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Comdex

Comdex Operators File for Bankruptcy 161

Posted by pudge
from the all-about-the-pentiums-baby dept.
VileScum writes "According to this article in The Australian, Los Angeles-based Key3Media Group, the company operating the giant Comdex trade show, filed for protection from its creditors yesterday in the United States Bankruptcy Court. Does this mean I have to start buying cloths again instead of getting them at trade shows?" Also see a story in The New York Times. Concerns of bankruptcy were voiced last November.
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Comdex Operators File for Bankruptcy

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  • cloths? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jd81eldo (156859) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:36AM (#5222235)
    I got a few free shirts at Comdex, but I never saw a booth giving out free cloths
  • by Hairy_Potter (219096) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:39AM (#5222257) Homepage
    to protect them against an incipient class action lawsuit by inexperienced geeks who were tramautized by picking up "girls" in Las Vegas with large Adam's Apples during the last Comdex.
  • by YeOldeGnurd (14524) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:39AM (#5222258) Homepage Journal
    The sex industry is recession-proof. I'm sure Adultdex isn't going under.

    Oh, but I guess they don't do clothing there, do they. Darn.

    • Well no, but some cloths might come in handy.
    • You know, I used to believe that. then I bought Mustang Ranch at the IPO.
    • The sex industry is recession-proof. I'm sure Adultdex isn't going under.


      Actually, a large portion of their profits comes from "going under".

      And yes, that is "comes" with an O and an E...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They may not be going under, but they sure are "going down".
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm sure even they have been impacted by the
      economic downturn that has affected Key3media.

      Adultdex was started (inspired) by a group of
      companies that had gotten kicked out of COMDEX for
      selling adult-oriented products (CDs) back in the
      mid nineties. At first it was just a competitive
      slam back at the Interface group (IIRC), for kicking
      them out in the first place.
      As time passed, more of the "corporate" adult entertainment
      promoters took over the convention and it has become more
      of a venue for new and growing franchises looking for market
      deals, and local Las Vegas entertainers. ... but it was always meant to take advantage of the presence
      of the COMDEX crowds both for promotion and to get extra bodies
      in the door.
      Less people going to COMDEX meant less foot traffic showing up for Adultdex.

      In past years it was as heavily promoted on taxi and street
      signs as any of the marketed high-tech companies that were
      on the COMDEX show floor. This last year, I don't recall seeing
      even one sign around the LV convention center mentioning it.

      I'm sure they suffered less for the cost of their hotel convention
      space than Key3media did for all its venues, but that doesn't mean
      they did not notice a distinct drop in the amount of horny geeks
      showing up after the main show hours ended.

      Of course I could be wrong, I didn't get by there last year to see
      how much attention ADX was getting. For all I know the geeks may
      have been so disappointed with the content at the LVCC that the
      made a point to check out what else Las Vegas had to offer.

      BTW: Even Adultdex had t-shirts, posters, and other chachkis,
      but they usually were sold as souvenir items.
  • Comdex Memories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kahei (466208) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:39AM (#5222260) Homepage

    Long ago, before I had a Real Job(tm), I helped out at one of the very first comdexes to earn money to buy crusts of dry bread.

    And there were all these people there, totally focused on building a stand that was better than the next stand, which in turn was trying to be better than the next one. Not because all the people loved stands or anything, but just because they'd all talked each other into believing it was really important.

    And they totally broke their backs to get their stands ready, they seriously worked 20 hour days to make sure their glossy stand thing worked perfectly and all the brochures and things were in the right place, although none of them actually cared about brochures or stands.

    It was this experience(*) that has made me cynical about capitalism in general and trade shows in particular. The sense of 'why not just stop bothering' that I acquired then has stood me good stead ever since :)

    (*)Along with the Tale of the Uneaten Breakfast, but that's another story.

    • Well, because marketing, while it may seem silly and unimportant to you, is what makes companies sell shit. And good presence at a trade show can lead to good writeups and reviews and lots of general industry press attention. Which of course is useful because it helps you close the deals that bring in money. Which in turn pays your salary, and if you have options or an ESOP plan, might give you a really big payout. Of course, this is the money that puts all that food on your table, buys that car you drive, pays for your kids to go to that nice private school, etc.


      Of course, I merely justified why trade show booths do serve a purpose. The competitiveness you observed is a basic part of human nature - if you are a marketing person for a company, you want it to be known that you are better at your job than the marketing people at your competitor company. The same applies to all people on the evolutionary track to success. If you just don't care about competing and winning, well, you are probably on one of those lines of evolution that will die out sooner or later and make room for those who do. Capitalism is a reflection of nature, which is why it works. Is it always a moral good? No - that's why we need laws and governments to keep it from being too destructive. But trying to impose systems fundamentally at odds with human nature seems to be a guaranteed failure.

      • Re:Comdex Memories (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Deagol (323173)
        Well, because marketing, while it may seem silly and unimportant to you, is what makes companies sell shit.

        Funny. I thought that having a good product, especially one that people use and want, caused people to buy shit.

        Ah... there's the problem (or at least I consider it a problem). Many seem to believe that the economy should be push-driven (companies "sell shit") versus a pull-driven one (people "buy shit").

