Ayende @ Rahien

My name is Oren Eini
Founder of Hibernating Rhinos LTD and RavenDB.
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TechEd Israel 2010 may only accept speakers from sponsors

time to read 5 min | 847 words

This post is copied (with permission) from Roy Osherove. I don’t often do things like that but Roy’s post has pushed a lot of red buttons.

Let me just hand you over to Roy:

A month or so ago, Microsoft Israel started sending out emails to its partners and registered event users to “Save the date!” – Micraoft Teched Israel is coming, and it’s going to be this november!

“Great news” I thought to myself. I’d been to a couple of the MS teched events, as a speaker and as an attendee, and it was lovely and professionally done. Israel is an amazing place for technology and development and TechEd hosted some big names in the world of MS software.

A couple of weeks ago, I was shocked to hear from a couple of people that Microsoft Israel plans to only accept non-MS teched speakers, only from sponsors of the event. That means that according to the amount that you have paid, you get to insert one or more of your own selected speakers as part of teched.

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks trying to gather more evidence of this, and have gotten some input from within MS about this information. It looks like that is indeed the case, though no MS rep. was prepared to answer any email I had publicly. If they approach me now I’d be happy to print their response.

What does this mean?

If this is true, it means that Microsoft Israel is making a grave mistake –

  • They are diluting the quality of the speakers for pure money factors. That means, that as a teched attendee, who paid good money, you might be sitting down to watch nothing more that a bunch of infomercials, or sub-standard speakers – since speakers are no longer selected on quality or interest in their topic.
  • They are turning the conference from a learning event to a commercial driven event
  • They are closing off the stage to the community of speakers who may not be associated with any organization  willing to be a sponsor
  • They are losing speakers (such as myself) who will not want to be part of such an event. (yes – even if my company ends up sponsoring the event, I will not take part in it, Sorry Eli!)
  • They are saying “F&$K you” to the community of MVPs who should be the people to be approached first about technical talks (my guess is many MVPs wouldn’t want to talk at an event driven that way anyway )

I do hope this ends up not being true, but it looks like it is. MS Israel had already done such a thing with the Developer Days event previouly held in Israel – only sponsors were allowed to insert speakers into the event.

If this turns out to be true I would urge the MS community in Israel to NOT TAKE PART AT THIS EVENT in any form (attendee, speaker, sponsor or otherwise). by taking part, you will be telling MS Israel it’s OK to piss all over the community that they are quietly suffocating anyway.

The MVP case

MS Israel has managed to screw the MVP program as well. MS MVPs (I’m one) have had a tough time here in Israel the past couple of years. ever since yosi taguri left the blue badge ranks, there was not real community leader left. Whoever runs things right now has their eyes and minds set elsewhere, with the software MVP community far from mind and heart. No special MVP events (except a couple of small ones this year). No real MVP leadership happens here, with the MVP MEA lead (Ruari) being on a remote line, is not really what’s needed.

“MVP? What’s that?” I’m sure many MS Israel employees would say. Exactly my point.

Last word

I’ve been disappointed by the MS machine for a while now, but their slowness to realize what real community means in the past couple of years really turns me off. Maybe it’s time to move on. Maybe I shouldn’t be chasing people at MS Israel begging for a room to host the Agile Israel user group. Maybe it’s time to say a big bye bye and start looking at a life a bit more disconnected from that giant. I hear the people at Google are pretty Agile!

And now back to me. I had more discussions in the last two years with Microsoft UK than with Microsoft Israel. I think it says it all, and I am an Israeli MVP who spends most of his time in Israel.


Robert Cain

I wonder how much of the issues get down to the person responsible for the area. I'm an MVP from the US (Alabama). Our regional developer evangelist, Glen, is great, i hear from him on a regular basis plus often see him at various regional events. In addition I get weekly emails from my MVP lead, Ryan, about what's going on.

I will agree on one point, I do wish Microsoft did a bit more marketing around the MVP branding so that "MVP? What's that?" isn't a question many employers or potential clients would be asking.

Charlie Barker

Not good at all, given the amount of talented developers in Israel. You could always move to the UK ;)

Demis Bellot

This may or may not be relevant but I have also been disappointed in Microsoft's ability to generate enthusiasm for developers and I find the Google I/O and Apple WWDC events to be much more energetic. I'm not sure exactly why it is but I think its their insistence on catering for the lowest common denominator and circling all their efforts around 'click box development' and 'graphic designers first' rather than looking to empower developers.

They are also very re-active and will jump on the latest bandwagon and be the last to push technologies like Azure that personally I have no interest in. Rather than re-inventing the wheel and changing their data access and web service technologies every couple of years they should be looking to enhance existing platforms. I would've preferred that they embraced Ajax and HTML5/Canvas and focused on sneaking C# into every browser than trying to push another Flash at us. The only thing I like about Silverlight is its ability to create cross-platform 'Out of the Browser' rich applications but sadly since this is not its primary use-case will not get the attention it deserves - it will probably remain a dumb WPF app.

Even though I find C# a far superior general programming language with best mix of productivity and runtime performance I have been spending more and more of my free time tinkering with Python and Java so I can tap into Google App Engine and Android tech. Life would be much easier if Google displaced their NIH syndrome and embraced C#, sigh.

Manoj Waikar

Hi Demis,

Try Clojure :) and since Google App Engine can run java code, it can also run Clojure.

Demis Bellot

@Manoj Waikar

Thanks for the tip, unfortunately Clojure is a little too lisp-y for my liking. Python is terse, dynamic and worthy but Scala looks to be my first candidate to replace C# and target the JVM. Go-lang is interesting but may never grow out of its toy-language state.

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