My thoughts on last week’s conference in Seattle.
I’ve re-written this blog post a couple times as I try to get my head around the Epik Developers Conference last week in Seattle. I’m reflecting on what it means for Epik as well as for the domain community. This is no easy task.
So I’m going to punt and go with a stream-of-conscious. Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first.
Professionalism – this is something often lacking in the domain name community. But it defined the Epik conference. First class hotel, food, and meeting space. More shocking was that everything started on time. It was like clockwork, never off by more than 10 minutes. That’s rare at a domain conference.
Content -Epik DevCon was a user conference. This means it focuses on giving clients information they need to have a mutually beneficial relationship with the company. About 60% of the content at DevCon was specific to Epik, including how its products are working, how people are getting the most out of Epik, and what’s coming in the future. The other 40% was more general, including SEO and social media.
People – as the first ever user conference for a startup, I guessed about 50-60 people would show up. I was wrong. 88 people registered, and a handful more came to the open events. That’s very strong. But more importantly was the quality of people. They were all open-minded. So energetic about the future. No egos in the room. OK, so I was there. And there was Chris Pirillo (I’m joking, Chris).
I made more new contacts and had more sit down conversations at this event than in most domain conferences. Attendees are still buzzing on the social networking site for the event. It was also great to see GoDaddy sponsoring the event, and I got to meet my GoDaddy account rep. I attend conferences for the people, and I was happy with the results.
Now let’s think about what this event means for the industry.
Epik has some of the right elements of a successful company — a respected leader, funding, strong customer base. Where that leads is hard to tell. I saw some really innovative ideas for web sites at the conference that can be leveraged into full-fledged web properties. And the energy of attendees was much higher than I’m used to seeing at a domain conference.
Some people will call what Epik does “mass development”. In the history of the web there has never been a mass development effort that hasn’t flailed out after a few years. Google killed them all. But I don’t look at Epik as a mass web site developer. Instead, I look at it as a platform. A platform that gives users the ability to create meaningful, user-friendly web sites that add value. Epik can deliver part of the puzzle, but clients need to run with it. Hopefully both pieces of the puzzle will click.
I can say that the attendees at last week’s conference are some of the most open-minded and energetic in the industry. They aren’t looking at the past; they’re looking at the future.
It gives me a lot of hope.