        I've never understood goofy multi-million dollar superbowl adverts, trade shows, cold-calls, door-to-door salemen, pop-ups, or even everyday radio/tv commercials.

        Hell, if I want to buy a car, I'm gonna research what's out there. You can be damned sure I'm not going to let a 30-second glossy TV ad influense a $25,000 purchase. That scales down to things as cheap as paper towels and tooth paste.

        I realize that the big model is to make people believe thay want crap they don't need, whether that crap is quality or not (more often not). Here's a thought: make quality products that fill a real need (give me better reception on my cell phone, not a dazzling array of colored faceplates for the phone) and people will seek you out. In other words, "Build it, and they will come."

        I once worked for a small software firm which produced a niche point-of-sale system. I talked with several of the sales droids there. They honestly believed that without Sales (that is, the department, not actual cash sales) that the world would collapse into economic ruin. I always took the opposing view, but they'd hear none of it.

        It's one thing to have a passive presense to have your name in circulation (phone book entry, web page, small ads in the back of trade rags, etc.), but to devote so much money to something as wasteful as salesmen and advertising seems silly to me.

        Maybe I'm just a more demanding "consumer" than most, but most everything I buy is based on my own opinion, not advertising.

        Sometimes, I've decided to avoid brands solely because of how stupid the commercials are. May Utahns out there who have seen or heard the Totally Awesome Computers ads are sure to agree with me.

        And yes, I realize that I just poked a hole into my argument in that past paragraph. That counterpoint to anti-advertising is "brand recognition" -- the philosophy that if you remember a brand (even in a negative way), the advert has done its job. Rubbish.

        • You know, I used to beleive the same, kinda. Now however I realise that we're not the average consumer. The average consumer doesn't actually do his market research...he asks the sales person in the store, and thus buys something way overpriced/over-spec'd for what he wants. And because he recognises the brand...he actually thinks he's done a good deal.

          Face it...the average person is dumb, and branding, advertising et al does work. Furthermore, you and I need it too: how else would you know what's out there?

          Now the question of whether they (sales, PR etc)could do with a lower budget to accomplish the same, that's another issue...
          • Furthermore, you and I need it too: how else would you know what's out there?

            I don't buy that argument.

            Think about how may items you buy on a regular basis. Now... think about how many of those items to see actually advertised.

            See my point?

            When my wife I go to the store for stuff, we buy a lot more than just shampoo, paper towels, beer, and tampons. How did we know about the bounty of other goods? Well... we see them on the shelves, for one. We simply know that certain things are needed. I dunno -- adverts don't seem to come into play much in what we buy. And I really think that it's the same for many others.

            • Yeah, true...but we're not talking about shopping here; we're talking Comdex. We're talking consumer goods which are above the impulse buy limit of $99. I want to know when a palmos/gsm with a highrez colour screen, grafitti and removable storage finally comes out.

              Appart from that, which energy drink do you use? That dirt cheap one on the bottom right of the shelves? Or 'the one you know'? Trust me...the research has been done many times over, and 90% of the population does buy 'what they know', whether it be the $0.50 macarony of the cheap brand over the noname brand for $0.30 or the branded (and tv advertised) not-cocacola cola over the unknown, but cheaper cola. And more often than not, those products /have been made in the same factory, in the same bloody process, but only packaged differently!/! So don't shout 'but the taste is different!'...it's not.

              Go read some marketing books, or talk to that creep in sales. You'll be surprised at the shit that goes on, and how much everyone is influenced by advertising and the 'what they know' principle. You'll be even more surprised at the psychological research that has been done. Me, I'm an engineer by schooling, but those kinds of psych tricks have applications everywhere, from packaging to tech manuals to design to what to say in meetings. Sad, but true.
          • The average consumer doesn't actually do his market research...he asks the sales person in the store, and thus buys something way overpriced/over-spec'd for what he wants.
            This explains why my dad has a Dual PIV Xeon running 2 terrabytes of storage and Windows 2003 beta for his new desktop. Damn BestBuy sales drones.
        • Ah... there's the problem (or at least I consider it a problem). Many seem to believe that the economy should be push-driven (companies "sell shit") versus a pull-driven one (people "buy shit").


          I don't think I said that anything *should* be anything. That would be placing a normative judgement on it. I didn't do that. The undeniable fact is that for a substantial majority of products brand awareness and marketing *DO* affect purchasing decisions. For large ticket items, people do of course do a lot more research, and product quality is genuinely important. But product quality alone doesn't cinch the deal. For example, a BMW 325 and an Acura 3.2TL - very similar cars in specs and capabilities - nonetheless, I'd get the BMW 325 anyday (assuming I had the money).


          I agree and understand that stupid annoying advertising can drive away consumers. Not all brand awareness is necessarily good brand awareness - I am not sure what the truth on this issue is, but I suspect it depends greatly on the individual and the type of product you are talking about. So yes, perhaps having a terrible, unprofessional looking trade show booth is worse than having none at all. And no, nobody buys software or hardware *solely* based on a trade show booth. But if two competitors have very similar products, and one has a very slick, professional, organized presentation at their trade show booth, and gives away cool widgets, well, they might find that they get more attention and more people want to talk business with them.

    • by grub (11606)

      Long ago, before I had a Real Job(tm), I helped out at one of the very first comdexes to earn money to buy crusts of dry bread.

