Google Cloud’s Thomas Kurian: ‘A Lot Of Anxiety’ Around Coronavirus

Google Cloud customers and partners will meet online instead of in San Francisco for its annual Next ’20 conference, which has been rebranded as Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect.


Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian noted apprehension about the unknowns surrounding the global outbreak of the deadly coronavirus as a factor in changing the cloud provider’s annual Next ’20 conference to an online event.

“With the virus, there's obviously a lot of anxiety, because people are still trying to it spreads, what its impact is, because it's still early days,” Kurian told CRN on Tuesday. “We've seen…from the medical literature as well as from the WHO (World Health Organization) and the (U.S.) Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that isolation is a good vehicle to reduce the risk of spreading it. And so, rather than bring a lot of people to an auditorium, we thought that we would reach them through a digital medium.”

Google Cloud announced yesterday that its upcoming Next ’20 conference, which was slated for April 6-8 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, is being changed to a virtual format to limit travel amid the global outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

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In an email sent to attendees registered for the conference, Google Cloud said it is “transforming” its premier cloud computing event under new branding as Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect. The decision was made “in the interests of our customers as well as our employees,” Kurian told CRN at Google Cloud’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Kurian noted that while more than 30,000 people attended last year’s Next ’19 conference in person in San Francisco, “there were millions who watched it online.”

Joseph Tsidulko contributed to this report.