A letter from Web Summit’s new CEO, Katherine Maher

Maeve Harris's avatar
Maeve Harris

My first time at Web Summit I was struck by the openness of the event. It wasn’t a pitch competition, or a trade show, or a policy conference. It was all these things and more. It had engineers discussing the potential of carbon capture alongside politicians debating the merits of various data privacy regulatory schemes. It had investors scouting the next unicorn alongside footballers advocating for the power of sport for change.

It was a place for the smallest startups and the biggest household names, all brushing shoulders in the same spaces, connecting over collaboration or challenging the status quo. It was a place for fresh ideas to find lightning-in-a-bottle opportunities, and for established wisdom to receive new hearing. A place that saw technology not just as an industry but as a force transforming business, politics, and society.

If you’re reading this, though, you’re undoubtedly aware that in recent weeks Web Summit has been at the centre of the conversation, rather than the host. Its purpose was overshadowed by the personal comments of the event’s founder and former CEO, Paddy Cosgrave. Paddy has apologised and stepped down from Web Summit; you can read his statement here.

Today Web Summit is entering its next phase. I am excited to announce that I am joining Web Summit as CEO, because I believe in Web Summit’s mission to connect people and ideas that change the world. Our immediate task at hand is returning the focus to what we do best: facilitating discussions among everyone involved in technological progress.

Over the next few weeks our attention will be on delivering an event as compelling as any that have come before. In the months ahead we will take up the charge of setting up our global events for an even brighter future.

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 now than ever.

In two weeks’ time our team will bring up to 70,000 people together in Lisbon to enhance meaningful connections and enable dialogue to continue – and to help you shape the future.

Since its inception 14 years ago – 150 people in a cramped lecture room in Dublin – Web Summit has been about bringing people together: innovators, investors, policy-makers, thinkers, business leaders and all those who will shape the world of tomorrow. Every year, it’s your participation that fulfils this promise.

I want to thank you all for your support throughout the years and hope to see you soon.


Katherine Maher

Main image of Web Summit CEO Katherine Maher: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)

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