Citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the rush to move business activities online, O’Reilly Media president Laura Baldwin announced that the publisher and technology education platform is canceling all future in-person symposiums and closing that portion of its business. Baldwin said the company will focus its efforts on developing online event services and remote digital platforms.
In a letter to staff and customers, Baldwin noted O’Reilly Media was forced to cancel its Strata Data & AI conferences, which study the use of big data analysis, for California and London originally scheduled for March and April, respectively. Much like every other industry, she wrote, the technology sector has been forced to cancel and postpone all kinds of conferences as a result of the need to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It has been a rough few weeks as we’ve seen the Covid-19 virus take a toll on our livelihoods, our families and the world economy. People are losing their lives,” Baldwin wrote, “without understanding when this global health emergency may come to an end, we can’t plan for or execute on a business that will be forever changed as a result of this crisis. We’ve made the very difficult decision to cancel all future O’Reilly in-person conferences and close down this portion of our business.”
Baldwin acknowledged that the decision will mean either the layoff or departure of staff working in those divisions. “We are sad that as part of this decision, we have employees leaving us today who ran our in-person events business with precision and grace. We thank them for all of their contributions.”
The decision to shutter the conferences came in response to the cancellations and conference shutdowns, she said, which forced O’Reilly to move one of the Strata conferences online. Going forward O'Reilly will focus on online services and conference events. “We are poised to accept that challenge, having already delivered a version of our Strata event on-line to over 4,600 participants last week. With over 5,000 companies and 2.5 million users on our learning platform, we look forward to innovating and bringing together the technology communities and businesses we serve in new and creative ways.”
Founded in 1978 by Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media has a long history of organizing conferences that focus on spreading information about the use and impact of technology, among them, the Tools of Change (which ran from 2007-2013), an annual conference focused on the impact of technology on the publishing industry. The company is also a digital and print publisher in addition to directing an online learning platform.