Robert Scoble upset he didn’t get a free ticket…

There was a shudder throughout the Internet today: Robert Scoble, former Official Blogger for Microsoft and now writer/podcaster for PodTech.Net, didn’t receive an invite to a Microsoft developer conference.  A fellow at Microsoft by the name of Alfred Thompson responded saying (more or less) that Scoble isn’t the target audience for the conference anyway.  And Scoble was pissed by this response.

Most of you probably don’t know who Robert Scoble is, or care.  But in the world of Internet bloggers, he’s somewhere in the top 50 or so most “powerful”.  Tens of thousands of blogs used to link to him when he was Microsoft’s official blogger.  Back in his hey-day, he received millions of hits a year.  I suspect he probably got used to getting things for free just because he was who he was.

Let us be absolutely clear here: Microsoft didn’t say “Robert Scoble can’t attend the MIX07 developer conference”.  Despite Alfred Thompson’s somewhat clumsy post, they weren’t saying he wasn’t wanted.  What they did was fail to give Robert a free ticket.

MIX07 isn’t, apparently, a “mass market” event: they want to target developers, not people who report about developers.  They don’t apparently care to get the event talked up outside of the attendees.  Right or wrong, that is their decision.

I’m a developer for a fairly major company.  I do work in the rich media Internet space.  My opinion influences hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in investments.  But I don’t see Microsoft handing *me* a free ticket to MIX07.  And if I wanted to go, I’d have to negotiate with my management for months in advance to get budget assigned.  And let me tell you, I’d be a little ticked off if, when I got there after all that effort, I found two reporters for every three developers, and then discovered those reporters got there for *free*.

As much as I admire Robert Scoble, I have a message for him (not that he’ll ever come here to read it): get over yourself.  Yeah, Alfred’s post probably rubbed you the wrong way, but expecting free tickets to everything just because you are *the* Robert Scoble makes you look a trifle arrogant.

5 thoughts on “Robert Scoble upset he didn’t get a free ticket…”

  1. The media make money by reporting on events like MIX. It’s a reasonable expense for them to pay their own way just as it is for anyone else. And it is not like paid attendees can’t report on events in their own blogs. Its time to stop special treatment for media people. It has to start somewhere.

  2. Welcome, Alfred!

    I agree re: the media attendees should pay. Some conferences are media-centric from the start: E3 is (was, I guess) an example. I could see vendors or the show itself sponsoring attendees to that kind of show.

    But the conferences I generally attend are usually specific to a particular topic, and are targeted towards practitioners. When I’m able to attend, I’m paying to get a compressed technical introduction or overview: they are educational events, not advertising fests or love-ins. As I said in my original post, I’d be pretty ticked off to find that someone who isn’t a real “learner” or contributor got a free invite to a session I paid for.

    Has Scoble received free invitations to previous incarnations of MIX? If so, then “weaning” him of this expectation probably needed somewhat special handling, and maybe that was lacking. Otherwise…well, he doesn’t have my sympathy.

  3. You missed why I was pissed about Alfred’s post. It wasn’t because I didn’t get a ticket. Although I know many other people who are getting free tickets, including several journalists.

    The thing that pissed me off is that Alfred was saying I was irrelevant to Web 2.0. That, despite me doing hundreds of interviews in the industry. Despite having a sizeable audience. Despite doing dozens of interviews with MIcrosofties and people at Adobe and other companies.

    Mix is only on its second year. Last year I got a free pass cause I was a Microsoft employee.

    And, as to journalists making money off of conferences. That is sort of true. But, it’s a two-way street. Microsoft makes a TON more money than I do if they sell an additional copy of its toolset.

    At all Microsoft conferences I’ve been to (TechEd and PDC) the journalists are given free passes and are seated in front of everyone else so they get better access than the paying customers.

    Alfred should go to the conference team internally at Microsoft and ask why that is.

    I don’t do event journalism, though. If you watch my show at you’ll see that I never do event reporting.

    I am there to make relationships with people who I then film elsewhere. Or, maybe once in a while out in the hallway.

    You missed that I DID NOT ASK for a free ticket to Mix. I don’t want one. I don’t need one to do my job. I’ll get the news just as well out in the hallway.

    Or, come back to my blog later tonight (at 9:01 p.m.) when I’ll break some major news from a major multi-billion-dollar company. No conference needed.

  4. Greetings and welcome, Robert!

    I read Alfred’s original post and, yes, I can absolutely see where you being called irrelevant to Web 2.0 is both incorrect and personally upsetting. It would bug me if I were in your position, so I can’t fault you for that.

    What I saw is this (bear with me while I express probable misperceptions): you posted saying you were going to MIX without an invite to lurk outside and protest not getting an invite. Alfred responded (incorrectly in my opinion) by questioning your relevance to Web 2.0.

    Not to put words into Alfred’s mouth, but I suspect his real intent was to question your relevance to MIX07 (a developer targeted event), at least to the extent of providing free passes to the event. This latter point, as I indicate in my original post, is one I can agree with.

    As for your point about the press being given preferential treatment at other, similar events: I’ll certainly take your word for that. If giving the press special perks at technical/education sessions is normal procedure with Microsoft, then you are absolutely right- Alfred’s target should be Microsoft’s conference team. Given his post, I have to wonder if perhaps he has already done this, and the lack of invites for yourself and Wired are the result. That would explain his response to your “why didn’t I get a free ticket” (my reading of them, sorry) posts.

    As a technical attendee, I can say that I feel lucky if I can get funding to go to one conference every two years. And as I mentioned in my original post, arriving there to find that media folks are sitting up front with free tickets is not likely going to sit well with me. My support is with Alfred if he’s trying to convince the Microsoft conference folks to be more thoughtful about inviting reporters to some events.

  5. I’m going way out on a limb here, ok maybe not, but this is what is known as a snub. Robert quit MS, now he doesn’t get MS freebies and they don’t speak nearly as high of him. Well duh. And he doesn’t say nice things about them nearly as consistantly. Stop the presses.

    The real confusion is MS seems to have thought Robert truely loved them for what they were, and Robert seems to think they truely loved him for what he was. But alas there was money changing hands, and try as both sides may (or may not), you can’t be objective in that situation. Noble effort, but we’ll just have to let go of that fantasy now.

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