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2011 in review

I was traveling by car from Denver to Vancouver WA during the holidays and didn’t get much laptop time. A blessing and a curse for sure :) but wanted to take a few minutes to put down my thoughts on the year that just ended.

It’s been a roller coaster for sure, in both good and bad ways.

I had to cancel (sort of) my first event. 360|MacDev 2011 had to be pushed out until this year (in fact it’s next month, you should check it out and spread the word) because another event scheduled themselves right on top of me, and while their event isn’t known to be very good or in the same realm as mine, they had way more marketing money, so I didn’t want to compete. In the end it was probably a good thing, since I could focus on 360|Flex 2011, which for the second time ever, sold out.

For 2011 we decided to move from our 2x a year schedule to a annual event model. I loved doing two events a year for the various communities, but as more me-too confs started popping up it got harder and harder, plus the community it turns out doesn’t have 2 events a year in them for the most part. Many treated the 2/year model as 1, just picking one to attend and skipping the other. Plus as Flex matured there wasn’t much new stuff happening every 6 months. Adobe released major versions closer to yearly, so the odd event wasn’t a news event. It definitely helps to have big announcements at events.

360|Flex has only sold out one other time that I recall, the very first one in 2007 at Ebay. Since then we’ve gotten very close, but never hit it. This past year we sold out, and over sold by 22. It’s typical in conferences to have a no-show rate close to 15%. the last 2 360|Flex’s had rates closer to 3% which is incredible.

Towards the end of 2011 Adobe thru some serious monkey wrenches my way. They made some very big business decisions, that coupled with their truly terrible PR efforts made it seem like the world was ending for the Flash/Flex community. In the end after a whole lot of damage control, it’s clear the future is still bright, if not a little less shiny for Flex. At first my heart sank, coming out of a hugely successful 360|Flex 2011 and lots of excitement for 2012, to “OH no, Flex is dead” was a huge bummer. After talking to Adobe, and making sure I was on the same page tho, I’m very excited for 360|Flex 2012 and what the future holds.

360|iDev 2011 also sold out. It went to an annual model and sold out more than 50 over what we planned. That of course was a problem given our venue’s size, but the event was still a huge success. 360|iDev has never sold out before that, so that was a huge milestone for us! The iOS community is incredible! I can’t wait for 360|iDev 2012 and some other stuff that is still in the planning phases.

2011 taught me that too many businesses are out for theirs, fuck you. They’ll act nice, they’ll smile, but in the end they want their money and to hell with you. That’s counter to how I run my business so it pains me to have to act like that, but 2011 showed me that in the end, no one is interested in my business succeeding but me. That sucks. Business (to me) should help each other when they can. It’s not a zero sum game despite what they think. Screw you pay me, is a terrible business motto that leads to bad things, and everyone loses.

Ignite Denver had an interesting year. We ended 2011 with a GABF themed event. Much like communism and other -ism’s GABF/Free beer seemed like a great idea on paper. By intermission much of the beer was gone, and the crowd was very drunk. That kinda sucked and the second half presenters really had to work to be heard and i hate seeing that. Overall everyone had a blast, but from an organizational standpoint it was a night mare. Ignite Denver in 2012 is up in the air.

Never one to bitch about being too busy, i just keep finding new things to do. Along with my friends Jake and Rich, I opened a coworking space. Denver has no shortage of coworking spaces, but few are aimed at actual community and none were aimed at creatives alone. We don’t want realtors, lawyers, telemarketers, or acupuncturists at Uncubed. We want developers, designers, startup’ers, etc. Our goal is to make Uncubed the Tech hub of Denver. Sadly until now there really wasn’t one. Tech meet ups had to suffer at Forest Room 5 and their shitty meeting space, or at other bars that were happy to have them and their money but provided little else, least of all internet! Denver needs and deserves a space that the tech community can rely on and hang out at, that’s Uncubed. Whether a member of coworking or not, techies are welcome. Meetups are welcome. let’s Hack!

It’s been a long time since I had an office to go to, and it’s been nice having a place to show up each morning and hang out with other people doing awesome things. Conversations on coding, business practice, etc break out, and it’s awesome. We’ve even entered an autonomous vehicle competition with some of our members, so Team Uncubed will be rocking a robot soon.

Travel wise 2011 was a slow year. Since we home based the conferences in Denver and went to an annual model we didn’t have excuses to travel. So long status with Frontier. I definitely miss traveling, I love Denver but love seeing new places too. 2012 is shaping up to be a heavy travel year, which is cool, and stressful, LOL.

My sort of personal motto is don’t talk about how busy you are, be busy.

Personally 2011 was a good year, it marked one more year with my awesome wife Nicole. It marked the first full year with our new puppies Paco and Winston and it showed me that while things are tough, there’s good to be seen and had everywhere. It also more than any other year saw me thinking more about mortality. Steve Jobs passing was a huge hit for me. Not because he was an idol of mine, all evidence seems to point to his being a complete dick head. BUT he was a visionary and we need those, we have too few, and they’re getting fewer. I thought about my legacy should I die sooner than I plan, and the legacy of those around me in technology and business. Not a cheery thing to think about but needed.

2011 was shitty for more folks than it should have been and that’s never good. Especially since in most cases it wasn’t their faults. I’m glad to see the economy is starting to turn around, even if only a little.

Lastly I guess 2011 was great in that I spent as much time as i could with friends and family. Whether out camping or just enjoying Denver’s warmer months on rooftop decks and bars enjoying good beer. I’m sure there’s a lot of things that happened this year that I’ve overlooked, but hopefully I caught the important ones.

Thanks to all my friends and family for 2011 and here’s to making 2012 kick ass like Chuck Norris.


By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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