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StarterNoise

Coronavirus Crisis Inspires Virtual Conferences

Coronavirus has prompted the conception of the largescale virtual conferences. So this time, you won’t be receiving branded paperweight. 

In recent days, countless industries have been rocked by the coronavirus. We’ve seen toilet paper fly off the shelves. We’ve seen more medical masks than one can count. We’ve learned the dire importance of social distancing. And now we’re even seeing nationwide events being canceled.

As we covered previously, SXSW is confirmed canceled. Coachella and Stagecoach are in talks to be postponed until October and this was recently confirmed by the event organizers. RuPaul’s DragCon LA is canceled. France’s Tomorrowland Music Festival is canceled. NCAA Basketball is a mess. 

But then there’s Google Cloud Next ’20. This physical event was meant to be held in San Francisco on April 6-8, but the event has made a radically innovative pivot. It will now be “Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect,” a “free, global, digital-first, multiday experience” and will feature live streaming keynotes and sessions.

And as more gatherings get shut down on behalf of COVID-19, more and more companies are trying to recreate the experience online. Not only are companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Salesforce enforcing policies that their employees work from home, but the tech industry as a whole has begun to reexamine the concept of conferences. Especially considering the circumstances of coronavirus is reshaping the way we work. 

So the virtual alternatives to conferences have been conceived. In fact, a new virtual conference startup called Run The World was recently founded and describes its platform as “a hybrid of Zoom video, Eventbrite ticketing, Twitch interactivity, and LinkedIn networking.” 

Hopin, another startup that recently emerged, has a similar approach. The platform combines live-streamed presentations with virtual networking, including a ChatRoulette-style feature for meeting other attendees. “You go physically to network with people, to interact with people. And that’s what we solve,” says Hopin’s founder, Johnny Boufarhat to Crunchbase News.

Still, conference events form a trillion-dollar industry in which millions of people participate each year. Yes, the conception of virtual conferencing is a solution. But, many argue that there is no adequate alternative to live physical conferences because that’s where the networking takes place. 

We’ll have to watch this one evolve as so does public health. Stay in the loop with us at StarterNoise and be among the first to know when something big happens.

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