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Cosgrave at Web Summit 2015
1982/1983 (age 37–38)
|Known for||Co-founder of Web Summit|
Patrick Cosgrave is an Irish entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of Web Summit, an annual technology conference, and CEO of the company that runs Web Summit and other events. In 2015 he was listed 18th in the Wired UK list of the most influential people in Europe in the field of technology.
Early life and education
Cosgrave grew up on a farm in County Wicklow. He was educated at Glenstal Abbey School and Trinity College Dublin, where he studied Business, Economics and Social Studies (BESS). While at Trinity he was president of the University Philosophical Society (The Phil) and editor of Piranha, a satirical college magazine. During his presidency of The Phil, the society introduced Phil Speaks, an outreach initiative aimed at promoting debating and public speaking in Irish secondary schools. Cosgrave graduated with a II-1 BA from Trinity College, Dublin's BESS program in 2006.
Cosgrave was one of the organizers and the executive director of Rock the Vote Ireland, a campaign launched in April 2007 to encourage young people to vote in the May 2007 Irish general election. He was also a co-founder of MiCandidate, a website that "provided detailed information on every candidate running in the 2007 general election". MiCandidate expanded its scope to become a syndicator of news and information about European politicians to media organisations. The company was sold for "an undisclosed sum" in October 2009.
Cosgrave is a co-founder of the Web Summit and F.ounders conferences, and the CEO of Ci, the company that runs the two conferences and other events. F.ounders is an invitation-only event first held in Dublin in October 2009. He has criticised the Irish tax system, and has consequently been advised of hypocrisy as Amaranthine, an investment fund set up by Mr Cosgrave with other Web Summit founders, is based in California, but registered in Delaware, an effective tax shelter. The first Dublin Web Summit in November 2010 was attended by approximately 400 people. The fourth annual Web Summit in November 2014 had an attendance of over 22,000, and 30,000 were expected to attend the event in Dublin in November 2015. Starting in 2016, the Web Summit was held in Lisbon, although Ci continued to be headquartered in Dublin. In 2014 Ci began introducing new events in the United States (Collision) and Hong Kong (RISE), with an event called SURGE planned for February 2016 in India.
In March 2012, Cosgrave was appointed to the board of the Higher Education Authority. While still a member of the board in 2014, Cosgrave said that his company would recruit graduates with first class honours degrees from most universities, but with II.1 degrees from Trinity College Dublin, the grade which Cosgrave had achieved. The Higher Education Authority distanced itself from Cosgrave's comments. Cosgrave subsequently resigned from the board in 2015.
On 30 March 2020, Cosgrave posted a tribute on Twitter to the "4 nurses in Ireland who fought so hard for so many patients, but who themselves fell ill, and have now passed. RIP." The following day, the Health Service Executive tweeted that "Contrary to tweets sent yesterday - thankfully none of our nurses have died in Ireland from #COVID19." Phil Ni Sheaghdha, general secretary of the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO), accused Cosgrave of "scaremongering". On 8 June, Cosgrave "unreservedly" apologised on Twitter to the HSE and the INMO. 
In 2020, Dr Maitiú O Tuathail took legal proceedings against Cosgrave regarding comments Cosgrave made on his Twitter profile. The case was settled outside of court.
The Web Summit has also been the subject of several controversies under Cosgrave's stewardship, including its move from Dublin to Lisbon, the organisation of a dinner at Portugal's National Pantheon, and the invitation of Marine Le Pen as a speaker, which was subsequently withdrawn.
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- Temperton, James (23 September 2015). "Web Summit 2016 will ditch Dublin for Lisbon". Wired UK. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
- Cosgrave, Paddy (23 September 2015). "The Next Chapter". Web Summit Blog. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
- "Exporters Association presents Gold Medal to Paddy Cosgrave, Web Summit at IEA President's Lunch at The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin". Irish Exporters Association. 12 June 2015. Archived from the original on 6 April 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
- "The 2015 WIRED 100". Wired UK. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
The only rules for nomination to the WIRED 100 are that the individuals must have a strong European connection, if not a base here; and they are being judged on their influence today, rather than historic achievements or funding raised.
- "Head of Development appointed to HEA Board". www.itsligo.ie. IT Sligo. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
- "Higher Education Authority Report of the 372nd Meeting" (PDF). hea.ie. Higher Education Authority. 25 May 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
- Coyne, Ellen (2 April 2020). "Web Summit founder urged to apologise over rubbished 'four nurses dead' tweet". Irish Independent. Dublin. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
- Gataveckaite, Gabija (8 June 2020). "Paddy Cosgrave apologises to INMO and HSE after tweeting four nurses died from Covid-19". Irish Independent. Dublin. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
- Phelan, Shane. "Leak controversy doctor settles libel action against Web Summit chief". Irish Independent.
- "Paddy Cosgrave profile: the contradictions of a 'crony' crusader entrepreneur". independent. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
- Moloney, Marita. "What does the term 'Castle Catholic' mean?". Newstalk. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
- Killian, Woods (21 September 2016). "Web Summit is getting comfy in Portugal as it opens a Lisbon office". Fora.
- Halpin, Hayley (14 November 2017). "Web Summit organiser apologises over 'offensive' dinner at Portugal's National Pantheon". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
- McDermott, Stephen (15 August 2018). "Web Summit founder withdraws invite for far-right leader Marine Le Pen to 2018 event". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
- McSorley, Christina (16 August 2018). "Marine Le Pen's presence deemed 'disrespectful' at Web Summit". BBC News. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
- O'Donovan, Donal (16 August 2018). "Web Summit chief in U-turn as invitation to far-right leader Le Pen is withdrawn". Irish Independent. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
- Murphy, Greg (15 August 2018). "Latest: Web Summit withdraw Le Pen invitation saying it is 'disrespectful' to Portugal and attendees". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
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