Big tech conferences aren’t coming back – Protocol

Big tech conferences aren’t coming back – Protocol

Good morning! Do you miss roaming a convention center with a tech conference badge? Or the summer camp vibe of reuniting with industry peers you haven’t seen in years? Well, the virtual events necessitated by the pandemic appear to be sticking around. So is the in-person tech event a thing of the past? I’m Allison Levitsky, and I once worked as a Frida Kahlo impersonator at SFMOMA.

RIP IRL tech events

The pandemic’s darkest days have passed and in-person gatherings are back, but the virtual events that emerged during the pandemic have staying power. Some of tech’s biggest conferences are hanging on to a hybrid element — if not remaining entirely online.

We’re fully into year three of the pandemic, and Big Tech’s conferences are still mostly virtual. The events once packed thousands of attendees into large convention centers in exotic locales like San Jose and Las Vegas, but this week, Apple announced that its annual developers conference would once again be an online event, and Facebook parent company Meta is also putting its annual developers event on pause.

  • Meta is putting F8 on ice to focus on “building the metaverse.” The company told Protocol that it’s still contemplating how F8 will evolve and that online events allow for more-focused content and a wider audience.
  • Meta is still planning other developer events, including an “inaugural business messaging event” called Conversations on May 19. That event is — you guessed it — entirely virtual. Hybrid events might be possible in the future, Meta said.
  • On May 11-12, Google I/O will be broadcast for a “limited live audience,” which spokesperson Alex Garcia-Kummert said would be mostly Google employees along with some partners and developers. The event is free to anyone online.
  • Apple is taking a similar approach: WWDC will take place online from June 6-10, with an in-person keynote and State of the Union viewing event at Apple Park on June 6. (Developers and students have to apply to attend the in-person get-together.)
  • That’s the third year in a row WWDC will take place virtually, and the second for Google I/O.

Other companies are going all-in on hybrid conferences. This combines the benefits of in-person gatherings — networking, more immersive experiences, a captive audience — with the wider audience and deeper focus of online sessions.

  • Salesforce is hosting a developer conference, TrailblazerDX, in San Francisco later this month. While the company will put “limited episodes” from the conference on its streaming service, Salesforce+, the company is warning attendees that “the full experience” will be found in person.
  • VMware is also going with a hybrid approach for its VMware Explore event in August and September, which will take place both in San Francisco and online.
  • Salesforce’s Dreamforce event is on the calendar for late …….