the management team comprises chief events officer Craig Becker; chief marketing technology officer Mike Sexton; chief operating officer Nida Shah; chief financial officer Patrick Kirwan; and chief commercial officer Kevin McDonald.

A spokesman for Web Summit declined to say who the key decision-maker will be in the lead-up to the conference, which begins on November 13th.

However, The Irish Times understands Mr Becker, who has been involved with the company for 11 years, is expected take a leading role over the coming weeks with Web Summit’s focus firmly on the smooth operation of the convention at the Altice Arena in the Portuguese capital.


The event has been the subject of huge controversy after a number of tech giants including Google and Meta pulled out following comments from Mr Cosgrave on X, formerly Twitter, around the Israel-Hamas war. In the post, Mr Cosgrave said he was “shocked at the rhetoric and actions” of western leaders in support of Israel, “with the exception in particular of Ireland’s Government, who for once are doing the right thing”.

Mr Cosgrave apologised and clarified his remarks but announced his resignation on Saturday with “immediate effect”, admitting that his personal comments had “become a distraction from the event, and our team, our sponsors, our start-ups and the people who attend. I sincerely apologise again for any hurt I have caused.”

The businessman would also resign from the board of Manders Terrace, the entity behind the Web Summit group, and would file his notice of resignation with the Companies Registration Office within the next 14 days, as he is obligated under the Companies Act, a company spokesman said.

How Paddy Cosgrave lost his grip on Web Summit

Listen | 20:21

Mr Cosgrave, who holds more than 81 per cent of the company’s shares, is still listed as a director of the entity which he co-founded with former business partners David Kelly and Daire Hickey in 2012. The other board members are listed as Mr Sexton, Ms Shah and US executive Nathan Hubbard along with company secretary Adam Connon.

A Web Summit spokesman declined to say whether a board meeting would be held in advance of the Lisbon event and who would represent the executive team in lieu of Mr Cosgrave’s attendance. He also declined to say whether the company would undertake a strategic review of its corporate governance structures in light of the recent controversies.

In the statement on its website, Web Summit said: “Over the weekend, Paddy Cosgrave resigned as CEO and from the Web Summit board due to his personal comments, for which he has apologised. Pending the appointment of a new CEO, our highly experienced management team is leading our global staff of 350 people in focusing once again on creating an event at which the companies that are building the future can meet, connect and interact with investors, innovators, global businesses, the media and a wider audience of people interested in the future of tech.”

When questioned by The Irish Times on Monday, the company declined to give further details, saying it had a strong executive team and an independent board of directors who would be leading staff.

In the current leadership vacuum, Mr Becker is expected to be at the forefront of decision-making as the flagship tech conference approaches.

Web Summit said in the post that the events officer “will continue to oversee and lead on all matters relating to the operation of Web Summit 2023 in Lisbon”.

It said: “Before joining Web Summit, Craig was involved in Live 8, The Brit Awards, London 2012 Summer Olympics, and the Fifa Club World Cup. For 12 years, he site-managed the Hard Rock Calling and Wireless festivals in London’s Hyde Park. He has also worked on projects in Regent’s Park, Kensington Gardens and Greenwich Park; consulted for the 2022 World Cup; and been an important component in the success of other major music events, including V festival and numerous concerts with Foo Fighters, Blur and Beyoncé.

Patrick Kirwan, chief financial officer of Web Summit, is among the more experienced figures at the company. He joined the company in 2018 from CarTrawler where he served as head of finance and then finance director from 2009 to 2018.

Mr Kirwan is also listed as a director of a company called Web Summit Ventures Management Ltd along with Mr Cosgrave, registered at Web Summit’s headquarters. The entity, incorporated in 2022, is a management vehicle associated with two funds established by Mr Cosgrave, one to invest in start-ups and the other to invest in later stage companies.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times