Posts Tagged ‘conference’

Conference business thoughts from @JeffPulver

Some nuggets from a Mixergy interview with Jeff Pulver (wikipedia). 

“The conference business when it works, is one of the most highly profitable businesses that is legal.”

“The more I charged, the more people came.” It’s a credibility thing. In telecom, its corporate money, take as much as you want (its not individual money). With competition, someone always wants to outspend another in sponsorships, etc.

However with a waning economy in 2010, the 140conf charged $140. EBITDA is poor, but you get folk. Inspiration for these lower prices came from Fred Wilson’s post about conferences.

He didn’t start out with a professional conference/event management firm. He built conferences based on the ones that he had attended before.

He never pays for speakers (with one exception: Scott Adams). He gets paid $40,000 per speech. He does occasionally cover travel costs. He has sponsors from hotels so accommodation is usually taken care of.

Very open about his numbers, earnings, business (he had many including a record label), failings, etc. in his interview. Well worth a listen if you have the time.

Parting thought: you have to occasionally reboot your buddy list. I can agree – different friends take you thru different parts of life.

Conferences selling out forget about the rest of the world

2011 seems to be a good year for both Google I/O and Apple’s WWDC. Google I/O sold out in 59 minutes and Apple’s WWDC sold out in under 10 hours. They’re both held at the Moscone Center and I guess the caps for attendance is usually set at about 4,000-5,000 attendees.Flinders Street Station

My only beef with this is that the rest of the world is forgotten. It’s only good for the developer sitting in North America (or a similar timezone). In fact folk that need to get corporate approval are probably also forgotten. Launching at 9 or 10am PST is past midnight in China and Singapore for example. Its even later in Japan. What about developers sitting in Sydney & Melbourne?

Google takes an open approach to this. They will have live streaming available and are organising extended events (which again, think about the timezones — they work if you’re all together in San Francisco but you’d be hard pressed to find a venue that will let in twenty geeks at 2-6am). Apple will provide recorded video later to registered developers.

However developers in the rest of the world miss out on all the interactions, face-to-face sessions, hands-on labs, meeting other developers, and all the parties and late-nights in where partnerships get made, and new ideas get formed. The networking is why people go to these conferences, in addition to learning about the latest and greatest. I remember years back at WWDC that people will install the latest beta of OS X on their laptops at WWDC itself!

Sun Microsystems used to boast that JavaOne had over 15,000 attendees. Oracle OpenWorld claims over 41,000 attendees. Maybe its time to grow out of Moscone West and use the whole Moscone Center?

I urge Google and Apple to think about the rest of the world. Yes, we will take time out of our schedules to fly to San Francisco, put up at a hotel, all for the opportunity at being at one of these conferences. Not only for the content, but all the relationships we will make, with other attendees and of course, your engineers.

FOSSASIA this week!

I’m stoked to be going to FOSSASIA this week. It is in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam from 12-14 November (thats this week on Friday-Sunday). There’s a pretty large amount of activities going on, including a MiniDebConf. There also seem to be a huge amount of topics being covered and some pretty interesting speakers, so I can’t hardly wait.

If you’re into MariaDB or MySQL, come catch me at:

  • Friday, 10.15-10.30am: 15-minute lightning talk on MariaDB
  • Saturday, 3.30-4.30pm: talk on MariaDB
  • Sunday, 9.00-11.00am: a hand’s on workshop introducing you to MariaDB/MySQL

I come into Saigon in the evening on the 11th, and depart in the morning on the 15th, but if you have time and want to catch up, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at colin AT askmonty DOT org.

Conversations at the MySQL Conference

Today, for me is day 1 of the MySQL Confernece & Expo 2009. It seems to be going pretty well – and its only 2.45pm.

If you follow Planet MySQL, or happen to just have random conversations with people, the main buzz for the day is “Oracle buying Sun”. But let me not bore you with that. I just want to log some of my interesting conversations.

Over lunch I had a good discussion with users of MySQL, and one potential user of MySQL (his company uses Oracle, MS SQL Server, Sybase, and are now looking at MySQL). We talked about quite a number of things:

  • The documentation (which I, and the rest of the MySQL users use) seems to not be complete for an Oracle person. Why? It seems we’re missing out on things like the models. We lack enough theory. People would like to “see” (visually) what the InnoDB buffer pool does, not just read about it. In fact, it also seems like we might need to be clearer with the use of commands. And for the first time, I have found out that if you’re coming from an Oracle background, you might find the comments at the end of the manual, to be kind of confusing — also, some believe the comments are irrelevant and misguide you. Wow! I mean, this is open source, we’d like the manual to also be kind of open source… ;)
  • There seems to be a misconception amongst potential users that MySQL is only great for the Web. It fails in everything enterprise related. I know, if you’re reading this, you’re thinking this is just insane – but think again – if you’re reading this, I’m preaching to the choir. MySQL is Enterprise ready, but I think the message needs to reach out to the greater community. Heck, if you’re showing up to the conference, kudos, we’ve reached you, but its just a drop in the ocean.
  • Backups. “Why is it that you have to pay for ibbackup? This stuff is supposed to be free.” Well, the open source advocates still need to reach out further. The argument that once you start paying for MySQL Enterprise, and once you start paying for hot backups, you start realising that the database is costing you more than you need. I brought up the point that even if you use Linux, you do pay for subscriptions — but the argument back was that you can at least figure out how to do it for free. True, but its similar in MySQL land — you’ve got mylvmbackup, you could setup a replication slave and use that for backups, there are third party tools like Zmanda’s backup one, and if you wait for MySQL 6, there will also be online backup. Anyway, this isn’t about backups – its about paying for open source software.
  • I know that a big network in Russia, with over 22 million users, use MySQL 4.1. The DBA goes forth and basically tells their developers not to use a lot of features, and they’ve managed to skirt around it, with no problem.
  • Libraries use MySQL.

