It is important in business to understand who your competition is, and many times in the modern world your competition is not the obvious choice. GSN’s competition is not TechCrunch, VentureBeat, ReCode, CNet or any of the other advertising platforms masquerading as tech blogs. This is not to say that they are poor competition, rather they really are not our competition at all. The beast we plan to conquer is InterOp. (Metaphorically speaking. I personally like InterOp, and plan to go again this year.)
Tech Conferences have been an invaluable tool for professionals that are operating sorely behind the times. In a world where Microsoft TechNet subscription white papers were delivered in CD’s by the pound it made sense to have a major event once a year to bring hundreds of vendors and thousands of professionals together to network and socialize. But in a world of LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Medium it seems beyond obsolete to continue to emphasize this format as a way to learn, and explore our field.
Conferences cost vendors a large amount of money, and resources to exhibit at. ($5K is generally the cost of the smallest table) And participants can be left out due to price and scheduling issues. ($3K ticket + Airfare + Hotel + Taxi + Parking + Food, and then you have to find 3-5 days of free time). This is the exact type of problem that modern technology is meant to solve.
With any solution you have to ask yourself what are you REALLY providing. A conference manager would say they provide exhibit space, breakfasts, seminars, etc. As a an attendee that’s actually a technology professional what I can say is that they really provide inspiration, and insight. I don’t need horribly in depth studies of topics, I simply need to know that products exist, and be able to contact vendors to learn more.
If I’m trying to figure out how to build out server rooms for 20 new offices where the square footage lease is too expensive to allow a twenty square foot climate controlled room, finding out that Triplite or Rittal offer server rack systems that are fully enclosed, sound proofed, and have AC built in is valuable beyond words. The value is not flying to Las Vegas. The value is not walking a show floor and swapping business cards. The value is seeing the setup and asking, “how much?”.
GSN can provide 90% of the takeaway value of a tech conference for a fraction of the cost, and be available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week for anyone who’s from New York to Mozambique. In 5 days InterOp has 12,000 attendees, we’ll have more eyeballs per day than that in very short order.
With the communication capabilities that are built into the platform that GSN is built on we will be able to slowly roll out communication functions so that not only will readers be able to contact vendors, but they will also be able to talk between themselves. This will mean that we can provide the takeaways of a conference from the comfort of an internet connection.
So when thinking about GSN as a business it’s important to realize that we’re not looking at this the way most people would. I’m looking at building GSN based on the needs I see as a professional technologist, not based on the misconceptions of professional writers that happen to be writing about tech. Our focus is on the usable take aways for our readers. Just like with conferences… if the attendees don’t see an ROI then they’ll stop coming. If our readers don’t see an ROI they’ll stop reading. Our target is large, yearly tech conferences and I genuinely think we have a good shot.