When we started DerbyCon (6 1/2 DerbyCon’s ago), we had no idea what we were doing. None of us had run a conference. We were a group of friends wanting to put on a conference that was based on family, friends, and the community. Our first year we had substantial success and we found like-minded people that wanted to contribute and be a part of something special. Recognizing the need for collaboration, research, and where everyone was welcome – DerbyCon continued to grow in popularity.
This year our ticket sales sold out in three minutes.
We are so happy at the success of DerbyCon and what we first set out to do. We are also saddened that we can’t accommodate everyone in the community. We are happy that we will get to see so many amazing people, but saddened that folks who have come year after year couldn’t get a ticket. Believe us when we say, we want everyone to be able to come to DerbyCon. We want DerbyCon to be inclusive of the community, and a safe place to have a great time.
Most folks that have attended DerbyCon know that space is already an issue. Our “personal space” isn’t desirable when attending talks, but we have always tried to maintain a balance where you should be able to get into everyone’s talk without massive lines. We tweak it every year on the number to make it enjoyable for everyone. We could increase ticket sales at the Hyatt to the detriment to the experience for folks attending.
We won’t do that.
Some of this will be resolved next year, but it’s only a temporary patch. Next year we are moving from our beloved Hyatt over to the Marriott, which has double the space of the Hyatt. Two big ballrooms vs. one – large areas for traffic and congestion, and the ability to breath a little better. Why we say this is a temporary patch is that we are not planning on substantially increasing ticket sales for the conference. We will maybe increase ticket sales a bit next year to see how it goes, but we don’t plan on making DerbyCon massive. What this means is that DerbyCon is now at a point where ticket sales sell out in minutes vs. hours last year (or days in the past).
Our intent (which could someday change, who knows – but we doubt it) is not to grow DerbyCon to a large conference. We do this for fun and it’s just a group of friends that continue to drive everything you see behind the scenes. Everyone from the staff, security, and team whom dedicate countless hours, weeks, and months to make it possible. To our attendees that make the family feel what it is. We want to thank everyone who makes DerbyCon possible and to the folks whom are understanding that the conference continues to gain in popularity.
Now on to the ticket sale times. Out of the first conference we put together, traditions were born. We open up training tickets a few days early, we throw two parties (Friday and Saturday), we have 30 minute stable talks, we do beta runs on the ticket sales, we smash our drinking records each year at the Hyatt, we hang and drop weird objects from the ceilings of the Hyatt, we open up tickets a few minutes early every year, and countless more. The first year we opened up DerbyCon (DerbyCon 1.0 – 6 1/2 years ago), we had created a barcode system from scratch and we really had no idea how it would work or how many people we would attract. We also were running on ancient hardware and had no idea how our hardware even do when handling people going to the website. We were also so excited about throwing our own first conference that we couldn’t wait until the time, and opened up tickets hours early.
This started a tradition, each year since DerbyCon 1.0 we’ve released tickets early. Ranging from a day all the way to a few minutes early. Last year we opened up ticket sales a few minutes early, and tickets sold out within a few hours (DerbyCon 6). We’ve never kept this a secret, we’ve been doing it for 6 1/2 years. Mostly recently, @HackingDave tweeted about it, put it up on blogs, did a podcast on how we open up ticket sales early, and much more. We didn’t hide it, we are always talking about ticket sales, and do this year after year. Again, it is the same every year and it’s never been an issue. No problem right? Flash forward to this year. We had no idea, absolutely no idea ticket sales would sell out in 3 minutes. Zero. We opened up ticket sales 5 minutes early at 12:55PM ET. Tickets sold out in 3 minutes which means individuals that didn’t know we opened ticket sales up early all of a sudden couldn’t get tickets.
Understandably some were upset that they didn’t get tickets at the exact time it was published on the site and opened early. We understand that, but we also like our traditions and how we’ve run things year after year. We were taken off guard on some of the comments but we understand them. People want to go to DerbyCon. We equally take it as personally because we want everyone to come to DerbyCon.
As DerbyCon continues to grow in popularity, traditions that once were in place, may change. The conference may evolve in different ways. We don’t know. This one however, will remain, at least for the foreseeable future. Our intent with the ticket process is to recognize the traditions we’ve had in the past and where we are heading.
Mental note for everyone reading this: check a few minutes before the actual posted time as there is an extremely good chance that it will open early. Again, we had no idea that it would sell out in three minutes – for those that are upset or frustrated, we are deeply sorry and it’s not our intent. We put on this conference to promote the growth of the security industry, to share research and collaboration with brilliant minds (all of you), and to try to make the world a better place. There’s a large number of us (which is amazing!) and we can’t accommodate everyone.
For those still seeking tickets, there are still a few options available for you:
1. There are still sponsorships available and they come with additional tickets. Email info [at] derbycon [dot] com for more information.
2. Submit a call for papers! Do some research, get selected, and present!!! You may think that your talk isn’t “DerbyCon” caliber. That couldn’t be furthest from the truth. Our happiness out of DerbyCon is hearing a story “I spoke for my very first time at DerbyCon, and it skyrocketed my career”. We love first time speakers, we want first time speakers, we want first time presentations. Even if you don’t get accepted (we can’t say yes to all), it doesn’t mean next year you won’t.
3. We will be releasing small blocks of tickets. These will be random, un-announced, and through the DerbyCon Twitter account. @DerbyCon.
4. LobbyCon is also an option here – there are plenty of things to do and folks to hang out with and see.
We also stream LIVE all of the talks, we publish all of the talks within the same day, and we stream channels to the hotel rooms inside the Hyatt.
We were shocked at the crazy rate as of tickets being sold, to the point where when we had refreshed the page after a minute and a half realized that tickets were going to be gone before the 1:00PM timeframe. That is nuts.
From the DerbyCon team, we want to thank ALL of you for making this conference possible. We hope to see you at DerbyCon 7.0.
It is going to be an amazing year, and one that will go down in the history books.
On a side note, if you purchased your ticket and did not receive a QRCode, don’t fret – we had a couple of issues from Yahoo and a couple others where they temporarily flagged us. We will be sending them out as soon as that is lifted (hopefully within 24 hours). If you have your PayPal receipt. You are golden.
-The DerbyCon Team