Even as venture capital firm Sequoia Capital sent out an advisory to the founders and CEOs in its portfolio on the impact of Covid-19 and called the coronavirus outbreak the black swan event of 2020, other major startup events and conferences have also been cancelled as the world reels from the biggest disruption to business since the global economic recession of 2008.
Sequoia warned of a slowdown that may take several quarters to recover, and that many companies in frontline countries are facing challenges as a result of the virus outbreak.
“Many companies have banned all “non-essential” travel and some have banned all international travel. While travel companies are directly impacted, all companies that depend on in-person meetings to conduct sales, business development, or partnership discussions are being affected,” it said.
As the number of coronavirus cases surges even outside China, including in India, many major events, as mentioned below, have been cancelled or moved online to avoid large gatherings. Understanding the gravity of the situation, Inc42 has also cancelled its upcoming Founders Meet.
Y Combinator Demo Day
Startup accelerator Y Combinator has announced that it has moved its popular demo day online this year on “growing concerns over COVID-19.” “While we won’t be able to recreate every aspect of Demo Day, we’ll try our best to create an amazing experience for our founders and investors,” Y Combinator announced.
The event will be pre-recorded and released to investors on Monday, March 23. “We will also provide additional written background information on each company and access to their decks. Finally, our software will make it easy for investors and founders to exchange contact information so that they can arrange one-on-one meetings. All of this will happen on the same YC Demo Day website that investors and founders have used over the past five years,” it said in a blogpost.
One of the most popular tech events, Collision 2020, has been turned into a virtual-only conference. Now called Collision from Home, it will take place from June 22 to 25.
“For now, given the evolving nature of Covid-19, we think gathering tens of thousands of people from almost every country in the world in one place this June would be irresponsible. Toronto has not suffered a significant Covid-19 outbreak, and at Collision we want to ensure that remains the case,” Collision said in a blog post.
It also said that during Web Summit 2018 the company noticed some attendees, who were not in Lisbon, were nevertheless using the web and mobile apps for networking, connecting and chatting with exhibitors and attendees. “These attendees watched many of our talks and participated in workshops. And they did it all remotely,” it said.
Google I/O 2020
Following the health guidance from the WHO, and other health authorities, Google decided to cancel the physical Google I/O event at Shoreline Amphitheatre.
“All guests who have purchased tickets to I/O 2020 will receive a full refund by March 13, 2020. If you don’t see the credit on your statement by then, please reach out to [email protected] Guests who have registered for I/O 2020 will not need to enter next year’s drawing and will be automatically granted the option of purchasing an I/O 2021 ticket,” the company said in a blog post.
The company has also said that over the coming weeks, it will explore other ways to evolve Google I/O to connect with its developer community.
Amazon Web Services Summit
Ecommerce giant Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services) has cancelled its annual summit in India. The summit was scheduled in Mumbai from April 7-9.
“Our top priority is the wellbeing of our customers, partners and employees. After a careful review of the current situation with COVID-19 and listening to the guidance provided by the local authorities, Amazon Web Services regrets to announce that we have made the decision to cancel the AWS Summit Mumbai 2020, which was scheduled for 8 & 9 April at Bombay Exhibition Center, Mumbai,” the company said in a statement.
The company also said, while apologising for inconveniences caused, that it is currently looking at all options for a follow-up event and will communicate those details as soon as they are available.
Mobile World Congress 2020
The GSM Association (GSMA), which organizes the phone show Mobile World Congress, also cancelled it. “The coronavirus outbreak has made it impossible to hold the event. MWC was scheduled to take place in Barcelona between February 24th and the 27th. With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” GSMA was quoted as saying.
The GSMA and the Host City Parties will reportedly continue to support each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions.
After startups and VCs backed out of South by Southwest Conference (SXSW), the renowned annual tech, film and music conference in Austin, citing coronavirus, the city authorities have cancelled the event. Prior to the event, there were many dropouts and demands for cancellation from startups.
“We are devastated to share this news with you. “The show must go on” is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation,” the company said.
Quoting Austin Public Health’s earlier statement that there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer, it said that this situation evolved rapidly and that the company respects the City of Austin’s current decision. “We are committed to doing our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites.We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ,” it said.
Facebook organises the F8 event every year to bring its global developer community under one roof. However, with the increasing concerns of COVID-19, the social media giant has cancelled the in-person component of F8 2020.
“This was a tough call to make — F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favourite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world — but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on. We explored other ways to keep the in-person part of F8, but it’s important to us to host an inclusive event and it didn’t feel right to have F8 without our international developers in attendance,” it said.
The company also announced that in place of the in-person F8 event, it is planning other ways for its community to get together through a combo of locally hosted events, videos and live-streamed content. “We’ll share additional details on our plans for F8 in the coming weeks. Sign up here to have updates emailed to you directly. In the meantime, thanks for your patience and understanding — and we look forward to seeing our global community of developers at F8 2021!” it said.