Facebook is canceling any physical events with more than 50 people through June 2021. CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted the news as part of an update on Facebook’s COVID-19 pandemic response, where he also said the “vast majority” of Facebook employees would work from home until at least the end of next month. The cancellations include the Oculus Connect 7 virtual reality conference in San Jose, which is being replaced by an online-only event.
“We will require the vast majority of our employees to work from home through at least the end of May in order to create a safer environment both for our employees doing critical jobs who must be in the office and for everyone else in our local communities,” writes Zuckerberg. Some employees, including moderators who cover terrorism and self-harm-related content, can’t work remotely. But “overall, we don’t expect to have everyone back in our offices for some time.”
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Zuckerberg notes that health experts don’t know when large gatherings will be advisable again, so Facebook is preemptively canceling physical events for the next year. That covers not only Oculus Connect but probably also the company’s main F8 conference, which is typically held in the spring. To make up for the loss in revenue from Oculus Connect 7, Facebook will donate $500,000 to the city of San Jose.
Much of Oculus Connect is already streamed online, but the show is also a chance for press and developers to check out prototype hardware and new games and apps. Facebook is extending its “no business travel” policy through June 2021 as well, so it’s doubtful it would even ask smaller groups to come see hardware. As for the rest, “we look forward to sharing more details about the digital event in the coming months.” One leak suggests Oculus is working on a new headset codenamed “Del Mar,” and the company could still announce news about it at the show — but with manufacturing supply chains currently in flux, it could be hitting pause on that project, too.