Thursday, February 18, 2010

SQLSaturday Acquired by PASS – Reactions

The Announcement

On February 2nd, PASS (@sqlpass), here, and Andy Warren (@sqlandy), here, announced ownership of the SQLSaturday franchise brand was transferred to PASS.  Since I am friends with Andy I know that this is something that he and his partners (Steve Jones (@way0utwest) and Brian Knight (@BrianKnight)) have wanted to do for awhile. 

The Reactions

After the announcement there were several posts in reaction to the acquisition (if I missed any, please add them in the comments):

  1. Andy Warren Explains the move - SQLSaturday & PASS – More Details
  2. Andy Leonard (@AndyLeonard) interviews Andy Warren including the reason for the move - Interview with Andy Warren about SQL Saturday, PASS, and More
  3. Steve Jones gives his take - SQLSaturday Bequeathed to PASS
  4. Marlon Rubinal (@marlonrubinal) – is very positive about the change - SQL Saturday Acquired By PASS
  5. Tim Ford (@sqlagentman) takes a more skeptical view of the move - A SQL Saturday Sequel: Van Halen or Van Hagar?
  6. Tim Mitchell (@tim_mitchell) is positive, but also had some concerns - The PASS Acquisition of SQL Saturday

The Reason

Having been a co-organizer of SQLSaturday #21 – Orlando I have some understanding of what it takes to put on an event (Andy really did most of the work so I don’t understand all of it).  Plus, being friends with Andy and seeing him regularly I also have some insight into the amount of work he put into helping events and maintaining/improving the tools (web site).  Based on this I understand why Andy, Steve, and Brian would want to pass the administration of SQLSaturday to PASS, an organization with event experience and a full-time staff.  Remember, SQLSaturday was not a profit center for Andy, Brian, and Steve, any time Andy (or either of the others) put into SQLSaturday was time not spent trying to make money.

My Take

You can see in my post, What Should Pass Strive To Be?, under point 3 that I believe PASS should be supporting/administering regional events like SQLSaturday.  Based on that I believe that from the perspective of PASS this acquisition is a great thing.  Having said that I understand and, really, agree with the concerns Tim Ford and Tim Mitchell raise.  I think that if PASS remains true to the founding principles of SQLSaturday which I understand to be:

  1. Provide a day of quality, free SQL Server focused training that is organized and administered by local people.  Key word free.  Yes, some events have charged for lunch, but getting that lunch is optional. This is facilitated by providing:
    1. An event framework with a minimum of rules
    2. An administrative application (SQLSaturday web site) for registration; accepting, approving, and scheduling sessions; messaging for sponsors, speakers, and registrants; and processing funds collected from sponsors and lunch fees
  2. Provide another outlet for local speakers.
  3. Provide a growth path for local speakers.  Chapter session –> SQLSaturday –> National/International Conference

and builds upon them then this will be great for both parties, if not then I think it is likely that previous local SQLSaturday organizers will start organizing non-PASS branded events to continue the spirit of these principles.  PASS needs to understand that many people in the SQL Server community are committed to these principles.

What Can/Should PASS Do to Make SQLSaturday Better?

To reference my, What Should Pass Strive To Be?, post again (point 4), I think one areas PASS can help is to develop regional leadership teams that assist the local Chapter Leaders in organizing a SQLSaturday.  For example, in the southeastern United States you have Andy Warren, Pam Shaw, Stuart Ainsworth, Karla (Remail) Landrum who have all done or by the summer will have done multiple events, use their experience to help others.

Provide assistance in contacting sponsors.  Chapters tend to lean on local companies and recruiters who have been great supporters of the events thus far, but the size alone of the event means that they need more than that and organizers may or may not have that contact information.

Continue to enhance the administrative tools provided via the SQLSaturday web site.  One of the things I see as missing is volunteer management, and I did mention it to Andy.  The session scheduling application could be tweaked to schedule volunteers.  This has 2 benefits:

  1. The volunteers know when and what they will be doing ahead of time so they can schedule their day appropriately.
  2. The organizers will see where they need to fill in gaps and make better use of the volunteers’ time. 


I really think this change makes sense.  PASS has tried to do community events with the Community Connection branding, but struggled to get it off the ground due to lack of administrative tools and the fact that SQLSaturday was out there and had the tools.  So now they have the tools and hopefully, the will, to grow the event.


  1. Jack, that's a nice post, both for aggregating the thoughts so far and for thinking ahead about what is needed. We haven't worked out the details on future changes, but I'm hoping I will be able to continue to tweak the tools. It's a lot like most apps, always something else needed or could be better, but I think anything we can do to make it easier/faster for event leaders is a win given the number of those we hope to do.

    You contributed more than you take credit for on #21 Jack, and just in case I haven't said so before, I really appreciate the effort you put into it and into oPASS.



  2. Andy,

    Yeah, I'm sure it will take time to work out all the details, but I figured I'd get my ideas out there on where I think PASS should be looking to improve SQLSaturday.

    You do a pretty good job of making people feel appreciated for their work and I think you've said it to me often enough. I don't think I do or did that much, but when you had been doing it all then any help feels like a lot.

  3. Jack, good post. I agree that the key is for PASS to provide resources, not necessarily management, for the success to continue.


So what do you think I am?