Irish entrepreneur Paddy Cosgrave has resigned as CEO of Web Summit with "immediate effect" due to the controversy surrounding his tweets on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Several tech giants pulled out of the upcoming Web Summit in Lisbon next month after Cosgrave condemned Israel's assault on Gaza and said he was "shocked" by the rhetoric and actions of Western leaders.
"War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are," Cosgrave wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
He subsequently unreservedly apologized after the comments received significant backlash.
Several high-profile tech companies pulled out of Web Summit in response to the comments, including Google, Meta, Amazon, and Irish-owned Stripe.
Cosgrave announced his resignation as Websummit CEO on Saturday, stating that his comments had become "a distraction" ahead of the event next month.
"Unfortunately, my personal comments have become a distraction from the event, and our team, our sponsors, our start-ups and the people who attend," Cosgrave said in a statement on Saturday. "I sincerely apologize again for any hurt I have caused."
A spokesperson for Web Summit has confirmed that the event will go ahead as planned between November 13 and 16 in Lisbon, despite the significant number of high-profile withdrawals in recent days.
The spokesperson additionally confirmed that Web Summit will appoint a new CEO as soon as possible.
The Irish Times reports that the company circulated an internal message on Saturday reassuring staff that there was "no risk" to their jobs or the long-term future of Web Summit.
Cosgrave owns 81% of Web Summit, according to accounts filed in 2022.
He issued an apology this week, stating "unequivocally" that Israel had the 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," Cosgrave 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.
"Like so many figures globally, I also believe that, in defending itself, Israel should adhere to international law and the Geneva Conventions.
Cosgrave also condemned Hamas' "evil, disgusting and monstrous October 7 attack" and called for the "unconditional" release of all hostages.
However, his apology was not enough to prevent a flurry of pull-outs from next month's Web Summit.
Actor Jillian Anderson and comedian Amy Poehler, who were both due to speak at the event, have pulled out, while other major companies such as Intel and Siemens have also withdrawn.
Israeli Ambassador to Portugal Dor Shapira described Cosgrave's initial comments as "outrageous statements" and called on companies to pull out of the upcoming Web Summit in Lisbon.
Founded by Corgrave in 2009, Web Summit is the largest technology conference in Europe and initially took place in Dublin before moving to Lisbon in 2015.