      RMS is that you? Oh wait you mention having a job..
  • noooo!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by borgdows (599861) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:40AM (#5222261)
    Computer industry will be doomed without the yearly 'Bill Gates COMDEX Keynote' !! ;-)
    • Computer industry will be doomed without the yearly 'Bill Gates COMDEX Keynote' !! ;-)

      That's OK, he's done the Keynote at CES (scaring the hell out of the little guys there: "And then our parters will put our software into all their home entertainment devices, and crush anyone who stands in the way of our vision, whatever the heck it is."

  • From restaurants. You can get dishtowels, napkins and tablecloths.
  • unsurprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Boromir son of Faram (645464) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:42AM (#5222280) Homepage
    Comdex has been in steady decline for a few years. I don't think anyone's exactly floored by this announcement, which is just ceiling the fate we all saw coming as the trade show has become increasingly walled in.

    Then we have trade shows like LinuxWorld that have trouble selling enough booths to cover their costs. I don't think this is anything to be upset over. The Internet is to some extent doing away with the need for meatspace trade shows, and in these lean times it's hardly shocking that businesses don't want to throw away money on a trade show booth that could be spent in their web presence with many times the return on investment.

    So, the Comdex bankrupty filing has been found, as legend foretold.

    • just ceiling the fate we all saw coming as the trade show has become increasingly walled in.


      Is this a pretty good joke, or just really really bad spelling?

      • If it is a joke, I don't get it. Either way, there is no "bad spelling" in the quote you clipped, just a really poor understanding that there are different words that sound alike but mean different things:

        There, there, sonny, they're not going to unlearn their bad habits.

    • Having worked in the marketing department of a company that traditionally exhibited at Comdex, I'd absolutely agree that the writing has been on the wall for a long time. But I would note that it started long before the ecomonic downturn.

      The decline in exhibitor interest was precipitated by a deterioration in the quality of attendees. We used to see a lot of real prospective B2B customers, people who were knowledgeable. Over time, COMDEX seemed to reduce the 'admission requirements' to increase revenue; over time, these customers were mostly replaced by consumer tire-kickers and people looking to drop off resumes.

      I'm not knocking comsumers (or job seekers!), but the reality is that most of the exhibitors didn't survive on consumer sales...

    • Um...Boromir son of Denethor II. Faramir would be his brother.
    • what's the key difference between the computer events that people attend & people could care less about. games, entertainment, & the chance to meet new contacts. when they brought in the age restriction they chased out the game companies & everyone that rode along on the entertainment industry.
      lets face it, games drive computer development & without them a day off work to go look at the latest hard-drive advancement is about as much fun as a trip to the dentist.
      check out the attendance @ E3.
      if i'm going simply to look up hardware specs, i'd rather stay in my cube & get paid. I had to laugh when wired ran articles on kids with their own sucessful web businesses (a few years ago) who couldn't even get into the show.
  • Too bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SpikeSpegiel (622734) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:42AM (#5222281)
    This is regretable, I wonder if they will continue to run Comdex after emerging from bankrupcy. I remember reading about comdex displays (as I have been unable to get to the west coast) and a lot of the stuff was damn cool.

    I guess I am just nostalgic for the supercooled 800MHz Alpha from Comdex '98. I got to play with that machine in Digital's labs in Marlboro...it was fun :-)
  • by OppressiveGiant (558743) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:44AM (#5222287) Homepage Journal
    I hope this means I stop getting email from key3media asking me to register for the next comdex.
    • Comdex should file for protection against it's own on-line registration system. A system that intutitively knows what you need and makes sure that you can never get to those screens. And wipes out post-data if you fail to fill out all the fields.
  • by Sonicboom (141577) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:45AM (#5222293) Journal
    With all the failed companies (Enron, etc..) and all of the "dot-bombs", I can't help to ask myself who's to take responsibility?

    Today's corporate leaders are the "Robber Barons" of the late 19th century. Unfortunately (*in the USA*) the Government doesn't seem to watch/regulate corporations, nor do they seem to care. The end result is the rich getting richer, and the average working guys like you and I are getting screwed.

    Oh - Don't worry - some other company will spring up and take over Comdex... or they'll re-create it under a different name.

    • Today's corporate leaders are the "Robber Barons" of the late 19th century. Unfortunately (*in the USA*) the Government doesn't seem to watch/regulate corporations, nor do they seem to care.

      Are you crazy? Enron broke the rules, it was destroyed. Andersen broke the rules, it was destroyed. Worldcom broke the rules, it was punished. Tyco broke the rules... and President Bush has just increased the SEC's budget and powers.

      Yes, it sucked for the average Enron shareholder, but remember that shareholders own the company. That means taking the rough with the smooth.
      • Yeah, but the head honchos off all those companies made out like bandits. And the enrons/worldcoms/etc are just the ones that got *caught*. Just like on TV's "Wildest Police Chases" they're never going to show you the ones they know about but got away.
  • by Mononoke (88668) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:52AM (#5222331) Homepage Journal
    Ever exhibit at a convention? Ever seen the bills you have to pay? The convention support firms (Freeman decorators, various unions, et al.) are killing the business.

