Web Summit co-founders want Paddy Cosgrave to sell his shares

David Kelly and Daire Hickey say they are concerned over risk to 300 jobs

The co-founders of Web Summit have written to the company’s board requesting that former chief executive Paddy Cosgrave sell his stake in the company or face putting more than 300 jobs at risk.

David Kelly and Daire Hickey, who own 7 per cent and 12 per cent respectively of the company behind the Lisbon conference, are understood to have written to the board to express concerns that Mr Cosgrave’s continued ownership of the company was putting its future in danger. They have called on the board to explore all possible avenues, including a sale if necessary.

Mr Cosgrave owns the remaining 81 per cent stake of the company.

The two men co-founded Web Summit in 2009 with Mr Cosgrave, but both have since departed the company and there are legal actions pending in the Irish courts.


Sources confirmed the correspondence to The Irish Times. Web Summit has not yet commented on the reports.

Mr Cosgrave stepped down as chief executive and from the board of the company last week after a backlash arising from his comments made on social media on the conflict in Gaza.

Mr Cosgrave initially posted criticism of Israel’s response in Gaza on X, formerly known as Twitter, on October 13th. “I’m 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,” the post read. “War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are.”

The comments caused Israeli tech companies and investors to withdraw from the event, along with a number of high-profile speakers such as Amy Poehler and Gillian Anderson.

Although Mr Cosgrave issued an apology on X and a lengthier post on the company’s blog the following day, he eventually resigned his position on Saturday as the exodus of big-name companies continued. Intel, Google, Siemens, Meta, Stripe and Amazon Web Services all withdrew their support from the event.

“I am resigning as CEO of Web Summit with immediate effect,” Cosgrave said. “Unfortunately, my personal comments have 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.”

Web Summit is due to take place in Lisbon from November 13th to 16th.