This was my first Sugarcon as a SugarCRM Business Partner and user. As we saw on BP day, about 2/3 or 200 people in the room were also at their first Sugarcon, many of whom became partners this year, some as recently as the Friday before it started.
Impressive for any vendor to have that type of growth.
We also found out in turn that SugarCRM nearly doubled in size their employees to about 350 total including contractors/consultants. Many of the employees were here and it was great to meet so many people. Oddly enough for me, I met few developers, but then I have few issues with SugarCRM that require me meeting the developers. On the other hand, the executive teams and regional sales execs were openly available and mixed with everyone and most importantly answered questions uniformly without the usual "go ask him" or "let me get back to you" or any spin. Very refreshing. Plus they want input and encourage it from different angles as they are poised to grow into more enterprises.
More numbers for you to think about:
11 Million downloads of the Free Community Edition
1 Million active users of SugarCRM
380 Business Partners
40 New Business Partners in Q1 2012 alone
I met many partners and we had discussions around go to market ideas, competitive discussions and where people have come from and where they want to go with SugarCRM. Some look forward to the IBM efforts but are wary as a Business partner what this means to them. Size matters, so does certifications and smaller partners will face similar issues to what the IBM smaller business partners have faced the last 2 years. If you are on the path towards growing your business and reaching higher levels of customer numbers life will be good for you.
The event itself was run like a large user group meeting which extended the more family and friendly like atmosphere, not bad for about 1,000 people. I compare it to other IBM events which is probably unfair given their size and stature, but in my world few events are this size, they are either smaller or larger. Not very formal about anything, they had a nice app for iPhones (My Android device had issues), good breaks and healthy snacks (It was in San Francisco) split into technical tracks and sales/sponsor tracks as well as more private business partner training sessions.
Guy Kawasaki was a great presenter, he had also spoken at Lotusphere this year I wonder when I will hear him next this year.
The analysts and pundits that provided their insights were for the most part on the money but also not tight or heavy handed. Basically everything was light and informal and I credit the SugarCRM motto of "User First" with being so open as well as being an open sourced company.
The Exploratorium is a great place to go and everyone should go when in San Francisco.
Partner training was an added bonus and I spent my time not on the tech side, I am not a developer, but on the sales and business sessions looking at the SugarCRM methodology to encourage sales with a process that works. Bruce, Olivier and Erin did some great enablement sessions and roll plays.
On a personal level kudos to the Kosher caterer in Oakland, that steak was huge and a big surprise. I also had a "baseball card" signed by Clint Oram, the SugarCRM CTO. Key speakers had these cards made up by SugarCRM which were handed out. The uncut sheet is probably very valuable.
My only complaint, aside from my android issues, is that the sessions were not recorded. When you have 6-8 parallel sessions running much is missed and slides don't cut it. A number of customers expressed this as well something to think about for next year. My session on the "Boss is Anti-Social" will be set up as a webinar or podcast at some point soon.
Congratulations to Chris Bucholtz and everyone involved in making the event so successful.
See you next year in New York, Waldorf Astoria, April 7-11, 2013. If you want more details they have the website up already over here.