Kent German, Andrew Morse




March 10, 2020

The coronavirus impact: Here's how COVID-19 has affected the tech industry

laptop with mask on top

Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash

The novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in the global technology industry. Many companies have shut factories and banned business-related travel, and major industry events like Facebook's F8, the Geneva Motor Show, Google I/O and Mobile World Congress continue to be called off because of the outbreak.

COVID-19 emerged in the Wuhan region of China's Hubei province late last year and has symptoms similar to those of pneumonia. It was first reported to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31, with Chinese scientists linking the disease to a family of viruses that includes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). The disease has killed more than 3,200 people, and more than 94,000 people have been infected in more than 60 countries.


Here's how the outbreak is affecting some of the biggest names in technology:




Coronavirus in pictures: Scenes from around the world


  • Announced it's "recommending" all Seattle, Puget Sound area and San Francisco Bay Area employees who are "in a job that can be done from home should do so through March 25." Company president Brad Smith also said it'll continue to pay its hourly campus workers their regular wages even if their work hours are reduced.
  • Warned investors that revenue in the business segment that includes its Windows operating system and Surface devices would likely miss earlier forecasts.








  • Temporarily suspended roughly 240 user accounts in Mexico to prevent the spread of coronavirus after those users had come in contact with two drivers possibly exposed to the virus.


  • Lyft is encouraging employees at its San Francisco headquarters to work from home this week after one team member was found to be "in contact with someone who was exposed to COVID-19." The ride-share company confirmed the news March 5.


  • Closed its new plant in Shanghai for a planned week and a half after the Chinese government told private companies to temporarily cease operations.
  • Warned investors that the shutdown may "slightly" affect first-quarter profits.



  • IBM tweeted March 9 it's encouraging employees who live and work in New York City or Westchester County to work from home until further notice if their job permits. Both areas are subject to coronavirus community spread.



  • Cloudflare is offering its Cloudflare for Teams, a suite of security tools, to small businesses affected by the coronavirus for free for six months. It's also helped launch in an industry effort, called, to support small companies.
  • The company is letting employees in affected regions work remotely.

Industry events

Several prominent industry events were canceled or revamped because of concerns over the coronavirus. They include:

  • Mobile World Congress, an annual industry gathering that had been scheduled to open on Feb. 24 in Barcelona.
  • Facebook's March marketing summit and its its F8 developer conference.
  • The Geneva Motor Show, one of the largest car shows of the year, after the Swiss government banned all events of 1,000 people or more.
  • The annual Adobe Summit in Las Vegas. Instead the company says some content will be offered online.
  • Google I/O, the company's biggest event of the year, where the tech giant announces its newest products and initiatives.
  • Chipmaker Nvidia decided to make its GPU Technology Conference, typically held in San Jose and attracting an audience of about 10,000 people, a digital-only event with a webcast planned March 24.
  • Snap, the parent company of messaging app Snapchat, has decided to make its annual Snap Partner Summit an online-only event with a keynote scheduled for April 2.

Also, the annual Game Developers Conference, originally scheduled to take place March 16 to 20 in San Francisco, has been postponed to an unspecified date after exhibitors such as Amazon, Microsoft, Epic Games, Sony, EA and Facebook dropped out.

The annual cybersecurity RSA Conference took place as scheduled in late February in San Francisco, but major exhibitors like IBM, Verizon and AT&T Cybersecurity backed out.

CNET's Andrew Morse, Corinne Reichert, Ben Fox Rubin, Jackson Ryan, Shara Tibken, Lynn La, Sean Szymkowski, Dara Kerr, Queenie Wong, Oscar Gonzalez, Dan Ackerman, Stephen Shankland, Chris Paukert, Erin Carson, Edward Moyer and Sean Keane contributed to this report.

First published on January 30, 2020 2:18 PM PST.

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