End of an Era

Authored by Aaron Powell on behalf of the DDD Sydney committee.

In Short

We, the organising committee of DDD Sydney have made a decision put DDD Sydney on an indefinite hiatus. We’d like to thank the volunteers, sponsors, speakers and especially the community that have supported us over the years.

The Longer Version

In 2010 I was lucky enough to speak at the first DDD Melbourne event, it was the first event I’d spoken at and I met a lot of awesome people. I met another Sydney-sider who was also speaking at the event and together we decided that DDD needed to come to Sydney.

Over the next few years DDD Sydney ran, I was involved to a degree but it was really they were the one was ensuring it happened, and after a few years burnout had set in, they no longer were in a position to run it and the event wound down.

As the years went by I was often asked what was happening with DDD Sydney or when was the next even going to happen. I would brush it off because I wasn’t really the “owner” and running an event wasn’t something that I was in a position to pick up.

In late 2015 it had become apparent that there was a real demand for the kind of event that DDD is so I got together with Steve Godbold and Raph Haddad and we decided to make it happen. We’d never run a conference before so we didn’t really know what we were doing (as my wife, who does have event management experience, will attest to 🤣). After several months of “we should do some planning” we set to work and turned around DDD Sydney 2016 in about 6 weeks.

By all accounts our first event went well, no one saw any of the fires that we had on the day (joking, I don’t think there were any), and over the next few years we kept looking for ways to evolve the event to meet the needs of the community, introducing a junior dev track and having a career-centric track.

But when 2019 came around things were looking a bit different, we struggled in pretty much every way. Some of our committee needed to step away; we struggled with sponsors; and we struggled to sell tickets. I was concerned about the event that we even questioned if it could run the event without losing money. Thankfully, things picked up and we were able to run a successful DDD Sydney 2019 but it was down on the levels of the previous years. This was a clear setback for us as we were doing the future planning for 2020 and beyond.

As a result we needed to stop and take stock, what was different now compared to the previous years? In 2019 we were the best prepared we’d ever been for DDD so far, nearly 6 months of planning and a long way from the first event we’d run!

The key thing we identified was the growth of the Sydney tech community as a whole. There’s more meetups than there’s ever been and more conferences. Between August and October we identified around a dozen events that we’d overlap with. We concluded that: DDD Sydney has served its purpose, bringing transparency and diversity to the wider tech community.

Additionally, some more of our organising team decided to step down their involvement, myself included, which saw us entering a new decade with a smaller organising team. So with all of this considered, we started to think about what we wanted to do with 2020 and beyond.

And then COVID-19 hit. Concern around it started picking up just as we were gearing up to run our first By Night for the year and we made the tough decision to cancel that event. With the committee dwindling and not having the level of interest that we’d hoped for from the event anyway, it was the final nail in the coffin.

Talking with the other organisers, we asked how best we can support the community and each of us wanted to tackle new projects that we’re passionate about in the communities we belong beyond DDD Sydney.

So here we are. It’s been a wild ride over the last 4 years. Again, we want to thank everyone who has supported us over the years. There are so many amazing communities out there and we want to encourage everyone to go out and do amazing things. We’ll be doing that too.