Former Wikipedia boss Katherine Maher takes the reigns of Web Summit after her predecessor resigned following backlash for comments on the Israel-Hamas war.
Tech conference giant Web Summit announced its new CEO on Monday. Former Wikipedia boss Katherine Maher takes the reigns after her predecessor resigned following backlash for comments on the Israel-Hamas war.
Her appointment comes as the company hosts its flagship annual event in Lisbon next month, which has seen tech companies and speakers withdraw their participation after former CEO Paddy Cosgrave labelled Israel’s retaliation to the October 7 attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas as "war crimes".
Web Summit co-founder Cosgrave will still have 80 per cent ownership of the company, Euronews Next understands.
Maher led Wikipedia’s non-profit Wikimedia Foundation as CEO for five years and has also worked at UNICEF, the National Democratic Institute, Access Now and the World Bank.
“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 place for connection and conversation is more urgent than ever,” Maher said in a press statement sent to Euronews Next.
“Our immediate task is returning the focus to what we do best: delivering dialogue among all those connected with technological advancement”.
Maher, 40 years old, brings “her ability to bridge the worlds of technology,
humanity, and dialogue needed to shape the future,” Web Summit said.
Despite several companies pulling out of the Lisbon event, which expects up to 70,000 people, there will be a record-breaking 2,600 start-ups from more than 80 countries attending.
Web Summit also announced it appointed tech company co-founder Damian Kimmelman as a non-executive board director.