Microsoft (MSFT) – Get Report became the latest tech giant to turn a conference virtual, bringing to nearly a dozen the number of major industry confabs that have fallen victim to the deadly coronavirus.
With Washington state implementing a ban on large gatherings, Microsoft said it was converting its Build gathering, slated for April 19 to 21, into a digital-only event.
Since Build was launched in 2011, it has been one of Microsoft’s top events, drawing thousands from across the world. The Redmond, Wash., software and tech giant traditionally debuts new products at the meeting.
Microsoft’s decision follows similar moves by Alphabet (GOOGL) – Get Report and Facebook, (FB) – Get Report, both of which recently canceled marquee tech-industry events as measures mount nationwide to combat the spread of covid-19.
Like Microsoft, both Google and Facebook will instead offer virtual versions of their big annual events. Google’s Cloud Next and Facebook’s F8 conferences are set to go ahead digitally, on April 6 through 8 and May 5 and 6, respectively.
The financial hit from the slew of conference cancellations has passed the $1.1 billion mark, according to Recode, and that’s just for all the hotels, restaurants, airlines and transportation companies that typically service these big events.
That estimate is likely to go even higher, with the numbers crunched before Microsoft canceled Build.
Exactly what the online versions of these big-name tech conferences will look like – and whether they will muster the same enthusiasm – also remains unclear.
Google has branded its online-only event “Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect,” and plans to go ahead with keynotes and breakout sessions, while giving virtual attendees the chance to connect with experts online.
Shares of Microsoft rose 5.7% to $146.98 amid a brewing rally in the markets after Thursday’s big slide.