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.
Rob is definitely in the upper echelon of professionalism in this industry. I have not had the opportunity to meet him yet, but I applaud his innovation and professional demeanor.
I am concerned about this platform being “killed” by Google.
Any thoughts as to how that will not happen?
Andrew Allemann says
@ Mark – yes, you need to add worthwhile fresh content.
Leonard Britt says
While corporate America often pays little attention to domain names, IMO domainers frequently identify domains which would be useful to them. Sometimes it seems the best way to illustrate that potential value is via development. In a very short period of time, EPIK has come onto to the scene offering a number of innovative development options which hopefully will change the way corporate America looks at domain names. And even EPIK admits they are still early in the game of taking domain development to a new “dimension.”
Jeff Edelman says
Great post, Andrew. I like how you emphasized the professionalism of the conference. Because as I already told Rob, what stood out for me the most was the professionalism of Rob and his team. Epik is clearly and genuinely interested in taking raw domains and making them into worthwhile sites. That’s a hard task and there is no guarantee that it will work longterm. But that is definitely what they are trying to do and they should be commended and supported for doing so. I enjoyed meeting you. And I enjoyed meeting Rob and his team. Was definitely worthwhile.
Andrew Allemann says
My only feedback for Rob — start the day a little bit later 🙂
M. Menius says
Andrew – Was the Epik developer platform significantly different from DevHub? Or more similar in design and capability?
Andrew Allemann says
@ M. Menius – it’s completely different from DevHub. They use(d) DevHub for their reference portals at first, but I think now it’s all custom.
Jeff, that was a long ride for you.
Jay Lohmann says
It was a great pleasure to finally meet you in person after following your posts for so many years. As both a sponsor and speaker of the conference, I actually awaited your unbiased opinion of the conference the most – and very excited to see that it matches well with the responses on Rob’s Epik blog (an incredibly honest assessment of what went well and what can be improved) as well as the responses on Frager’s post. There was some high-level development conversations going on and people really working together and sharing best practices of how built a successful domain development platform for domain investors. I spoke with attendees who had 100, 1k, 30k and 300+k domains under management and no egos involved…just collaborative exchange of ideas. The social networking and blog chatter yesterday was incredible for a conference under 100, but quality is better than quantity. Epik has the team to solve the problems of monetization on a large scale in a short amount of time and the white hat approach to keep it viably successful for the long term.
…and the domain swap… THAT was a crazy event to be a part of. Quality domains flying around the room for cheap and people successfully consolidating. You will see more of that at other domain shows.
Huge congrats to Rob and Epik, thanks to all the attendees and you, Andrew, for your unbiased opinion and write-up.