Google cancels major conference over coronavirus concerns - TechCentral

Google cancels major conference over coronavirus concerns

Google cancelled a major internal gathering over concerns about the spread of coronavirus, the latest in a wave of events and conferences being called off around the world.

The Internet giant’s sales and marketing event was set to take place in Las Vegas in March, a Google spokesman said. “In light of the evolving coronavirus situation, we made the decision to cancel an internal event that would have brought thousands of employees together from across two continents,” the spokesman said.

Companies and event organisers are scrapping large gatherings of people out of fear they could foster the spread of the respiratory virus known as Covid-19, which has killed more than 2 800 people and spread to 55 countries and territories. Switzerland has banned any gathering of more than a thousand people; a massive trade fair in Berlin was cancelled at the last minute; and Facebook on Thursday called off its May event for developers. The Game Developers Conference, set to open on 16 March in San Francisco, is also at risk after Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Sony all pulled out. Google’s biggest annual event — I/O — is still set for early May.

 

Google also said on Friday that one of its employees had been diagnosed with the virus. The worker had spent time in the company’s Zurich office before showing symptoms, the spokesman said. The staffer contracted coronavirus after traveling to an affected area, according to an internal memo. Google will also ban employee travel to and from South Korea and Japan starting on 2 March, according to the memo.

The broader impact of the virus on Google’s business is unclear. The company’s advertising revenue could be affected by a general economic slowdown, particularly as the thousands of small businesses that buy ads on its websites have trouble importing products from China. The Google spokesman declined to comment beyond confirming the event cancellation.  — Reported by Mark Bergen and Gerrit De Vynck, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP

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