The Changing Landscape of Tech Conferences

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Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Federated Media CEO John Battelle discusses the business behind tech conferences with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg West." (Source: Bloomberg)

Around for a while.

I was sort of throwing up the names of all the old ones in the industry.

But there were pc forums back in the day.

There was a demo.

When you look at back at that business, who sort of made their first big names in this?

If you think about well-known leading bloggers today, those are the people that were putting on conferences 20 years ago.

Before they had blogs, there were newsletters.

These newsletters were subscription-based newsletters.

It came with a conference invite.

You got to go to these exclusive , invite-only conferences and mingle with the most important people.

You would pay $10,000 to pay for thoughts.


You would meet all of these other people who were running the industry.

I went to all of these as a reporter in the 1980s and 1990s. i started building the same model.

You reported in the 1980s? tell me about that.

[laughter] we used typewriters.

There would be a fancy hotel, scenic resorts.

The attendees would be whom?

They would be entrepreneur starting companies, the financiers who backed them, the press who wrote about them, all the different people in the ecosystem that created the innovation that was technology.

The idea of our conference was to turn it inside out.

Those conferences you would go to, it wouldn't be a startup guy on the corner.

It would be bill gates.

It was a great networking opportunity if you could get in.

What is the business model there?

We did some work.

You created out of the blue a really successful conference which you are trying to do again with openco.

What is the business model?

It is very simple.

You charge people to come, a lot of money.

He's tickets to conferences today are anywhere from $1500 to 500 -- $5,000. you have sponsors who give money to depart -- to be part of the conference material, have a logo, or have a moment on stage where they say a word or two.

It is the typical media model.

Ads and paid circulation.

It is a pretty straight forward business model.

What kind of revenues are at bigger conferences?

Forgetting oracle and other conferences, what kind of revenues are we talking about?

They really are in the single-digit millions of dollars.

The very successful ones can get up to $5 million, $6 million.

Then they get stuck.

You can only put so many people in a ballroom.

Not so when you have been roaming the streets of seven cisco at openco.

The web two summit we did for eight years.

On the ninth year when i was trying to get geared up to doing it again, and it was very profitable, a great business, i just could not do it anymore.

I said, why is it?

Putting people up on stage and having them talk at other people was a model that everybody seem to be doing.

It was harder and harder to compete.

I wanted to think about how to reinvent it.

My partner and i came up with this great idea of turning it inside out and letting people go to the places were the innovation was happening, go inside the actual company and hear from the founders in their native environment.

A very different experience.

Are you losing the sort of communal aspect where people get together?

One of the things that was so successful about the industry- standard conferences, you have a startup person who knew if they bought the ticket, even if it was the last dollars they had in their company, they would be sitting next to a vc.

They might get another round of funding.

That is the value of the networking opportunities.

We put them into openc as well -- open co as well.

We have a kickoff event we will do in the beginning.

Each of the difference defense have their own little networking opportunities.

There are 135 of them.

Someone who chooses a particular company probably chooses it does they have some reason to be there, and everyone getting there, it depends.

Bloomberg might be 60-70 people.

Google is taking 100 people.

They are almost like 130 five miniconference is going along the way.

People do meet ups at the end of

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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