GSMA CMO: ‘MWC will return next year’

After being left with no choice but to cancel Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020 and Shanghai 2020 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the GSMA is cutting 20% of its 1,000 person staff, as part of a wider cost-cutting plan looking to save 40% on current-year budgets. Bloomberg reported that GSMA earns roughly 80% of its annual revenue from MWC Barcelona, making this year’s cancellation a devastating blow.

A GSMA spokesperson provided further details regarding the layoffs in an email to SDxCentral, saying the association had to “examine [its]priorities and make some difficult choices.”

“Reducing staff is always difficult but seems particularly unjust when market conditions outside our control drive the decisions. We are proud of our team, grateful for their work, and acknowledge that this situation is not a reflection on their work, contribution, or potential,” the spokesperson added.

Even before the official cancellation of MWC Barcelona, one of the GSMA’s largest events, there was trouble, as the industry’s most prominent companies began to drop out one-by-one citing COVID-19, whose serious impact was just beginning to make itself known around the world.

The day before dismissing 200 of its employees, GSMA announced a new “online stage,” a series of virtual events called GSMA Thrive.

“At a time when connectivity has never mattered more, the GSMA is excited to offer a new online stage. This is the first of a series of exciting enhancements to achieve GSMA’s Vision: to unlock the power of connectivity so that people, industry and society thrive,” said John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA. “Like our physical events, our new GSMA Thrive platform shows how the GSMA is continuously innovating ways to harness the collective knowledge of global decision-makers and industry leaders.”

While GSMA’s CMO Stephanie Lynch-Habib indicated that the association isn’t expected to fully recover from the loss of revenue until 2023, she did confirm that MWC will return next year, but will mostly likely incorporate more remote participation, as some attendees will prefer to maintain social distancing.

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