Katherine Maher steps down as Web Summit CEO to take NPR role

25 Jan 2024

Katherine Maher. Image: Web Summit

The former Wikimedia executive said she will begin her new role on 25 March after stepping down from the events company that has had an eventful few months.

Katherine Maher, who was appointed as CEO of Web Summit in October last year, has stepped down from the role less than three months later to take up the top job at NPR, a US non-profit radio company.

In a post on X yesterday (24 January), Maher, a former CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, said that she will be taking up the new role as CEO of NPR (National Public Radio) on 25 March.

“NPR has been a lifelong part of my soundscape, and I credit its reporting with sparking my curiosity that set me onto the path to become the person I am today,” Maher wrote.

Maher took over as CEO of Web Summit after co-founder and former CEO Paddy Cosgrave stepped down from the role following some backlash over comments he made about the Israel-Hamas conflict in Israel and Palestine.

Despite the tumult involving prominent speakers and major tech sponsors backing out and pulling their support for Web Summit, the event went ahead in November. 23 Irish start-ups were flown to Lisbon to showcase their ideas while Maher was at the helm.

Headquartered in Washington DC, NPR is a prominent US media organisation which serves as a national syndicator to a vast network of public radio stations across the country.

Her appointment comes at a crucial time for the company. Last year, NPR said it was laying off 10pc after former chief executive John Lansing told staff in an email seen by the New York Times that the network’s financial outlook “has darkened considerably over recent weeks.”

“NPR represents so much of what I believe in: the importance of civic institutions, high quality public information and our universal human inclination to curiosity. I couldn’t be more excited to join this incredible institution and essential mission,” Maher continued on X.

“Sadly, it does mean I’ll be stepping down as Web Summit CEO on 1 March. I’ve absolutely loved my time with Web Summit. I’ve been bowled over by the team’s talent, energy and frankly – general good vibes – and this appreciation has only grown with each passing week.”

Maher said she will remain on the board of directors and stay on as CEO while delivering the company’s first event in the Middle East, Web Summit Qatar, at the end of February.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic