Former Wikimedia Chief Katherine Maher to lead Web Summit as new CEO

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Former Wikimedia Chief Katherine Maher to lead Web Summit as new CEO
©  Wikimedia

Web Summit, one of Europe’s major tech events, has named a new CEO shortly before its primary tech conference begins in Lisbon. This decision follows the resignation of its former CEO and co-founder due to politically sensitive remarks made regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Katherine Maher, previously serving as CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, has been appointed as the new CEO of the event company “Web Summit”.

Paddy Cosgrave, the former CEO, resigned earlier this month following comments he made regarding Israel’s military action against Hamas, which led to the withdrawal of significant speakers and sponsors from the event.

Major sponsors like Meta, Google, Stripe, and Intel, along with prominent speakers such as Y Combinator’s Garry Tan and Sequoia Capital partner Ravi Gupta, withdrew their participation and support from the event in response to Cosgrave’s remarks.


Cosgrave issued an apology for his comments and subsequently resigned. Despite stepping down, he remains the owner of 81% of the company, which he established back in 2009.

With the conference looming just a couple of weeks away, Maher, recognized for her robust diplomatic background, assumes the leadership role.

In a recent statement, Maher expressed, “Our immediate priority is to refocus on our core strength: fostering discussions within the realm of technological progress.”

Scheduled for November 13-15 in Lisbon, Web Summit typically draws approximately 70,000 attendees. This year, it aspires to engage with 2,600 startups and entice over 800 investors.

About Web Summit

Web Summit, founded by Paddy Cosgrave, has ascended to become a cornerstone of the tech industry, drawing attention from various sectors including AI, blockchain, health tech, and many more. The conference boasts an unparalleled ability to attract diverse voices, from startup entrepreneurs seeking exposure to established industry moguls keen on driving change and innovation.

Its success lies in the diverse array of speakers, the majority of whom are industry trailblazers, policymakers, academics, and celebrities who provide insights, expertise, and unique perspectives. These luminaries create an environment ripe for networking, learning, and discovering groundbreaking ideas that shape the future.

What sets Web Summit apart is not only the depth and breadth of its content but also its focus on creating connections. The collision of startups, investors, and industry leaders in a single space propels new collaborations, investment opportunities, and partnerships, fostering an ecosystem of innovation and growth.

Furthermore, the summit offers a unique platform for startups to showcase their products, pitch to investors, and gain visibility in a highly competitive tech landscape. This exposure can be pivotal for the success and growth of emerging businesses.

Web Summit’s influence extends beyond its annual flagship event in Lisbon. The conference has spread its impact globally, organizing sister events such as Collision in North America and RISE in Asia. These gatherings share the same commitment to catalyzing change and advancing technological progress in their respective regions.

The tech landscape is continually evolving, and Web Summit plays a pivotal role in steering this evolution. By bridging gaps, fostering conversations, and fueling collaboration, it remains a guiding light in an ever-expanding tech universe. Its legacy is not only in the ideas exchanged and the deals made but also in the relationships formed and the innovative pathways charted, making it a cornerstone event in the world of technology and innovation.

About Katherine Maher

Katherine Maher is a prominent figure renowned for her leadership acumen and diplomatic prowess in the world of technology and global initiatives. As the former Chief Executive Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation, Maher brought a wealth of experience and a commitment to open knowledge to her role.

During her tenure at Wikimedia, Maher championed the Foundation’s mission to make knowledge freely accessible to the world. Her strategic vision and dedication led to various innovative initiatives aimed at expanding Wikimedia’s reach and ensuring the integrity of information on the platform.

Maher’s background is steeped in international relations, technology, and global policy. She has played an instrumental role in shaping key programs that bridge the gap between technology and society. Maher’s diplomatic skillset and extensive experience in international affairs have been vital in steering large-scale projects toward their intended impact.

Her commitment to advancing access to information, promoting digital literacy, and advocating for open knowledge underscores her dedication to global progress. Maher’s leadership style is marked by a focus on transparency, inclusivity, and the empowerment of communities, a philosophy that aligns with her vision of leveraging technology for positive societal change.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Maher is recognized for her thought leadership and commitment to fostering open dialogue, leading to insightful conversations that navigate the complex intersection of technology, information, and society. Her tenure at the Wikimedia Foundation has been marked by a dedication to promoting an open, collaborative, and inclusive digital world.

Maher’s strategic vision, combined with her deep understanding of technology and global affairs, positions her as an influential leader capable of steering initiatives toward positive global impact. Her recent appointment as the CEO of Web Summit signals an exciting chapter for the conference, marked by her expertise in fostering dialogue and leveraging technology for societal progress. Her role in steering Web Summit is anticipated to usher in an era focused on innovation, collaboration, and an unwavering commitment to advancing the world of technology and innovation.


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