Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Mobile IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog

Open Source Cloud: Article

Comdex: The Show that Ate Las Vegas Dies of Anorexia

Comdex: The Show that Ate Las Vegas Dies of Anorexia

  • Comdex Bites the Vegas Dust

    There won't be a Comdex this year.

    (Long pause for general chortling and rejoicing as shoemakers everywhere weep.)

    Industry ennui killed it.

    The current owners of the biggest money-spinner besides Microsoft ever spawned by the Computer Revolution claim they're "postponing" the thing to "reshape" it, which - according to the old VP of PR for the grand old Comdex, David Kaminer - is polite show talk for the show is over. "If you don't floor it," he said, "you 'postpone' it."

    The Las Vegas Conventional Center and environs are still expecting Comdex to pay for the space it reserved for November.

    It's hard to conceive of how much money changed hands and how much technology came to market and how many people made a living because Comdex existed.

    And Comdex existed because of the pre-PC foresight of a small-time show manager named Shelly Adelson, who in March of 1979 was inspired to create it by a start-up publication called Computer Systems News that was brought into existence for CMP Publications by a young, unseasoned, second-generation reporter named Maureen O'Gara.

    Starting in a small back ballroom of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas that fall thanks to the support rendered by DEC's OEM unit run by Jake Jacobs, Comdex became, as the Wall Street Journal once called it, the "High Holy Days of High Tech," distinguished by the "miles of aisles" that inexorably enveloped the whole desert town until it took up a million square feet.

    It was, someone once calculated, "the largest non-religious gathering in America," the industry's great annual homecoming - and the people who came, armed with pens and a clinching handshake, were the decision makers.

    In its heyday, airlines flew because of it, convention centers were built because of it, hotels overflowed because of it and Las Vegas, originally a really cheap place to play, jacked its prices through the roof because of it.

    One year, conference director Peter Young lined up a guest speaker by the name of Bill Gates - a kid Shelly - who only learned of the booking later - dismissed as "that high school student" until Gates' picture suddenly started appearing on the covers of business magazines because his company just went public.

    Shelly always was lucky - that is if one considers luck the "residue of design and desire" like Branch Rickey, the "Mahatma" of baseball, did.

    Shelly sold Comdex at its peak to the Japanese-wannabe-big-time Softbank for $860 million. In April, 1995 that kind of sum was still real money. Shelly went on to buy the Sands Hotel, level it and build the Venetian among other hotels.

    Softbank, in turn, had its ups and downs, but Comdex still thrived - ultimately attracting 212,000 visitors and 2,500 exhibitors - until Softbank, which had also bought Ziff-Davis, found it necessary to focus on a core business and turned over Comdex to a Ziff-Davis spinout called the Key3Media Group, which had absolutely no knack for show business and turned the Golden Goose into a crude country pâté.

    The show lost its messianic appeal and its true audience, chipped away to a mere brand by bad management, the Internet, industry consolidation, changes in the distribution channel, rivals and Arab terrorism.

    By 2002, Key3Media was in hock up to its eyeballs and facing bankruptcy, its stock was worthless and had been drummed off the Big Board, half it board had quit and it was only able to meet its bank loans because of a windfall insurance settlement stemming from 9-11.

    Key3Media emerged from bankruptcy a year ago as MediaLive International Inc, which has been trying to keep Comdex alive as a B2B event. The last Comdex drew only 40,000 people and 550 exhibitors.

    MediaLive said Wednesday on the news of the show's cancellation that it's established a Comdex Advisory Board and has pressed some industry lights into putting their thinking caps on trying to dream up ways to salvage the show.

    It claimed that it could "still run a profitable Comdex this year," but "it does not benefit the industry to do so without broader support of the leading technology companies."

    MediaLive said it had commitments to join the advisory board from John Volkmann, VP, strategic communications, AMD; George Paolini, VP, general manager of developer tools, Borland Software; Mark Fredrickson, VP, corporate communications, EMC; Timothy Curran, CEO, Global Technology Distribution Council; Jeff Singsaas, director of events, Microsoft; Robert Shimp, VP, technology marketing, Oracle; and Peter Weedfald, senior VP, strategic marketing and new media, Samsung Electronics.

    Executives from Cisco, Dell and Intel have also agreed to join the board and invitations have been extended to other companies, MediaLive said.

    The next Comdex in Las Vegas, which they're thinking of turning into a user conclave, is scheduled for November 13-17, 2005.

  • More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

    Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

    Comments (1) View Comments

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    Most Recent Comments
    Ivan Cruz 06/25/04 03:50:37 PM EDT

    > turned over Comdex to a Ziff-Davis spinout called the
    > Key3Media Group, which had absolutely no knack for show
    > business and turned the Golden Goose into a crude country
    > pâté.

    Nope. Comdex and many other bussiness (specialy tech publications) is just another victim of Internet. Why expend four figures to have news, trends and information I can have faster and fresher right from my desk?

    IoT & Smart Cities Stories
    Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
    DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER gives detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPOalso offers sp...
    DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
    @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...
    Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
    When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
    Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
    Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
    Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
    Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...