Tech firms withdraw from South by Southwest amid coronavirus concerns

The coronavirus is rattling big tech, with Facebook, Twitter and Intel all pulling out of this month’s South by Southwest festival and Google canceling its annual developers conference.

Employees from Twitter will no longer attend the weeklong Austin, Texas, music film festival, known for its A-list speakers, after the company announced a non-essential travel ban. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who had been set to be a keynote speaker, will also be a no-show.

Facebook also said that it would no longer have a presence at the popular event, which drew more than 70,000 participants last year, “due to concerns related to coronavirus,” while Intel said that it was withdrawing “from on-site activities” at the event.

Past SXSW speakers have included Jon Favreau, Nicolas Cage, Janelle Monae, Amy Schumer and Gayle King.

The cancellations come as Google on Tuesday moved its annual developer conference, Google I/O, online amid coronavirus fears. The conference, which last year had more than 7,000 attendees, was set to take place at the company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters in mid-May.

“Over the coming weeks, we will explore other ways to evolve Google I/O to best connect with and continue to build our developer community,” the company said of the event to show off the latest and greatest Android and YouTube software and features.

Google’s decision arrived just a day after Facebook canceled its annual F8 developer conference — where CEO Mark Zuckerberg would have taken the stage to talk about Facebook’s newest features and products — and instead replace it with locally hosted events, videos and live-streamed content.

The coronavirus has infected nearly 130 people in the US so far, and killed nine, as of Tuesday afternoon. The viral disease has infected more than 25 people in the Bay Area, which most big tech companies call home.

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