In brief

  • New York has banned gathering of 500 or more people.
  • All events scheduled for NYC blockchain week are either cancelled, postponed or going digital.
  • It's all an effort to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

All major events for New York Blockchain week in May have effectively been canceled. Industry publication Coindesk is moving its massive Consensus event to digital. Likewise, Ethereum production studio ConsenSys is taking its Ethereal Summit digital. And crypto news site The Block is looking for a new date for its The Block Summit.

The move comes a day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that the state would ban all gatherings of more than 500 people due to concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus. He also said that any event of fewer than 500 would have to reduce its capacity by 50 percent.

In response, Coindesk said Friday it will move its Consensus event, originally scheduled for May 11-13, to the virtual realm. A joint announcement from Coindesk CEO Kevin Worth and Chief Content Officer Michael Casey posted on the company’s website read: “Consensus 2020 will now be a completely virtual experience, where attendees from all over the world can participate online at no charge.” The company promised a “TV-like experience” that people can enjoy safely from their homes.  

Coindesk said it would issue refunds to ticket holders within 60 days. There was no mention about refunds for sponsors. Worth, however, clarified in an email to Decrypt.

"Our sponsors are great partners and we are working closely with them on a number of different options including some very exciting opportunities to be part of the Consensus 2020 Virtual experience that we believe could reach a much larger audience than the physical event," he said. "If those options do not work for our sponsors, then we will provide them with a full refund."

Held annually in Manhattan, Consensus is widely considered the most significant event in the crypto space. Last year, the event drew in 4,000 attendees and, in 2018, during the crypto bubble, the event saw more than 8,500 attendees. According to a report in The Information last year, roughly 85% of Coindesk’s $25 million total revenue for 2018 came from events alone. 

Nevertheless, Coindesk expects "zero staff layoffs" as a result of the cancellation, according to Worth.

Likewise, ConsenSys also announced Friday that it was moving its Ethereal Summit event, scheduled May 7-8, to the virtual realm. (Disclosure: ConsenSys funds an editorially independent Decrypt.) The company said it will hold a separate in-person event to the fall of 2020, though it did offer an exact date. ConsenSys told Decrypt in an email that it plans to issue refunds and it is now focusing all of its energy "on delivering the first-ever Ethereal Virtual Summit 2020."

The Block also announced on Twitter that it is postponing its Summit until the fall. The startup said it will refund all of the ticket holders. And has not yet announced a date for the rescheduled event. Earlier, CEO Mike Dudas told Decrypt that he had expected 400 attendees.

Digital Asset Summit, scheduled to take place on May 13, has also been postponed. Magical Crypto Friends, which also holds a two-day event around Consensus in New York, has not said yet what it plans to do.

A global pandemic

Over the last several days, major events across the US and throughout the world have been cancelled in an effort to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Last week, the City of Austin issued an emergency order that effectively cancelled the annual SXSW festival, which was expected to bring the city close to $400 million in revenue.

Just days ago, sporting leagues such as the NBA and MLB suspended their seasons. And while several events are promising to reschedule for the fall, or even carry on as usual through 2021, health experts say that a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is not expected for a year to 18 months. The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the virus a global pandemic.