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Collision tech conference cancels in-person event, goes online due to coronavirus

Shruti Shekar
·Telecom & Tech Reporter
·2 min read
Toronto financial district skyline

Collision, one of Toronto’s biggest tech conferences, is cancelling its in-person events and moving the conference online, because of concerns surrounding COVID-19.

“We have been liaising closely with our host city, Toronto, for many months, and have also followed advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Last night, we made the decision in an abundance of caution given the international nature of the tech industry, and size and scope of the Collision conference,” the conference organizers said in a press release on March 6. “While disappointed, we determined the time to make this decision was now rather than closer to our June in-person event.”

The conference, which runs from June 22 to 25 this year, attracts 30,000 attendees from 125 different countries. Last year, the guest list included leaders in the tech space like Google, Shopify, Slack, General Electric, Samsung, Facebook and PayPal.

The conference organizers said in the release that the conference will still take place online calling it “Collision from Home.”

Attendees will be able to use a software that was used last year to attend the conference online.

“Though the software was originally built to enhance attendees’ offline experience, we believe we are in a good position to develop it to a point where we can host Collision from Home,” the release said.

The organizers indicated that those who have purchased tickets to the upcoming conference will automatically be transferred to the in-person event to be held in June 2021. The guests will also be able to attend the online conference for free.

More conferences going online, but “in-person” networking will lack

Since January, several tech companies have cancelled upcoming conferences due to COVID-19.

Facebook’s F8 (May 6 to 8), Facebook Global Marketing Summit (March 9 to 12), Google I/O (April 6 to 8), Mobile World Congress (Feb 24 to 27) have all been cancelled.

SXSW (March 12 to 22) is still scheduled but Apple, Twitter, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon Studios, and IBM have decided to back out of the event.

Shopify Unite 2020 Developers Conference (May 6-8) cancelled its Toronto in-person event and, like Collision, has moved online only.

Duncan Stewart, director of technology, media and telecommunications research for Deloitte Canada, told Yahoo Finance Canada he wasn’t surprised that many events were being cancelled because of the virus.

He said that many of these conferences have an online option for those who “can’t or don’t want to travel in person.”

“I haven't participated, but was told the technology works fairly well and it is better than not participating at all,” he said.

Stewart noted though that while online events might be good they lack the “in-person networking” aspect.

“That is the real reason most people attend industry conferences,” he said.

With files from Reuters

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