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Intel, Mashable and TikTok are the latest to pull out of SXSW. Photo: Amy E. Price/FilmMagic

It's looking like most big tech events will be postponed or canceled for the coming couple months, creating new work patterns for an industry that thrives on gatherings.

Between the lines: In-person events carry long-term value as attendees share ideas and build deeper relationships. In the short term, though, workers may find that less travel for events helps them focus and be more productive.

Driving the news: Among the latest round of cancellations and pullouts:

  • Google scrapped the in-person version of its I/O developer conference, saying it would come up with some sort of digital replacement.
  • Lesbians Who Tech postponed its San Francisco Summit until August.
  • Intel, Mashable and TikTok joined Facebook and Twitter in pulling out of SXSW, but organizers continue to insist the Austin gathering — due to start March 13 — will go on.
  • A number of tech firms, including Amazon, Intel, Cisco and Salesforce, pulled out of HIMSS, the big medical tech trade show slated for next week in Orlando. (Amazon also confirmed that a worker at its South Lake Union campus in Seattle has tested positive for COVID-19.)

Meanwhile: Google and Microsoft both said they are offering free versions of workplace communications software to help businesses deal with travel limits.

  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is providing its G Suite customers with free access to its Hangouts Meet video conferencing tool, through July 1.
  • Microsoft is globally extending an offer of a free six-month trial for the business version of its Teams collaboration software. It had previously made it available in China. "By making Teams available to all for free for six months, we hope that we can support public health and safety by making remote work even easier," a Microsoft representative told Axios.
  • Constellation Research has a timely series of webinars on how tech companies can deal with a coronavirus-altered landscape, as well as a long (and growing) list of the tech events canceled so far.

Go deeper

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

Biden's Russian sanctions likely to achieve little

President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there's little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it's true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia's sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.