Wow, Unite 2009 has come to a close and once again it was an awesome/incredible/crazy/you-name-it week! Now that I've had a day or so to rest and recuperate a bit I figured I'd take a few minutes and jot down some notes and comments about last week's event. Read on for my thoughts and post up some comments if you have any questions.
Content is King
We all know the phrase "content is king" when thinking about web technologies like ours*, but I think that also applies to conferences as well. The truth is that without high-quality sessions that offer attendees something valuable, our conference wouldn't be worth much. The good thing is that I think we offered some incredible sessions this week and that feeling was backed-up by the in-person feedback I received on site. Many attendees indicated to me that they felt that each day offered them material they found interesting and more importantly useful. So for that I have to thank the crew internally at Unity Tech as we had many of us up on stage delivering presentations or assisting attendees during hands-on lab. Additionally I have to thank the awesome 3rd party speakers that showed up to deliver presentations as well, they volunteered their valuable time to help others learn more about Unity and that's a generous offer to say the least. So, content is king even at conferences and all signs seem to indicate that was the case this year once again.
*If you don't then know this, it's an indication that for tech companies like us having great content in production is critical. We can have the greatest tech available but if nobody is using it to make cool stuff then who's really going to know about it or care? So, "content is king"!
Some Incredible Numbers
This past week offered up some incredible numbers that show how much this conference has grown. Just two years ago we held our first conference, Unite 2007, in San Francisco and were excited that we had something like 80 people in attendance and we offered 11 presentations. Then a year later we held the conference again, Unite 2008 was in Copenhagen and it grew even larger attracting roughly 170 people who were there to take in a total of 15 presentations. So this year we held the conference for the third time, again back in San Francisco and the attendance growth continued once again as we had over 350 people in town to attend 21 presentations and 3 classes, this time over four days (compared to prior years being 3-day events). So we've gone from 80 to 170 to 350+, and I say 350+ as we had all 437 seats in the Cowell Theater full for the keynote, but many of those were press/media/guests there for that presentation only, we had 350+ there regularly despite a much higher peak number. Beyond that we offered more hands-on lab, we had a bunch more Unity Awards entries (a separate blog post on that is coming!) and we had a significantly larger Unity Tech employee contingent on site as almost all of our 50+ employees were on site. Simply incredible...
Our Community is Awesome
Once again I have to say that the Unity Community rocks! Not only did members of the community step up and deliver presentations, but a bunch more were simply there in attendance welcoming all the community newcomers that were getting introduced and they were all spending time networking, talking about Unity and sharing what they know. We spent lots of time socializing at the Pre-Unite Monday Night User Meeting, the Wednesday night Unity User Group "Drink & Shoot" Party thrown by the folks at dimeRocker and then once again at the official conference party Thursday night. I spent a ton of time each day at the show talking with forum regulars and community newbies, with lots of Flash users looking to make the jump on up to folks that have been using Unity since before I arrived on the scene. So again this past week showed just how awesome of a community we have and so I thank everyone of you (those that could attend as well as those that could not), y'all truly help make Unity and our Unite conferences something special.
First up is a bit of rest, then come Monday morning we'll be back at it as there's a lot to do. First up will be some website updates to both the Unite pages as well as some information about this year's Unity Awards finalists and winners. Then we'll work with the awesome guys from ShiftControl to get the session videos they helped record prepared and posted online in a much faster manner than years prior. Then after that we'll start looking forward to next year's event, where it might be held and how many people we might think will attend. Given the progression we've seen it could be even crazier next year and without a doubt that's exciting beyond belief, I can only imagine what it's going to be like.
One Last Reminder, Thanks To...
The incredible crew from Melons Catering who delivered top-notch food each and every day. The crew at the Fort Mason Center that helped us put on a great show. Everyone at Unity Technologies for an awesome week of hard work, I know we put y'all through your paces so thanks for stepping up! To each and every 3rd party presenter, I know you put in your own time to prepare and deliver those, it's appreciated. To ShiftControl who came on-site to handle the session recording, putting in some seriously long hours working under lots of stress with nary a sign of cracking. And finally, one last thanks to everyone that was there in attendance, conferences like this take a massive amount of work, induce mountains of stress and likely age us prematurely, but knowing that y'all enjoyed the week and that you learned a lot along the way makes it all worth it.
See you next year!