Meta and Google have pulled out of the Web Summit, one of the tech sector’s biggest annual events, after the organizer criticized Israel’s actions following the Hamas attacks, the companies said on Friday.
A spokesman for Meta confirmed to AFP that it would not take part in this year’s event.
“We will no longer have a presence at Web Summit,” a Google spokesperson said.
Irish entrepreneur Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of the Web Summit, wrote on social media platform X last week that he was “shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many Western leaders & governments.”
“War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are,” Cosgrave wrote on October 13.
Some 2,500 Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip stormed into Israel by land, air and sea on October 7, killing some 1,400 people and seizing 200-250 hostages of all ages under the cover of massive rocket fire at Israeli towns and communities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly, with entire families executed in their homes and over 260 slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists
The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza says over 4,100 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes since the Hamas onslaught. The figures issued by the terror group cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include its own fighters and the victims of a blast at a Gaza City hospital on October 17 caused by an Islamic Jihad missile misfire that Hamas has blamed on Israel.
The boycott by Meta and Google follows other exits by companies and tech figures, including Intel, Siemens and US comedian Amy Poehler and X-files actor Gillian Anderson.
The Web Summit is due to host some 2,300 startups and more than 70,000 people on November 13-16 in Lisbon.
Silicon Valley figure Garry Tan, of start-up backer Y-Combinator, initially kicked off the boycott and other big names in the industry quickly followed.
Cosgrave issued an apology on Tuesday.
“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 apologize deeply,” he said.
“What is needed at this time is compassion, and I did not convey that,” the statement said.
Cosgrave said he “unreservedly” condemns Hamas’s “evil, disgusting and monstrous” attack on Israel and “unequivocally” supports Israel’s “right to exist and to defend itself.”
He also said that Israel should adhere to the Geneva Conventions, “i.e., not commit war crimes.”