TikTok drops SXSW appearances as coronavirus fears continue to disrupt festival
TikTok announced Tuesday that it too would be canceling plans to attend SXSW this year, joining a list of high-profile tech companies that have decided to sit out the festival amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
“TikTok has decided not to participate in SXSW this year,” a spokeswoman told Ad Age in an e-mail statement on Tuesday. “While we think the risk is relatively low, we are erring on the side of caution as we prioritize safety for our team, creators, partners, artists and brands. We are looking at a variety of alternative ways to bring parts of the previously scheduled experience to audiences in creative new forms.”
Even as TikTok dropped out, joining a handful of other tech companies to skip the event, SXSW was still adding to its lineup. On Tuesday, the festival touted the addition of comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani, Chris Evans of "Captain America" fame, and journalist Tamron Hall. On Monday, the festival added Hillary Rodham Clinton.
TikTok was not immediately available for further comment. The app startup is based in China but has been expanding its presence in the U.S. with new offices and staff. Executives from the company were set to speak on panels, meet with creators and talk with partners like publishers that use the app, according to SXSW’s schedule.
TikTok has become one of the biggest sensations in social media among young people and is expected to reach more than 50 million U.S. users by 2021, according to eMarketer. The company has been making the rounds at industry events like last year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
SXSW has been hit by a number of cancelations from skittish tech companies, including Twitter, Facebook and Vevo. Companies are pulling out from the tech, film and music lineup because of concerns over coronavirus, which has started affecting cities in the U.S. Austin officials are maintaining confidence that the event can go on, however. This week, SXSW organizers said they are working with local and federal health officials, and that the festival can proceed.
Meanwhile, there have been a number of other industry events and conferences affected. On Tuesday, Google canceled Google I/O its yearly developer conference set for May. Instead the internet giant planned to stream the conference for an online audience. Facebook and Adobe have also made similar adjustments to developer conferences.