Google's cloud conference will be digital only due to coronavirus concerns

The gathering, called Cloud Next, attracted 30,000 attendees last year.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

The conference was last year held in San Francisco. 

Richard Nieva/CNET

Google on Monday said it's making its annual cloud conference, which drew 30,000 attendees last year, a digital-only event as concerns continue to mount over the novel coronavirus that's spreading across the world. 

The event, called Google Cloud Next, was slated to be held in San Francisco from April 6-8. The virtual version of the event will still span those two days, but it will instead consist of "streamed keynotes, breakout sessions, interactive learning and digital 'ask an expert' sessions with Google teams," the search giant said in a blog post.

The novel coronavirus, officially known as SARS-CoV-2, was discovered in December in China. It causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19 that has killed more than 2,800 people and infected more than 84,000

The changes to Cloud Next are the most major disruptions to Google's conference schedule so far due to the spread of coronavirus. The company last week said it's canceling its Google News Initiative Summit because of coronavirus concerns. But that conference -- which was also scheduled for late April in Sunnyvale, California -- was significantly smaller, bringing together hundreds of people across the media industry. 

The illness, with its flulike symptoms, has caused disruptions elsewhere in the tech industry, too. Facebook on Thursday announced it has canceled F8, the social network's biggest event of the year, because of coronavirus concerns. Instead, Facebook will hold smaller local and livestreamed events. MWC, the massive mobile-phone conference held in Barcelona, was also canceled earlier this month. 

Still, Google has plans to hold its annual developer conference, called Google I/O, in May as usual.

"We have no updates to share regarding Google I/O at the moment," a spokeswoman said in a statement. "This is a quickly evolving situation, and we will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments and guidance coming from the CDC, WHO, and other organizations closely."