Mar 4, 2020 - Technology

Scoop: Coronavirus forces TED conference to delay or go digital

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

The TED conference in Vancouver is the latest major gathering to be affected by the coronavirus, with organizers telling Axios they plan to either postpone the event or hold a digital-only gathering.

Why it matters: The high-profile weeklong conference brings together some of the biggest names in tech, entertainment and business.

  • "We're presently working to figure out what makes the most sense for the health and safety of our community," TED organizers said in a statement to Axios. "We've narrowed it down to two options — either postpone the conference to July 26–30 (still in Vancouver) or go digital."
  • The organization is currently discussing the options with attendees and expects to make a decision by the end of the day on Monday.

"We are not canceling!" TED curator Chris Anderson said in a note to attendees. "We have two compelling options for how to outwit this virus, and we need your input."

Anderson outlined the pros and cons of each option and said organizers will take feedback until Friday morning.

  • An in-person event in July would be in the same place and preserve the traditional feel, but the virus could force the event to go digital even then. If the event moves to July, TED wold open the last day to family members, recognizing that the new date comes when many people are doing their summer travel.
  • Moving digital would allow the conference to go on as planned in April — and let attendees share the event with friends and family — but just listening to talks online is only a part of the conference.

The big picture: TED's move follows the cancellations of Mobile World Congress, Facebook F8, Google I/O, among other events. Others have been postponed, including Game Developers Conference and Lesbians Who Tech's San Francisco Summit.

Meanwhile: Organizers of SXSW insist their event will go on as scheduled later this month, despite Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, TikTok and others pulling out and tens of thousands of people petitioning for the event to be canceled.

Update: IBM told Axios it is converting its THINK conference in May from an in-person event in San Francisco to a digital-only event. Last year's conference drew 30,000 attendees.

Go deeper: Coronavirus drives more tech industry events to be postponed or canceled

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Coronavirus pushes TED conference back to July

Photo: Glenn Chapman/AFP via Getty Images

This year's TED conference is being rescheduled to July, organizers told Axios, marking the latest incident of the coronavirus derailing a tech event.

Why it matters: Postponing the conference, originally slated to take place in Vancouver next month, denies major players in tech and business a chance to assemble in one place to talk big ideas just as the coronavirus crisis heats up and global markets grow volatile.

Netflix and Apple the latest to pull out of SXSW over coronavirus concerns

The 2019 SXSW Conference at Paramount Theatre, Austin, Texas, March 2019. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

Netflix is the latest big name to withdraw from this month's South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, amid concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus, the streaming giant confirmed to Axios Wednesday night.

Details: Apple told Axios earlier in the evening that it was withdrawing from the event.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 5, 2020 - Health

Tech firms ban travel and push remote work amid coronavirus outbreak

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Tech companies are taking fresh action in hopes of preventing employees from getting exposed to the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: It's not clear what course the virus will take, but companies are trying to do what they can to keep running their businesses while minimizing risk for employees.