    Just a few of the typical expenses (daily rates):

    • $20 to rent an $8 table.
    • $25 for access to an electrical outlet. Don't plug anything in yourself, though, or some teamster will break your fingers.
    • $200 for access to a fractional T1 (a very small fraction, most times).
    • $10 to rent a $4 chair.
    • Want carpet? That'll be $100. Want that carpet unrolled?...
    • Bring your own equipment? Too bad, you've got to pay a fee to be allowed to use it.
    You haven't dealt with monopolies until you've tried to exhibit at a convention. One company controls all access, labor, and equipment, and you've got no say over how any of it is handled.

    A manufacturer's money is much better spent sending out press releases and designing an infomative web presence.

    • Speaking from experience they don't break your fingers if you plug anything into an outlet. They pefrom a safety inspection on the wire, i.e. cutting it into tiny bits if it is a crappy extension cord, or taking it down to the "lab", also known as their toolbox.
      • They pefrom a safety inspection on the wire, i.e. cutting it into tiny bits if it is a crappy extension cord

        Heh. As an electrician and former member of the electricians union in Vegas (IBEW 357) I got to set up a few of these shows. When you see some nimrod powering a bank of 500W halogen spotlights off a 14-gauge Wal-Mart extension cord and wondering where that smell of burning plastic is coming from, you'd do the same thing. I had trouble not trying to strangle them with it afterwards, myself.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Preach it, brother. And in a few years when trade shows in general are decimated, I bet we'll see these same unions whine about the unfairness of it all and demanding a taxpayer handout in the billions, oblivious to the economic ecology they are gleefully slaughtering now. You can shear a sheep for many seasons, but you can only slaughter it once. The unions are slaughtering the sheep that enable them to make a living.

      The new ways of connecting companies to their clients which are proliferating through the Net (remember Reed's Law) are saying to these unions: your costs are too high for your clients, adapt or die.

      • Preach it, brother. And in a few years when trade shows in general are decimated, I bet we'll see these same unions whine about the unfairness of it all and demanding a taxpayer handout in the billions,

        That is utter crap. It isn't Union labor that is responsible for the conference hall charging $20/day for an $8 chair. The conference hall charges have nothing at all to do with what they pay their employees, they are simply gouging on the part of the conference hall operators.

        If you have a meeting in a hotel the hotel will charge you $20 a piece for an 'executive meeting maker', that is a 5"x7" pad of 10 sheets of cheap paper with the hotel logo crudely printed on it and a cheap pen which together cost perhaps $5 cents. Add in another 5 cents worth of hard boiled sweets and thats it.

        Of course it is much easier to blather on about evil unions. Predjudice is sooo much easier than thinking for yourself.

        • That is utter crap. It isn't Union labor that is responsible for the conference hall charging $20/day for an $8 chair. The conference hall charges have nothing at all to do with what they pay their employees, they are simply gouging on the part of the conference hall operators.
          You're right, it isn't the union's fault the chair is so expensive. It's the union's fault that I have to pay a 4 man crew a minimum of 4 hours pay each to unload 3 cases from my personal vehicle. It's the union's fault I have to pay a separate 4 man crew to carry the cases to my booth. (You see, the first ones were "loaders", the second crew were "hands".) It's the union's fault that I have to wait an hour for the last case to go back into my vehicle because it took them until 11:59 am to get the first two pieces in.

          No, it's not entirely the union's fault. They only get half the blame.

          • It's the union's fault that I have to pay a 4 man crew a minimum of 4 hours pay each to unload 3 cases from my personal vehicle. It's the union's fault I have to pay a separate 4 man crew to carry the cases to my booth. (

            And you pay the crew directly? No didn't think so.

            What you are saying is that the conference organizers gouge you for a minimum of 4 hours on the unload and then gouge you again for carrying it.

            Don't blame the workers for being better at bargaining than you appear to be.

            • And you pay the crew directly? No didn't think so.
              Then you'd be wrong. I don't remember exactly with IATSE chapter it was, but I was presented with their bill.

              Although I still use IATSE labor quite often, I enjoy the luxury of living in a right-to-work state, so the don't have me by the balls like they do in other states.

              Don't blame the workers for being better at bargaining than you appear to be.
              Bargaining? What's that? Is that where I get shouted at by a steward when I pull up to a dock, and then get my equipment vandalized until I pay the ransom? Then you're right, they are much better at this bargaining stuff than I am.

    • Dropping off anything, at the printing company I use to work at, if our truck driver wanted to drop anything off at the javitt center he would either have to wait 4 hours or pay the dock manager $200.
    • * $20 to rent an $8 table.
      * $25 for access to an electrical outlet. Don't plug anything in yourself, though, or some teamster will break your fingers.
      * $200 for access to a fractional T1 (a very small fraction, most times).
      * $10 to rent a $4 chair.
      * Want carpet? That'll be $100. Want that carpet unrolled?...


      Man, you got a good deal. My table at the last itec was #80 and the electic was $90.

      Sheesh.
      • They've changed the pricing on the internet access: it's $150 per system connected. Including systems which connect to your wireless network. So no open wireless, or someone will come by, check their email, and bill you $150.
      • Man, you got a good deal. My table at the last itec was #80 and the electic was $90.

        Don't forget the cost of *attending* a show. I paid $5 for parking at the last ITEC - almost 1 mile away from the cow barn ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H exhibit hall in beautiful scenic Novi Michigan. Once inside, $3+ for a coke or a hot dog.

