In a recent announcement on Oct 20, Charles Hoskinson, founder of Cardano, declined an invitation to speak at the upcoming Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal.
Paddy Cosgrave, the CEO and co-founder of the annual tech conference Web Summit, stepped down from his position after a controversy arose due to his remarks concerning the Israel-Hamas conflict.
In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), Cosgrave expressed that acts classified as war crimes should be denounced regardless of the responsible parties, alluding to Israel’s retaliatory actions in Gaza following Hamas attacks.
These comments generated significant controversy and faced opposition from various venture capitalists and tech entrepreneurs. Prominent participants, including Alphabet Inc., Meta Inc., and Amazon.com Inc., withdrew their participation from the Web Summit.
The annual event was expected to have over 70,000 attendees, but as the controversy sparked, many tech-savvy participants refused to be a part of the event.
Hoskinson explained his decision not to attend. The CEO believes that the technology conference should be more than a political platform. He believes that these events should serve as forums for sharing groundbreaking ideas and fostering innovation.
Hoskinson spoke about his previous experience at Web Summit; he recalled spending over 20 minutes defending the cryptocurrency industry against accusations of enabling criminality.
He emphasized that technology conferences should be spaces where attendees are inspired by the wonder of a promising tomorrow, where great ideas are showcased, and where new experiences are shared.
Instead, he lamented that the events have devolved into arenas where speakers are forced to justify their industries and where attending is seen as a political statement.
“The magic of technology conferences is supposed to be the wonder of a better tomorrow, great ideas being showcased, and new experiences. Not asking your speakers to explain why they aren’t criminals or now make attending a political statement,” said Hoskinson in his statement.
Rather than accepting the Web Summit speaking slot, Hoskinson has decided to take an alternative route by hosting a five-hour “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session.
While he has not yet given specific details about the timing of the event, it is expected to provide a more open and inclusive platform for dialogue, where the focus will be on technology, innovation and community engagement.