Web Summit, a platform that hosts an annual technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal, announced that it has appointed former Wikimedia Foundation boss Katherine Maher as its new CEO.
The announcement comes a few days after Paddy Cosgrave, the co-founder of Web Summit, faced flak for accusing Israel of committing war crimes and breaching international law following the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel.
Here’s the tweet:
Cosgrave’s remark prompted many multinational companies, including Siemens, Intel, Meta, and others, to withdraw from an upcoming conference.
Cosgrave issued an apology, saying, “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. To anyone who was hurt by my words, I apologise deeply. What is needed at this time is compassion, and I did not convey that. My aim is and always has been to strive for peace. Ultimately, I hope with all my heart that this can be achieved.”
Cosgrave later stepped down from his position at Web Summit.
Who is Katherine Maher?
Katherine led Wikimedia Foundation, the global nonprofit behind Wikipedia, which has over 1 billion monthly users, as CEO for five years.
During her tenure, she brought unprecedented success to the Wikimedia movement and solidified Wikipedia’s reputation as a trusted source of free knowledge worldwide.
Additionally, Katherine is chair of messaging platform Signal Messenger, a non-resident Senior Fellow on Democracy and Technology at the Atlantic Council, and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and a security fellow at the Truman National Security Project.
Katherine Maher says, “I am excited to join Web Summit, because I believe in Web Summit’s mission to connect people and ideas that change the world. In a present where technology is interwoven into every aspect of our lives, and in a future where it represents our greatest hope and our greatest disruptor, Web Summit’s role as a a place for connection and conversation is more urgent than ever. Our immediate task is returning the focus to what we do best: delivering dialogue among all those connected with technological advancement.”
In addition to Katherine Maher, Web Summit also announced the appointment of Damian Kimmelman as a non-executive board director.
Damian is a renowned technology leader and innovator who has co-founded several successful companies and organisations both in the US and Europe, including edtech startup Batelle.com, non profit FoundersPledge.com, business bank Rho.co, and business data provider DueDil.com, now Fullcircl.
“I’m also delighted to be joined on the board of Web Summit by Damian Kimmelman. As well as his extraordinary track record as a founder, Damian will also bring the Web Summit board invaluable insights into the global tech community which will define our shared future,” adds Katherine.
Damian says, “I’ve been attending Web Summit for the past 10 years, and I keep coming back because it’s where I’ve forged so many of my most meaningful business relationships. I couldn’t be more excited to be joining an organisation that has had such an impact on my career.”
Web Summit: Largest tech events
Web Summit runs the world’s largest technology events, connecting people and ideas that change the world.
The events have gathered half a million people across Web Summit in Europe, Web Summit Rio in South America, Collision in North America, Web Summit Qatar in the Middle East and RISE in Asia since its beginnings as a 150-person conference in Dublin in 2009.
Web Summit 2023 will take place from November 13-15, with multiple programmes, including 25-plus stages, PITCH competitions, investors meetings, masterclasses and roundtables, and Mentor Hours. Night Summit events will also be happening in Lisbon.