For many, this is their first MySQL Conference. For some, they’ve been coming on-and-off since 2005.

Tutorial quality? If you follow Twitter, you’ll know that some people enjoy their tutorials, while some don’t. Most don’t want to be in a tutorial, in where the speaker talks about everything on the slide deck — because that’s something you can do yourself by sitting at home. People want a mix of war stories. I think this alone is pretty good advice for speakers. But always remember, you can’t always please everyone.

Cloudera’s tutorial in the afternoon was most amazing — you had to watch a bunch of videos, get a VM ready, and a lot more preparation. They went to, in quite some depth about the Facebook architecture (Amy Lin, from Facebook was surprised how much they knew — I suggested that, most of the information is mostly public anyway). This didn’t seem like a tutorial to attend if you were new to Hadoop, and if you’d not completed the prep, you might have been left out.

Sheeri and Patrick spent a lot of time in the shell, and inside MySQL. But I learned quite a bit about metadata.

I wish I took down more notes, but there’s some level of running around that I was required to do.

Follow @MySQLConf on Twitter. The Twitter serach for mysqlconf is also good for the “streaming river of information”.

Did I already mention people talking about Oracle buying Sun? Everyone is wondering about the future of MySQL and more. Its all just speculation people. Wait and see. That’s the most informed approach. I can respect that analysts have opinions, but it doesn’t mean anything. I like Marten’s candid response, though. Marten knows how to get a message across.

Power. Power is being rolled out in all rooms, there should be power plugs in every three rows. But that seemed to be an issue. The Internet mostly works, things are “fixed”, so you should be able to suck mail via IMAP, and connect elsewhere via SSH.

Oh, I met up with Chuck Hagenbuch and Leigh Heyman, who are giving the closing keynote from the Obama team. The Googler’s are a little busy, and will be around on Thursday, and the closing keynote titled “Database We Can Believe In: Stories from the Front Lines (and Server Rooms) of Barack Obama’s Online Presidential Campaign” is going to rock.

Whom else did I meet? What other interesting conversations did I have? I hope I remember to script them down. After all, conferences are made with conversations. And conversations are social networking 1.0. Have them.

/me is about to run for a conference call right about now, and its only mid-day. So many more great conversations await :-) Career fair, booze at the bar, what more can I ask for?
(ok, I can ask for everything to just run smoothly over the next few days. And I hope everyone has a ball of a time!)

OSDC.my 2009 != foss.my

Just to set the record straight, OSDC.my 2009 has no relation to foss.my. They have a different theme, a highly swank location (i.e. not a place of higher education), it is not community run (there are community members in the committee though), and its sponsored by MDEC.

In fact, I’m not even sure what the event is called – it may differ between OSDC.my to MSC OSCON.my. Mad props to the folk behind the real OSDC (community run, in a different city within Australia) and O’Reilly’s OSCON, since their names are really popular :-)

Now, what about foss.my 2009? Its about time we started planning for the event. foss.my 2008 was most successful, held during November 8-9 2008, but a lot of students complained — they didn’t like the time, as they had exams before or after the event (heck, even one of the crew members, had an exam the next day!).

So, let me ask a few questions, and feel free to reply in comments:

  1. What timeframe would work best for foss.my 2009? In terms of a month, is September or October better? Keep in mind we don’t want other event clashes.
  2. Do you want foss.my 2009 to be longer? Two days, with two tracks, seemed to be a little short for people.
  3. If so, how many days do you want foss.my 2009 to be?
  4. Do you want it to run through the weekend (so maybe Saturday, Sunday, Monday)?

International folk should answer this too… because you’ll probably be coming to attend, to speak, to mingle, etc. Do you want to come at a time when Malaysia has a colourful event? Do you want to see parts of KL or other parts of Malaysia?

Disclosure: I don’t speak for anyone else on the past/current/future foss.my committee, just myself.

Open Source Economy Conference 2008

Last week I found out about the Open Source Economy Conference 2008 held in Putrajaya, Malaysia on the 19th of November 2008. Its co-organised by Sun and the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC). Its also the “launch” of MySQL in Malaysia.

I only mention this because I’m speaking – check the agenda out. Don’t hesitate to register now.


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