Organizer regrets Culver City conference


Tech executive Peter Diamandis apologized to the general public for hosting a conference in Culver City that resulted in the infection of about 25% of the 74 people at the conference contracting COVID-19. Diamandis, who is the CEO of tech entreprenuership contest organizer XPRIZE, reflected on his decision in a personal blog post on Feb. 12

“I’m humbled and pained by what I learned,” Diamandis begins his post.

He then gives some context for the conference, saying that it was an adaptation of a conference he had normally put on for over 400+ tech minds prior to COVID. 

Diamandis explained that there was originally a plan to convert this conference — called Abundance 360- — into a 150 person outdoor event, but those plans were soon scrapped for a virtual conference from Jan. 23 to 26.

However, to host this conference, 84 workers were brought into the XPRIZE offices to set up and coordinate the event, resulting in two dozen people contracting the virus.

Diamandis notes that there were efforts to create an “immunity bubble” on the site, including requiring all those reporting on site to submit a rapid COVID-19 test in the 72 hours prior to arrival, another one when they arrived at the offices, and an additional test every morning of the production. In total, those in attendence was tested a minimum of five times over four days, according to Diamandis. 

Masks were required between venues, but not in the studio.

Diamandis emphasized that he learned something about the effectiveness of mask wearing through this experience, as none of the 35 members of the AV/Production team contracted COVID. 

This team was isolated in one corner of the office running the live broadcast, and wore masks 100% of the time.

“There are only three options…masks, vaccines and physical distance,” Diamandis laments. 

“I hope others can learn from my mistakes.”