UPDATE 3/6/2020: SXSW HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN IT’S 34-YEAR HISTORY.
South By Southwest kicks off next week. Or does it?
According to The Verge, Twitter is canceling employee travel to the annual South by Southwest festival, including CEO Jack Dorsey’s planned keynote, due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. The company announced Sunday it was halting all “non-critical business travel and events”, saying the policy was effective immediately and would remain in place until a vaccine was available, or until “the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control deem it appropriate to step back from pandemic precautionary measures.”
The company’s #TwitterHouse at SXSW which was slated to have “a variety of events and programming,” also has been canceled.
Facebook also bowed out. More companies are likely to join the exodus.
A Petition with 30K Signatures and Growing
How far and how fast does fear of contagion spread? This petition calling for the cancellation of SXSW has more than 30,000 signatures.
Keep Austin Weirdly Impervious
Texas Monthly notes that none of this is good news for the Austin economy.
Being annoyed by SXSW is, of course, a tradition nearly as old as the festival itself. In any given year, it probably wouldn’t be too hard to find 25,000 people willing to sign a petition urging its cancelation—just because they don’t like the hassle of an event that effectively takes over Austin for ten days in mid-March. But an awful lot of the Austin economy depends on the festival, and its cancelation would affect a lot more than just the attendees.
An Austinite and Facebook friend said, “Perhaps this year SXSW will go back to its roots as a showcase for new and rising artists without all of the corporate B.S. that’s permeated it over the last decade.”
There’s always an upside!
UPDATE: Apple, Intel, TikTok, Amazon Studios are also bowing out.