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IBM Cancels 30,000-Person Event in May Over Coronavirus Risks

Olivia Carville

(Bloomberg) -- Concerns over the coronavirus are putting an end to some of the biggest business conferences of the year. International Business Machines Corp. is the latest to cancel its main annual event, which was scheduled to draw some 30,000 people to San Francisco in May.

IBM said Wednesday it will instead stream video and other online content in place of the in-person convention for IBM Think 2020. The company also said it’s adopting stricter travel requirements for employees. That includes the suspension of all domestic travel for internal meetings, a ban on attending external events with more than 1,000 attendees through the end of this month and a two-week self-quarantine for those traveling to at-risk countries.

Companies are choosing to call off events that attract people from all over the world and minimize business travel over fears that the virus could spread. Google and Facebook Inc. each canceled its flagship conference in the last week. Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, two other massive gatherings for the technology industry, were also scrapped. On Monday, Twitter Inc. and Square Inc., two companies run by Jack Dorsey, advised their global employees to work from home.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Olivia Carville in New York at ocarville1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at mschuetz9@bloomberg.net, Mark Milian, Jillian Ward

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