SXSW officially cancelled after companies such as Apple, LinkedIn, IBM, Netflix, WarnerMedia, TikTok, Amazon Studios, Intel, Facebook, Twitter and Panasonic bail on the event.
With just days to go before Austin, Texas hosts SXSW 2020, the event has been cancelled. The organizers announced this after dozens of additional companies made announcements that they would not be participating in the music, film, tech, art and gaming conference. The event brings in over 400,000 people from around the world, and more than $350 million in local economic impact, but Apple, LinkedIn, IBM, Netflix, WarnerMedia, TikTok, Amazon Studios, Intel, Facebook, Twitter and Panasonic were among the first to bail due to worries about the coronavirus.
And today, media giant CNN cancelled its plans to participate. CNN issued the following statement, “Out of an abundance of caution and because the situation has been changing so rapidly, CNN has limited all non-essential travel and events for its employees until further notice. Because of that, CNN will not be moving forward with the CITIZEN by CNN House at SXSW this year.”
South by Southwest is scheduled for March 13-22 and takes place at venues throughout Austin. It’s normally the kind of event where you can rub elbows with Jon Hamm, bump into random aliens, bleed for the throne at an HBO Game of Thrones activation, pet a Hellhound from Amazon’s Garden of Earthly Delights at various locations, and then walk down the street to another setting to learn about technology such as what LG is doing with 5G mobility or find out more about the future of autonomous vehicles. It’s a magical kind of place and it seems like the type of event that the real world can’t affect but, sadly, this year it is as the threat of the coronavirus and COVID-19 is looming large.
For those who do attend, this year will be very different with the lack of vendors and attendees. Maybe it will feel more in size like the way it did in decades past before it became a mega conference. Because in addition to the companies listed above, Sony, Universal and Warner Music have advised employees not to attend.has cancelled its popular House of Modern Beauty event. All of the Hypergiant SXSW activations have been cancelled. The Latinx House has closed. The Capital Factory cancelled its startup crawl. And entertainers such as Atticus Ross, Kumail Nanjiani, Emily Gordon, Ozzy Osbourne, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and the Beastie Boys have already bailed with more surely to come over the weekend.
There are big names still on the marquee. Hillary Clinton, Adam Schiff, Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang were late additions to the schedule as part of the “Conversations about America’s Future” series and they haven’t said they’re cancelling. Chris Evans is still listed as a keynote speaker, but he’s also Captain America, so he has superpowers.
As of Friday, SXSW organizers said that the event is going on as scheduled and has released the following information: “SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event. As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, we are proceeding with the 2020 event with the health and safety of our attendees, staff, and volunteers as our top priority.”
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