We’ll see how the final attendee count plays out, but right now, we’re running about 2.21x ahead of 2016. In 2015, we had 800 attendees in the day (our Fire Marshall cap) and 800 more for the after-party. In 2016, we had almost 5,000 total attendees. This year we will hit 10,000 (hopefully not all on-site at the same time).
And the speaker list and topics are just amazing.
You can take a great look back at 2016 with Lew Cirne, Tomasz Tunguz, Aaron Levie, and more here:
We did a Newbie’s guide to the Annual a few weeks back, and if you haven’t been before (this is just the 3rd year), check that guide out here first.
If you’ve been before, let me provide a few updates on what’s new and different this year:
Bigger, but Also, More Intimate. Those of you who came to the ’16 Annual thought it was just about the “right size” — and we agree. Many of you said it felt a lot like Dreamforce from ‘o6-’08. Many of you said don’t make it any bigger. We heard you. Yes, we will be more than 2x the size of last year — but it will still feel the right size. First, we’ll do more to match you to your peers. We’ll identify who is in each functional area (CEO, VPE, VPS, VPM, VPCS, etc.) and match you up with your peers more efficiently. We’ll also try to do so by startup stage (ARR). We’ll do this both with in-event meet-ups, “flair”, and the Tuesday night parties in particular.
More than Double the “Tactical Stage” Content. Last year we had two stages — the upstairs “Strategy Stage” and the downstairs “Tactical Theater”. The #1 bit of feedback we got from last year was more Tactical Stage content, please. The downstairs sessions were a last-minute addition last year, but they were packed, every single seat was taken for each session. You wanted more stories, also, about getting to $10m ARR, not just $250m in ARR. We heard you. So we’ll have more hands-on advice on how to hire a better sales team, get more leads, etc. etc. This year — we’ll have two Tactical Stages that can each seat 800. As well as a Deep Dive stage as well. So net 2.5x the tactical-style content than last year.
Double the Unicorn and Prenicorn CEOs. We’ll have even more SaaStr-style interviews with the CEOs, COOs, Presidents and Founders of Veeva Systems, Twilio, Hubspot, Zendesk, Stripe, Evernote, Nutanix, Domo, Asana, Intercom, Apttus, Mulesoft, ServiceMax, Zoom, YCombinator, Trello, InsideSales.com, New Relic, AngelList, Revel Systems, Krux, Marketo, Xero, Pagerduty, Gusto, and so many other iconic SaaS companies.
40:1 VC Sessions Instead of 1:1s. Last year, we did 1:1 meetings with top SaaS VCs. That went OK, but was a huge scheduling hassle for all sides, and the number of slots was limited. It was the most work last year for the least impact. So this year we are mixing it up, and on Thursday 2/9, we’ll instead have targeted VC:Founder sessions of about 40:1 (founder:VC) in size. Mini-presentations on how to raise a growth round, how to get a second seed done, what VCs really want, etc. etc. You can pick 3-4 of these sessions to attend based on which VCs you want to meet, and ask questions as the end. We think this will both be higher quality, and scale better, than somewhat unfiltered 1:1s.
Even Better Tuesday Night Break-Out Parties — To Meet Your Peers. Last year, we added topic-specific Tuesday night parties at the last minute. This year, we’re doing that even bigger and better. On Tuesday we’ll break into parties specific to CEOs, Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, Dev/Engineering and more, hosted by folks from Gainsight to Workable to Emergence Capital to Digital Ocean to Algolia and more. These function and domain-specific parties of 50-250 will let you make new relationships your first day.
The “Big Party” Will Rock. Last year, we weren’t 100% sure if having 2,000 folks all at one big
party on Wednesday night was too much or not. Turns out, the feedback was very positive. People managed to make new connections and meet new great folks in one big party as well as the several small ones the night before. So we’re repeating that this year. We’re using the Regency Ballroom for the Big Party this year. We’ll have 3 floors to meet new folks, with hip-hop legend DJ Premier entertaining us on the main stage. We’ll also have quieter spaces upstairs and downstairs to make new friends.
Four Stages. Less Congestion and More Conversations. Stretched across 4 stages this year (vs. 2 last year), even with double the attendees, we think the conversations will be even better, and more targeted.
So bottom line: if you came last year, it will be like that. But better. And even though bigger. Not more crowded.
If you didn’t come last year. Then know we’re committed to this being the best event for SaaS founders, CEOs, VPs, VCs and CEOs-to-be. On the planet.