Web Summit firm made €5.3m loss after Covid pandemic caused revenue to drop by €31m


Businessman Paddy Cosgrave’s Web Summit group sustained a €30.59m hit to revenues in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19.

hat is according to new accounts filed by Manders Terrace Ltd, which show the plummeting revenues resulted in the business recording a pre-tax loss of €5.29m in 2020.

This followed the business enjoying pre-tax profits of €6.96m in 2019 – a negative swing of €12.2m from profit to loss.

The accounts for the holding company behind the Web Summit and other events show turnover reduced by €30.59m or 64pc from €47.94m to €17.35m in the 12 months to the end of December 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.

According to the directors under the heading of post balance events: “We have continued to invest into the development of our software and tech to improve our physical events as we return in person.”

“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,” they said.

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

A note attached to the accounts, signed on October 31 last year, described ChangeX as an Irish-founded platform that brought people together to work on initiatives for the public good.

“ChangeX identified and funded a set of projects aimed at strengthening Ireland’s response to Covid-19,” the note stated.

Despite the impact of Covid-19 on operations, numbers employed by the group continued to rise in 2020 increasing from 225 to 236.

However, staff costs declined from €16.19m to €12.68m. Directors’ pay decreased from €850,100 to €551,212.

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

Separately published Revenue Commissioners’ statistics show a Manders Terrace subsidiary, Web Summit Services Ltd, availed of state Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme payments in 2020.

The loss also takes account of combined non-cash depreciation and other costs of €1.7m. The 2020 loss resulted in the group’s shareholder funds reducing from €13m to €7.77m. The group’s cash funds increased from €10.75m to €11.65m.

Paddy Cosgrave, Daire Hickey and David Kelly founded the Web Summit conference 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 and his former colleagues, Mr Hickey and Mr Kelly, has yet to be determined across several court actions.

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

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