  • by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:54AM (#5222337) Homepage
    From the NY Times article, two quotes that explain it all:

    "Crucial exhibitors began dropping out, some going out of business themselves, and others scaled back the elaborate booths that had been a staple of the dot-com era. And as Key3Media's business began looking tenuous this fall, some exhibitors became reluctant to commit to shows even six months away."

    Business cycles go up and down, and the smart business will prepare for these down cycles. After all, you cannnot assume that good times will continue indefinitely. There does come a time when companies will hesitate to spend the money to exhibit. Did Key3Media plan accordingly?

    " Key3 Media -- built up in the late 1990's as the technology boom was reaching its crest -- around the same time accumulated substantial debt, making it especially difficult to operate when the downturn in technology became sustained."

    Oops. Yet another victim of boom mentality. It seems they jumped in with both feet when the feeding was good, did the usual VC thinking of growth, growth, growth at the expense of debt, debt, debt, and now find themselves hurting when the inevitable down cycle occurs.

    Comdex provided me with a lot of fun memories. I hope it continues just so we have a place to go poke buttons and admire large screens in person. But it helps when the owners of the show (no longer Shelley Adelson) are focused on the show, not soley on the bottom line and growth for growth's sake.

    ---------

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I went to my first Comdex in 1983 or so. Apple II computers ruled, IBM was a novelty, then the next year IBM ruled. I stood right next to Bill Gates waiting for the exhibit hall to open one morning, and it didn't seem so awesome. Maybe I should have asked him for an autograph.
  • by Vapor8 (240870) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:06AM (#5222423)
    As an IT professional for the past 10 years, I can tell you that my employer has stopped expensing people's trips to Comdex. There's just not enough ROI there to approve the expense anymore. And with companies losing money left and right, extraneous expenses like trips to Comdex are the first things they look at when they want to cut costs.
    Once the economy rebounds, either Comdex, or another trade-show will rise from the ashes and become *the* place to be if you're an IT professional. Until then, corporations are more worried about bottom-line and stockholder expectations, than letting Joe IT go on a trip to Vegas...
    • I think the trade show demise is more the victom of the web. 6 years ago, at Comdex, when you wanted more info on a product, the booth-bodys referred you to their web page - no brochures, no knowledge.

      It used to take me two days to to the trade show in Toronto (before it was overtaken over by Comdex). The last Comdex here, I did in 2 hours.

      Computer shows were great when you could find products that you never knew existed and could talk to the actual designers. When it became more focused on the end user, the consumer, the web became a much better medium.
    • They went bankrupt because they went into debt during a boom. That's just stupid, but it was typical during the dot-com era.

      Save money when you have it, and spend it when you don't. That's how you ride out a recession, but some companies (and most individuals) do just the opposite: they spend money when they have lots of it, and then valiantly try to save money when money is tight. That's a recipe for bankruptcy.

    • I like Comdex

      I do enough IT work to be called an IT professional. Comdex has really helped me see different computer technologies I wouldn't know existed. I could get detailed answers on the spot rather than just a few words of jargon on a website.

      Most people say exhibitors should focus on informing people rather than on wonderful booths and therefore save money, but I found that the people with the nicest booths were also the most enthusiastic while the really plain booths had total dumbasses who treated me like dirt.
    • As an IT professional for the past 10 years, I can tell you that my employer has stopped expensing people's trips to Comdex.

      We had a similar but opposite problem. Basically the sales people who would normally go to Comdex en-masse were not going because they were not going to meet enough customers to make it worthwhile. So as a result the field marketing people were finding that their booth roster which would normally be oversubscribed was actually short of people.

      I think that Comdex have just discovered that they are in a cyclic business - which in part explains the ludicrously high margins that they could make in the good times.

      Another area that saw the same sort of effect was training. I used to wonder just how the training companies could charge such huge amounts. Then when the crash came the reason became obvious, training budgets were the first to go. So a training company with 50 people making gross margins of 50% would see their revenue cut by 75% overnight, suddenly they are making a huge loss.

      So basically the training companies and the conference companies work in the same type of mode. The companies that succeed do so because they hit exactly the right spot in the business cycle. The market never matures sufficiently to become a commodity business because the market leaders get chopped back or go bankrupt every 10 years or so with the business cycle.

    • I always assumed they were a total boondoggle; an excuse for employees that generally didn't travel to go out once per year and get liquored up in some other city at their employers expense.

      I've found that convention booths are almost universally staffed with marketing drones who parrot the marketing slogans and know little about their products and even less about the actual technolgies they implement. The better sales people (am I actually saying this?) are usually out on some golf course or at a whorehouse with their top customers.

      Plus, even when I get something out of a booth, it's hard to take that knowledge back to the office unless you're working on a current project proposal and immediately get resellers in and work on quotes. Otherwise its kind of like intellectual flotsam you lose six months later.

