February 09, 2012, 9:49 AM — Faced with declining attendance and revenue numbers, the Apache Software Foundation is seeking to hand off management of one of its semi-annual ApacheCon events.
The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has released a request for proposal to prepare, manage, and execute the ApacheCon conference in North America.
Last year's five-day conference was held just a few months ago from Nov. 7-11 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The ASF has, in the past, managed two ApacheCons a year--one in Europe and one in North America. According to the ApacheCon wiki page, however, the last formal "ApacheCon Europe" took place in 2009, with other various "Retreats" and presences at other shows, such as GotoCon Amsterdam in 2011, taking the place of the ASF's branded European conference.
This new RFP, which was released on Jan. 23, deals only with the North American event. "Subsequent years and/or regions will only be considered following a successful initial event, and will not be entered into at this time," the RFP states.
The RFP does a thorough job of laying out the expectations for the conference, and what the ASF would like to see moving forward.
"ApacheCon has been running since 2000, and in the early days saw large audiences (up to 1200), however, in recent years ApacheCon attendance in North America has decreased to around 500."
Clearly, a reversal of this attendance trend is something on the ASF's collective minds.
Expectations are also certainly looking to reverse the financials around the ASF's conferences. For the past three fiscal years, the revenue generated by the ApacheCons has been on the downward slope.
For the 2008 fiscal year, conferences made up for $18,394 in positive revenue for the ASF. The following year, just $9,908 of revenue was pulled in. For the latest year reported by the ASF, the non-profit lost $5,542 on their 2010 fiscal year events. (The ASF's fiscal year starts on May 1, so these figures do not reflect any 2011 calendar event, which were all held in the 2011 fiscal year.)
With those kinds of numbers, it makes sense for the ASF to seek to have another organization take over the planning and execution of one of the ApacheCons. This is not a criticism of the ASF; on the contrary, if you see you're not performing as well as you could, it makes sense to get help.
Not just anyone will be given consideration for winning the bid to implement ApacheCon North America: a bidder will have to have demonstrably run such an event before and show evidence on their performance.
Based on this and other requirements, I would venture that SCALE or one of the other great regional show-organizing groups, such as the Northwest Linuxfest or Southeast Linuxfest, as candidates to bid for this RFP. Of course, they may want to shoot me for making such a suggestion.
Other candidate organizations could be the Linux Foundation or even the Mozilla Foundation. The former runs very slick and successful events, and the latter can certainly benefit from co-locating an event with the ASF. These are, of course, my suggestions only. There's no inside information on this one.
Whoever submits a bid, bids need to be turned in no later than 5pm GMT on Thursday 8th March 2012 to be considered.
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