Friday, March 6, 2020

Area41 postponed to June 2021

Today, after careful deliberation and with a heavy heart, we have decided to not go forward with Area41 2020 due to the highly uncertain situation due to Covid-19 with regards to travel, the constraints placed on events in Zurich and Switzerland as a whole, and first and foremost our concern for the health and safety of our attendees, volunteers, and speakers.

Before we go ahead and explain in more detail what has led to this decision, here are the facts up front:

Area41 will shift by one year and happen in June 2021
Tickets purchased for 2020 can either be fully refunded within the next 100 days or remain valid for 2021

With that out of the way, here is why there is no Area41 2020:

A lot of speakers can't come

We always strived to be a highly technical conference getting the best speakers we possibly can to deliver great content and, as importantly, be available to help you learn and grow professionally. Due to the travel constraints many large corporations have now in place for months to come with no end in sight, committing to travel to Area41 is hard, sometimes impossible. We have invested hours trying to find solutions, but the reality is that we can most likely not create a lineup this year that meets your and our own standards. And even if we would manage to pull off this feat, we would need to bear the uncertainty of last-minute cancellations, including the financial consequences of no-shows. In addition to that, we have already received refund requests from some attendees which are not allowed to travel either till the end of the summer due to changed company policies.

We can't cover all our bases

Area41 is entirely run by volunteers. The core team that has put up hashdays/Area41 for the past ten years counts 3-5 people, not counting on-the-day volunteers. Planning, preparing, and running a conference is hard enough and especially the final couple of weeks and months take a heavy toll. The current situation adds a ton of additional work on top of that, in order to cover all the possible scenarios on how the virus itself, and the restrictions that are associated with it, can completely disrupt our careful planning. We have actual jobs, responsibilities, and families to take care of and at this point we feel it would be irresponsible to ignore the magnitude of the additional effort required, with no guaranteed happy ending. Many other events, including much bigger tickets like Google I/O, Facebook F8, and GDC, are in similar situations and have, sadly, reached a similar conclusion.

Most importantly: We care about your health

It is easy to lose sight of what is really the primary goal in making a tough decision like this: We don't want you, or your loved ones, or anyone in the community, to get sick. Area41 attracts many visitors from all over Europe and beyond and while this is usually one of the things we are most proud of, it is not very helpful in this specific case. We had detailed discussions with the local authorities on the involved risks and the responsibility we bear. Like many others, we hope that this can be contained sooner rather than later. But at this point, we would rather err on the side of caution than to bear responsibility for others pain.

What does this mean for Area41/DC4131

We are currently talking to our sponsors and partners to find solutions on how to proceed. On a financial side, this has the potential for a quite significant loss - though not as significant as if we had waited longer and ended up having to cancel on short notice.

If you already have purchased a ticket then you can either get it fully refunded or hold onto it as a valid entry ticket for 2021. We will contact ticket holders shortly via email.

In a closing remark, we would like to apologize to everyone that was looking forward to the event. We are sorry we can't give you the great conference this summer that many of you have been eagerly anticipating. We’ve poured our heart and soul into this event for over a decade now and we, too, are disappointed about the circumstances we do now find ourselves in. We do hope you understand that this was, in any conceivable way, a very tough decision for us to make and that we are trying to do the right thing by putting the health of our guests, our speakers, and our staff first.

Stay healthy and keep hacking,
The Area41 Committee

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