DevDays 2011 is Cancelled

by Joel Spolsky

on September 6, 2011

DevDays has been canceled, due to poor attendance.

It’s my fault, actually. I took a perfectly good thing (DevDays ’09) and gold plated it until it was a different thing.

DevDays ’09 was one day. So even people who couldn’t get their boss to let them go to a conference could take a vacation day or something. Everyone told us “Great conference! Too short!” So version 2.0 had to be longer, we thought. Two days!

Oh, also, DevDays ’09 was $99.  We pulled that off by being cheap. Really cheap. So even people who couldn’t get their boss to pay could afford to spring for the conference themselves. But the cheapness resulted in lousy A/V, bad or non-existent coffee, very rudimentary food (when we had it), no Wi-Fi, and lots of other minor privations. In the grand spirit of 2.0, we decided to make all this stuff better, and to cover the costs by a modest increase in list price from $99 to $499.

Oh, one more thing: DevDays ’09 was in ten different cities. So  lots of people could attend without flying anywhere or getting a hotel room. But the grueling schedule of ten cities was incredibly hard work, so we thought, let’s have bigger conferences in fewer cities.

All this great 2.0 thinking had us building a really amazing conference series. We had great venues, great A/V, great food, insane Wi-fi,  and of course, a schedule of two days of great speakers lined up in each city.

What we didn’t have was an affordable, one-day, painless, no-brainer conference. So registration was surprisingly slow. And we just didn’t get enough people to make it work. Ooops.

I spent 20 years in the software industry where the marginal cost is close to zero and you can always make version 2.0 better without increasing your costs. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it! In the real world, though, $99 conferences are completely different than $499 conferences, and I take full responsibility for screwing up DevDays.

FAQ

Q: I registered anyway. Will I get a refund?

A: Yes, this will happen automatically. If you have any trouble or questions email Alex & Alison at devdays@stackoverflow.com for help.

Q: What about the ServerFault Scalability Conference?

A: That has been canceled, also.

Q: What about the hackathon in Washington, DC? A: We’ll let you know. We are still planning to hold the Stack Exchange company meeting in Washington, so we will try to organize some public event at the same time.

Q: Why don’t you just scale back to $99, one-day conferences?

A: Unfortunately, the four conferences we planned this year were going to be held at much larger venues and would have cost way too much to put on, so we can’t just trim them back to one day, $99 events.

Q: What are you going to do in the future?

A: We want to work on a much larger number of much smaller events in far more cities, such as meet-ups and individual talks sponsored by Stack Overflow.