      The only time I can see it being valuable is if you were involved in a virtual community and the yearly get together involved a lot of panels or other kinds of interactivity you couldn't get otherwise. I don't count Comdex and their ilk in that, they're not specific enough.
  • Perspectives (Score:5, Informative)

    by Deton8 (522248) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:09AM (#5222440)
    You know, it's all in how you look at it. Since Comdex was surrounded by clouds of doom, virtually none of my competitors exhibited and thus anyone looking for my type of product had little else to do but to visit my booth. We got a thousand leads during the week, and many of these have turned into sales (we make expensive enterprise stuff, so a handful of orders can pay for the show). Another interesting thing was that due to the shitty economy, it seemed like the only people walking the hall were people who worked for companies who actually needed to buy things. Nobody was sending people to Comdex just for the hell of it. So there were a lot fewer morons asking for shirts, pens, mouse pads, and, of course, nobody asked for a cloth. I do agree, though, with previous posters who rail against paying $25 to rent a $3.99 power strip, and other such atrocities. How someone can go bankrupt doing this is beyond me.
    • Re:Perspectives (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mononoke (88668)
      I do agree, though, with previous posters who rail against paying $25 to rent a $3.99 power strip, and other such atrocities. How someone can go bankrupt doing this is beyond me.
      It's not the promoters of these conventions that get that money. It's the "decorating companies" and unions that hold exclusive service contracts with the venue that can get away with charging that kind of money.

      The Exclusive Service Contract (and the Exclusive Labor Contract) is a license to steal. However, it eventually drives off the venue's customers.

      Don't worry, the decorating companies aren't going bankrupt, just the promoters and venues.

    • It's the unions.

      The company I work for is a small company but has a good size presence at certain shows(Networld).

      In vegas we put our own booth up though the union doesn't like it.(You're stealing food from our children!).

      If it was in Florida, we would have to pay the union to set-up the booth(and damage everything), while charging us huge amounts of money for a sub-par job, because it is Against The Law for us to set it up ourselves. And you thought just big business and governments were corrupt.

      Called right to work or something like that.

  • It seems that according to their press release [key3media.com], they have a plan and intend to continue with all conferences.
  • by tmark (230091) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:22AM (#5222514)
    Does this mean I have to start buying cloths again instead of getting them at trade shows?

    On the other hand, while you might not be getting your clothes at Comdex, you are proportionately less likely to get beat up on the street for wearing said clothes and so baldly advertising your geekiness.
  • by deanj (519759)
    This outfit does other tradeshows too. JavaOne is one of 'em. Wonder if that's still going to happen?
  • CeBit anyone? Domino principle?
  • by Tsar (536185) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @11:09AM (#5222798) Homepage Journal
    Here's the memo that Key3Media CEO Fred Rosen sent out yesterday--it's even on InternalMemos.com [internalmemos.com]already.

    From: Fred Rosen - Key3Media
    Sent: Monday, February 03, 2003 8:15 AM
    Subject: Important News From Key3Media
    February 3, 2003

    To Our Colleagues in the Technology Community:

    We wanted to let you know about some news that will have a very positive impact on our ability to serve you going forward. Key3Media today reached an agreement to recapitalize the Company. It includes a voluntarily filing for Chapter 11 protection, which will allow us to remove the majority of our debt, restore a healthy balance sheet and do business with you unencumbered by extraneous financial issues.

    All of our scheduled tradeshows and conferences will take place as planned. And, we can now begin to implement an array of new programs that will help make our industry-leading events even better.

    We are pleased that our plan is backed by accomplished investor Thomas Weisel Capital Partners. In addition to providing short term funding ? which will enable us to operate our business and meet our obligations during the proceedings ? they are providing long-term financing and strategic counsel to help the Company throughout this process and beyond. While Key3Media has been impacted by the combination of a recent global decline in the IT and networking industries, a significant amount of debt on its balance sheet, as well as a decrease in business travel and hospitality after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Key3Media is a fundamentally sound business with a strong portfolio of brands, a large high-caliber client base, and a leading market position.

    We recognize that there continues to be significant demand for face-to-face marketing, and we remain committed to providing such forums. We sincerely hope this does not cause you any inconvenience and look forward to your continued support. We greatly value our relationship with you, and are committed to meeting your needs. We plan to exit the Chapter 11 process as soon as possible, with no disruption to our events. We fully intend to benefit from Chapter 11, by becoming a healthier, stronger company with a solid financial footing ? enabling us to continue to offer the world?s best information technology tradeshows and conferences.

    To view a FAQ document and for additional information, visit www.key3media.com. We will continue to update you as we move through the process, but if you have questions please don?t hesitate to call your Key3Media contact directly, or reply to this email with your message and we will respond to you within 48 hours.

    We look forward to continuing to work with you and are committed to giving you our best.

    Sincerely,
    Fredric D. Rosen
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
    Key3Media Group
  • by Spencerian (465343) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @11:12AM (#5222809) Homepage Journal
    COMDEX had its place, but in its commodity-based market, it couldn't pay the bills. LinuxWorld is stimulating intellectually but has problems paying for space. Macworld Expo is prosperous but has exhibit decline as well.

    Why not combine them all into a single expo in San Francisco? Mac OS X and Linux are second cousins in terms of the OS and have developed a symbiosis of sorts. Many products for Mac OS X work with Linux--and a show such as this would encourage vendors to make such products work.

    Every computer uses the technologies hawked at COMDEX, so it should break even, at least.

    And all would benefit from the larger crowds, and less expensive space.

