Google and Microsoft both announced on Monday that two industry conferences, Google’s Cloud Next in San Francisco and Microsoft’s MVP Summit in the Seattle suburbs of Bellevue and Redmond, are being cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Google says it will be making its Cloud Next conference — an enterprise-focused meetup dedicated to G Suite and other cloud computing tools and by attendees the largest Google conference — into a “digital-first” event. Microsoft plans to do the same with its MVP Summit.
“We are transforming the event into Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect, a free, global, digital-first, multi-day event connecting our attendees to Next ’20 content and each other through streamed keynotes, breakout sessions, interactive learning and digital ‘ask an expert’ sessions with Google teams,” the company said in a statement posted to the Cloud Next website.
Google and Microsoft are switching over to virtual versions of their conferences
Cloud Next was slated to take place at San Francisco’s Moscone Center from April 6th to April 8th. The company plans to refund attendees both the cost of tickets for the event and hotel stays, and all registered attendees will be given access to the digital version of the event instead, Google says.
Microsoft’s MVP Summit, a networking event for its “Most Valuable Professional” program, will also be transitioning to a virtual version. It will take place from March 16th to 20th, the same week as the initially-planned physical conference.
These cancellations don’t bode well for both companies’ annual developer conferences, which typically feature high-profile consumer product launches and announcements. Both Google I/O and Microsoft Build are scheduled for May, yet Facebook decided last week to cancel its F8 developer conference, which occurs just a week before I/O and two weeks before Build. Neither Google nor Microsoft has publicly announced any plans to postpone or cancel their developer conferences as of now, but moving Cloud Next and MVP Summit to “virtual events” could be the first step toward making a similar decision for I/O and Build.
These are just the latest technology-related events to be postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus strain that originated in China but has since spread to numerous countries around the world. Last week, the Game Developers Conference announced it would be postponing its annual event originally scheduled for later this month to some time later this summer. The organization behind the global phone expo Mobile World Congress cancelled its event in Barcelona last month, as well. Numerous other events have been similarly effected.
Countless other companies in the tech industry and beyond have also begun restricting employee travel, expanding remote and work-from-home policies, and taking additional measures to help prevent the spread of the virus. Today, Facebook announced it would be banning all social visits to its offices worldwide, and job interviews will be conducted via video conferencing. So far, more than 3,000 people have died from COVID-19, including six people in Washington state just in the past few days. Numerous cases continue to pop up throughout the US as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expands its testing procedures.
Update March 2nd, 7:44PM ET: Clarified that Google Cloud Next is the company’s largest conference by attendees, while I/O is dedicated to high-profile consumer product announcements.