Google and Meta join growing list of companies quitting Europe’s biggest tech conference after the event’s leader vented about Israel


Alphabet’s Google and Meta Platforms have joined a growing list of companies and investors bowing out of the Web Summit technology conference after comments the event’s leader made about Israel earlier this week. 

Google and Meta spokespeople confirmed on Friday that the companies would not be participating in the conference, scheduled for November in Lisbon. Google was previously listed as an event partner of the conference. Intel Corp. and Siemens AG announced a similar decision on Thursday after a raft of venture capitalists in Israel, the US and Europe pulled out of the event. 

A spokesperson for Stripe Inc., a longtime sponsor of Web Summit, also confirmed Friday that it would no longer have a presence at the conference. Chief Product Officer Will Gaybrick and Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Titterton were previously scheduled for the event.

The cancellations came after Paddy Cosgrave, the head of Web Summit, criticized Western support for Israel on social media after the Hamas attacks. “War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies,” he said about Israel’s response to the attacks.

Cosgrave later issued an apology, writing on Web Summit’s website, “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.” 

A group of Israeli investors issued a joint statement calling for a boycott of the event.

Web Summit did not immediately provide comment. 

In addition to drawing tech companies and investors, Web Summit has featured several marquee political speakers in the past. Portuguese Economy Minister Antonio Costa Silva’s attendance this year is confirmed, the ministry said via email on Friday. Robert Habeck, the vice chancellor of Germany, is listed as a keynote speaker for November. A German government representative said the country is still weighing its participation.

Representatives from Inc., which is also scheduled to send executives to Web Summit, did not respond to requests for comments.

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