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Paddy Cosgrave’s Web Summit group last year returned to profit to record pre-tax profits of €4.34m


Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave

Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave

Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave

Web Summit returned to profit last year. Paddy Cosgrave’s firm, which stages its annual technology conference in Lisbon, recording pre-tax profits of €4.34m according to 2021 accounts filed by Manders Terrace Ltd.

They show the group returned to profit after revenues last year increased by €14.45m, or 83pc, from €17.35m to €31.8m.

The accounts – which became available on Wednesday – show the business recovered last year as Covid-19 restrictions eased.

The group’s 2020 accounts, which became available only on Tuesday, show the business sustained a €30.59m hit to revenues in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19.

The group’s 2020 revenues reduced by 64pc from €47.94m to €17.35m and resulted in the business recording a pre-tax loss of €5.29m in 2020.

The group’s 2020 revenues declined sharply after the Web Summit was unable to stage its flagship in-person Web Summit in Lisbon in 2020 due to Covid-19.

It subsequently ran a virtual version of the conference in December 2020, attracting 104,000 people.

The principal activity of the group is developing software and organising events.

In 2021, the directors stated the firm has “continued to invest into the development of our software and tech to improve our physical events as we return in person”.

They state: “Web Summit returned stronger than expected in 2021 selling out to over 40,000 attendees, with numbers capped due to Covid-19 health and safety regulations.”

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The 2020 pre-tax loss took account of an exceptional provision of €1m that the Web Summit donated to ChangeX in 2020.

A note attached to the 2020 accounts, signed on October 31 last, describes ChangeX as an Irish-founded platform that brings people together to work on initiatives for the public good. The note states: “ChangeX identified and funded a set of projects aimed at strengthening Ireland’s response to Covid-19.”

Despite the impact of Covid-19 on operations over 2020 and 2021, numbers employed by the group continued to rise across the two years increasing from 225 at the start of 2020 to 246 at the end of last year.

Staff costs last year increased from €12.68m to €13.43m.

Directors’ pay increased almost four fold from €551,212 to €2.15m last year and the large hike follows the appointment of Nida Shah, Nathan Hubbard, Peter Gilmer and Michael Sexton to the board last year.

The group benefited from ‘other operating income’ of €712,514 in 2020 and €1.13m in 2021.

Separately, published Revenue Commissioners’ statistics show that Manders Terrace subsidiary Web Summit Services Ltd availed of government Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme payments in 2020 and 2021

The 2021 profit also takes account of combined non-cash depreciation and amortisation costs of €1.7m.

The 2021 profit resulted in the group’s shareholder funds increasing from €7.77m to €11.5m. The group’s cash funds increased from €11.65m to €19.29m.

The Web Summit conference was founded by Paddy Cosgrave, Daire Hickey and David Kelly in Dublin in 2009, with 150 attendees at the inaugural event. Mr Kelly resigned as a director in April 2021. Mr Hickey resigned as director in August 2019.

A high-profile legal wrangle involving Mr Cosgrave – who owns 81pc of the business – and his former colleagues, Mr Hickey and Mr Kelly has yet to be determined across several court actions.

The 2021 accounts – signed off on June 7 – state under the heading of ‘legal costs’ that “from time to time, the group is involved in claims and legal actions arising during the normal course of business and/or otherwise”.

The note states: “Based on the information currently available and legal advice, the directors believe such litigation will not, individually or in aggregate, have a materially adverse effect on the financial statements and that the group is adequately positioned to deal with the outcome of any such litigation."

The Web Summit relocated to Lisbon in 2016 under a 10-year deal with the Portuguese government.

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