Miika Huttunen, chief executive of Slush, said it was the “only responsible course of action” because they could not guarantee the safety of everyone involved and wanted to behave responsibly towards their partners and vendors.
“If we would have been forced to make the call to cancel or postpone closer to the event there would have been ramifications not only to Slush but also to our community of partners, vendors and visitors,” he said.
But the move is far more cautious than other similar conferences in Europe.
The annual TNW (The Next Web) tech conference in Amsterdam set to take place in June was not cancelled, but pushed back to October. The Hello Tomorrow event in Paris was pushed back to October and Money 20/20 in Amsterdam pushed to September. It is still not clear what will happen to the Vivatech conference in Paris.
Huttunen insisted, however, that it was the responsible move to warn partners and vendors early rather than stringing them along and cancelling at the last moment. “In addition to the wellbeing of people, it would also be irresponsible to overlook the unprecedented financial risks for everyone involved,” he said.
The cancellation once again highlights the hammer blow that the coronavirus pandemic has been to the whole events sector, with tech- and startup-focused events badly hit. In the early weeks of the crisis, back in February, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was cancelled and dozens of others — both big and small — have followed.
Many events — including SaaStock, Impact Summit, CogX, Midem and Leeds Digital Festival — have moved at least parts of their events online. Huttunen said that Slush would now consider its options, which could mean some kind of digital offering.
"We are not going to give up on our mission as finding solutions is part of Slush's DNA,” he said. “Slush was born in 2008 in the middle of an uncertain economic climate, much like now. Back then, Slush was seen as a beacon of hope, and we want to find solutions that give hope amid uncertainty also now.”