UPDATE: Feb. 24, 2020: Verizon withdrew Friday from RSA Conference 2020, joining AT&T Cybersecurity and 12 other sponsors or exhibitors which canceled, RSA Conference said in a statement. In total, 1.2% of attendees have canceled their registration, which is about 500 people. The conference historically draws more than 40,000 people each year.
Six companies from China withdrew because of travel restrictions and three exhibitors from China are staffing booths with people based in the U.S.
IBM is withdrawing from the RSA Conference 2020 in San Francisco next week because of concern about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), IBM Security said on Twitter Friday. The company was a platinum sponsor, the second-highest sponsorship level at the show.
IBM is one of eight organizations — six from China, one from the U.S. and one from Canada — that has canceled participation as a sponsor or exhibitor, RSA Conference said in a statement Friday.
The conference will proceed as planned even though 0.79% of attended canceled their registration, organizers said. Historically, the event draws more than 40,000 attendees, which correlates to approximately 316 attendees canceling registration this year.
The health of IBMers is our primary concern as we continue to monitor upcoming events and travel relative to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are cancelling our participation in this year's RSA conference.— IBM Security (@IBMSecurity) February 14, 2020
RSA Conference is one of the largest cybersecurity conferences, drawing attendees and exhibitors from around the world. Last year, the conference had 42,000 attendees, ahead of other major cybersecurity conferences such as Black Hat USA, which drew more than 20,000 attendees to Las Vegas last year.
While the conference said 82% of attendees and exhibitors are from the U.S., the outbreak has had a chilling effect on international technology gatherings. On Wednesday, GSMA canceled Mobile World Congress in Barcelona because of concern about COVID-19.
Uncertainty persists about how many individuals COVID-19 is impacting and where. The virus has infected more than 73,000 people worldwide, though the outbreak is centered in China, according to CBS News. There are 29 reported cases in the U.S., including 14 infected while on a cruise ship in Japan. As of Tuesday, the outbreak had killed 1,874 people.
The lingering question is what happens next. Forecasts say the outbreak will have a significant impact on the economy and was readily mentioned in Q4 earnings calls, reports Axios. Apple lowered its revenue guidance Monday because of COVID-19, which has constrained the iPhone supply chain.
RSA Conference is one of the earliest major technology conferences in the U.S. Other large business technology conferences, such as Google Cloud Next and the Red Hat Summit, don't take place until April. It's too soon to know how the infection will impact upcoming events.
Organizers say they're closely monitoring health risk related to the outbreak and are in talks with San Francisco to monitor new developments. As a precaution, the conference is adding more disinfectant and sanitizing stations.