    I picked SF since Apple has been inclined to stay closer to home for their shows and have considered backing out of other Macworlds in NY and Boston. An East Coast or Midwestern show might more fiscal sense, but I don't know which would be have more exhibitor and visitor oomph.
    • This would never work, period. The whole point of having your own shown in the case of Linuxworld and Macworld is to showcase YOUR products. There would be way too much competition for floorspace and other squabbles are just the tip of the iceberg.

      Larger size != profits, this is now the common mentality that plagues business today. Many of the same problems that led to Comdex's demise would occur if their was one big supershow.

      • I understand your point, but disagree. You would've been right in the past, but times have changed. The slow economy is like a bunch of Indians to the cowboys of the PC industry, and it's time for the computer companies to circle the wagons--combine resources for mutual benefit.

        No computer company or technology is an island into itself. Everyone wants to sell. Only Microsoft, for the most part, generates products that are truly proprietary, where no other OS or hardware can be made to co-operate. Would the people who sell Linux software mind if the Mac people bought their software? Hell, no! Would the vendors who normally sell PC-related hardware or software at COMDEX mind if it turned out they could add several million Linux users with just a tweak of their product? No way.

        Only Microsoft would not join in the defense as they are the robber barons sitting on the hill, watching for their opportunity to scavenge or exploit. That's business.
        • No computer company or technology is an island into itself. Everyone wants to sell. Only Microsoft, for the most part, generates products that are truly proprietary

          Apple is as proprietary as they come. Sure they use OSS for their benefit, but they make sure that their products will only work with their platform. Apple gives lackluster support to third party hardware. Now most mac fanboys will say, well Apple has to make money somewhere but if MS gave preference to their hardware over other manufactures, people would be going nuts. In short, Apple does not play well with others.

          If Apple is so committed to OSS, why don't they release the source for what makes a mac different or good, Acqua anyone? If apple is committed to openness, their software should support multiple vendors even when apple has a competitive advantage as in the case with the superdrive.

          • OK. I'll feed the troll.

            OF COURSE Apple wants people to use only their stuff with their software. They lose their competitive edge if they didn't. That includes the Aqua appearance. It belongs to Apple. If they don't want to share, I'm sure you and other OSS people can make your own.

            Why doesn't Apple release their source?

            Ask Coca-Cola why they don't release their beverage formula "for the good of the world" and you have your answer. Without trying to insult you, it's a stupid question. Apple is a business. Businesses exist to make a profit. They will do anything to achieve this to the extent of ethics and law. And, they aren't necessarily trying to impress people with views such as yours.

            With the exception of the core components of their OS (the rest is available in a form of open source), Apple uses no more unique components than, say, Compaq, or Dell. Apple is as committed to OSS as their business model. You can look at that as half-empty, or half-full. The number of UNIX users switching or adding OS X to their assortment of computers tends to lend to half-full.

            Apple has not always played well with others. That logic nearly killed them. Today, they use the same standards as everyone else except where they can show a competitive advantage (such as the DVI-inspired display connectors on their flat screens).

            Apple gives excellent support to third party hardware and the proof. Note that this support is typically the responsibity of the company that makes the product, not Apple, whose responsibilty is to ensure that the necessary hooks to use the product work.

            I'm not sure where you have your sources, but I'm betting my personal use as well as 17+ years of supporting Macs in businesses trump your source.

            Don't confuse OSS with socialism. It ain't the same. Businesses shouldn't share everything or they wouldn't be a business.

            You're going to need an Alka-Seltzer for all that stuff I fed you.
            • I'm not sure where you have your sources, but I'm betting my personal use as well as 17+ years of supporting Macs in businesses trump your source.

              The biggest problem with the Mac user base, is blind loyalty.

              here is source one [zdnet.co.uk]

              source two [com.com]

              this was a great move as well [com.com]

              this is a classic [theregister.co.uk]

              another example of Apple's fine legal department [macworld.com]

              I can link to countless other tales as well and just a little friendly advice, recounting X amount experience comes off as foolish and condescending. Personal experience with anything is not an accurate benchmark. Apple has a great product with OSX, as a tibook owner, I'm very happy, but Apple the company is not as great as their user base perceives it to be and somehow they think buying an Apple product makes them part of a movement, which is completely ludicrous, but a marketing success nonetheless for Apple

              • Blind loyalty rarely works, even if you're paid for it. I'm not. I service other computers, too.

                Source one: Just because Apple uses the DCMA doesn't make their action wrong. They simply don't want their products latched onto by a third-party in such a way that diminishes sales for the base product. In other words, Apple made iDVD for its hardware, not for some third-party. Their toys, their rules. Deal with it.

                Source two: To clarify, Apple isn't stopping people from burning DVDs with their Macs. They are trying to stop the vendors who make external DVD burners from using APPLE'S software to burn. Else, Apple loses its marketing punch to try to get you to buy a DVD-burner equipped Mac. Also, this is Apple's burning software. Their EULA alone (never mind the ratty DCMA) likely says that "you can't change our software, especially to sell another product." This is just a repeat of 'source one.'

                Source three: Again, Apple doesn't want to get itself in trouble with the DCMA (which can easily be used by other group against Apple). Apple's developer agreement is also clear on what this guy can and can't do with the iTunes SDK. Since then, he made the app a standalone, and Apple can't do a thing. Next.

