Paddy Cosgrave refuses to sell stake in Israeli startup

Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave credit: Shutterstock
Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave credit: Shutterstock

Cosgrave, whose tweets alleging Israeli war crimes forced him to step down as Web Summit CEO, is refusing to sell his stake in generative AI company Ask.AI, which this week raised $11 million.

After the October 7, Irish investor Paddy Cosgrave made a series of tweets condemning Israel's response but failing to condemn the Hamas atrocities. In one tweet he said, "War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies."

Cosgrave's tweets whipped up a storm of controversy. Eventually tech giants including Google, Meta, Intel and Amazon canceled their participation in the Web Summit Conference, one of the world's biggest tech conferences held in Portugal in November, of which Cosgrave was the CEO. Cosgrave apologized, condemned Hamas and resigned as CEO after 15 years in the position but reiterated his allegations that Israel was committing war crimes in Gaza.

Now Cosgrave has refused to sell his stake in Israel startup Ask.AI, which this week completed an $11 million Series A financing round, led by Leaders Fund with participation from seed investors Vertex Ventures, State of Mind Ventures, GTMFund and others. This brings to $20 million, the amount that the company has raised. Cosgrave invested in Ask.AI, which has developed a generative AI answers and insights solution for enterprises, during last year's Web Summit. The company was founded in 2021 by CEO Alon Talmor.

During the Series A financing round, Cosgrave was asked to sell his stake in the company but refused. Talmor said, "As somebody who serves in the army and 30% of our employees received emergency call-ups to serve as reservists, I am not prepared and it is not appropriate that somebody who talks in this way about Israel will be among the investors."

Cosgrave clearly saw potential in the Israeli company by investing $200,000 in it. However, there is no legal way to force him to disinvest unless he agrees to sell to the investors wanting to take his place.

Talmor says that there were investors prepared to pay a high price for Cosgrave's stake in order to persuade him to sell but to no avail. It could be that he hopes to ride the wave and sell his shares at an even higher price.

Regarding the startup itself, Talmor radiates optimism. "We believe that a market for AI personal assistants for employees is growing and being created and that we are well placed to lead this market."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on January 11, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave credit: Shutterstock
Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave credit: Shutterstock
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