Shopify has officially cancelled its annual developer conference, Unite, after initially looking to host a virtual event amid COVID-19.
In late February, Shopify made the decision to cancel all in-person elements of Shopify Unite, citing evolving public health concerns around COVID-19. At the time, CEO Tobi Lutke and CTO Jean-Michel Lemieux pointed to plans that were in the works to enable Shopify to still host the event virtually.
“We have decided to cancel Unite to focus on the health of our employees and work closely with our merchants.”
A recent update to Shopify Unite’s website addresses the fact that a virtual event is no longer in the works.
“We were excited to host a virtual Shopify Unite this year,” said Shopify. “However, the last two weeks have caused us to re-evaluate. We have decided to cancel Unite to focus on the health of our employees and work closely with our merchants to help them through these challenging times.”
Shopify’s original decision to cancel the in-person elements of Unite was around the time that the pandemic and social distancing were starting to ramp up in Canada. Canadian tech events including Collision, True North, and Startupfest, among others, all made decisions in late February or early March to cancel their respective events. The move came as many international events, eventually including the Olympics, were also cancelled in order to abide by social distancing recommendations outlined by public health agencies.
Some Canadian event organizations expressed interest in hosting virtual versions of events, a move that has also become common for accelerator and incubator programs looking to continue operations during the pandemic.
While Shopify will not be moving forward with a virtual version of Unite, tech conferences like Startupfest and Collision have already announced plans and programming to keep things moving forward. Others have decided to postpone until next year.