                Source four: Apple owns the look and feel it calls Aqua. Copy it, and get their lawyers' wrath. What does this have to do with anything, unless you're implying that protecting what you own is somehow against the law or unethical. In that case, I'll just help myself to your computer and any software you made just for yourself and take it home...

                Source five: Again, you're just showing that Apple's lawyers are a bunch of anally attentive bastards. It doesn't disprove anything, or show that Apple is out of bounds for protecting their logo, the name "Mac," or anything that may mistakening endorse a third-party product as that from Apple.

                If you don't believe personal experience means anything, try skydiving. Right now. Or maybe even spaceflight.

                We do agree on the quality of Apple's products, yes. I don't see Apple as perfect by any means, but it has a right to defend what it owns or it won't make cash. To see Apple go completely OSS is the death of Apple. They aren't angels, no, but in a lot of devils, they're my choice for a devil.
    • Comdex was originally the home of Apple. They only pulled out when they wanted more publicity and importance on their products. Why be a pavillion when you can be the whole shebang. As for Linux? They had a pavillion too, but once Linux World got going, people wanted to set up booths there instead.

      CES used to be home to all the video games too, Nintendo, Sega, Atari, 3d0, NeoGeo all had booths. That's another industry that spun off into it's own convention.

      Point is, they all did it when the economy was awesome and people could take trips to all these different shows. Now, it just makes sense to re-organize and absorb the smaller conventions back into bigger ones. (Hell, even the porno conventions spun off, those used to be integrated too)
  • I assumed everyone else did too. Last year it was dead. The number of percipitants was way down along with the retailers. Nothing like it used to be in the late 90's. Kind of sad to see such a staple of up and comming tech going down because of lack of intrest or overall funds.
  • "Does this mean I have to start buying cloths again instead of getting them at trade shows?"

    No but you buy them cloths to make your CLOTHES!!
  • Here is my take on the Comdex type meetings.

    I have been to both national and local meetings
    and shows.

    Both as an exhibitor and a patron, I have to say that I much prefer the smaller, local shows than the large national ones.

    The smaller local and regional shows are often cheaper in registration fees. Often there is no
    travel at all. If there is, it may be a 100 to
    200 mile drive and staying at a Motel 6 type of
    place or in one event I went to, 4 of us rented
    a home for the week.($600 divided by 4 for 4
    days resulted is approx $40 per night)

    There is a much more community feeling to the event. You can see the whole thing and meet
    all of the exhibitors without having to do
    a marathon run each day. Seminars are smaller;
    you should be able to ask all of your questions.
    Granted, there might not be as many models, but
    who really needs them?

    As an exhibitor, I find that the smaller halls
    are much more 'hang loose' in what you can do
    and bring. I was involved in one where we all
    assembled and dissambled our own boots. AV was
    done by volunteers on barter for free tickets.
    Chairs and tables were available if you did not
    bring in your own. Booths could hand out food
    without problems from the hall.

    Overall, I much prefer a closer-to-home experience
    like this then the national shows.
  • I'm really going to miss waiting hundreds of hours for freaking cabs....
  • Since the AVN/Porn Conventions happen on the same week and in the same place as Comdex in Vegas, why can't the porn industry bail them out?

    From what I read, everyone goes to the porn convention anyways.

    heh

    Dolemite
  • Dear Comdex,

    If you didn't suck, you wouldn't have gotten to this point.

    I've been to a few of your trade shows here in Vancouver, and to be honest, it was pathetic. The people standing in front of cool-looking technology had no technical knowledge to explain it. The costs were prohibitive for vendors, so you ended up with a few huge booths by Apple, Microsoft...but very few small ones. The schwag people were giving away was stupid (plastic balls, golf pencils - no t-shirts, nothing informative about the products). And even though people were barely trickling in and there were no lineups, it took half an hour to process badges to allow people in.

    Comdex, you are mismanagement of the highest order. You provided a tradeshow that no one wanted and weren't willing to change to entice your potential customers. You obviously had no idea who we in the technical field are and never cared to ask us what we really wanted to see. You were the worst of the dot-com boom, and couldn't be bothered to change for the dot-com decline.

    So I'm not sorry to see you go. Goodbye Comdex, let's hope that you are the last.

    Kickstart

  • As a journalist (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stanl (646331)
    I find this news unfortunate. Comdex and the Consumer Eletronics Show are my two really big opportunities to get out of my small city, meet with companies face to face, and poke and prod technology that I don't have a chance to work with because I am too low on the press lists to get loaner units. Watching Comdex shrivel and die in Chicago was sad enough -- the technology press really needs these shows...
  • Back in 1999 I registered for a Comdex show in Toronto, got one of those nifty little developer cards and all. I used a unique email address for that registration, and to this day, that address gets way more spam than any other address I've ever used.

    Out of curiosity, I set up another unique address, and sent a complaint to the Canadian Comdex people from that address about all the spam I was getting. I got a nice reply from them, denying any wrongdoing of course.

    Two days later that address started getting spammed like crazy.

    So long Comdex.
    Thanks for nothing.
  • Does this mean I have to start buying cloths again instead of getting them at trade shows?

    I'm afraid so. And it looks like you are already saving up by not buying any vowels!

    -D

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