RALEIGH — Back in 2012, Todd Lewis decided to bring his new conference, All Things Open, to Raleigh. While not unknown, Raleigh was a bit of a dark horse contestant for hosting a major tech conference at the time. As Lewis told me Tuesday when we spoke about his choice, “If we were investing in stocks, we would have taken a long position on Raleigh. And that turned out to be 100% correct.”
(This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
TechWire: You’ve done well by having the conference here. Can you talk a little bit about how the partnership with Raleigh and the Convention Center has worked out for you?
Todd Lewis: The Convention Center is a great place to have this conference. The layout is very conducive to people finding things easily, setting up breakout sessions and keynotes, and having ample room for everyone. It’s grown with us. We’ve seen updates and improvements made to the space which has been great. This is our 11th year and we’ve been here for literally for 11 years. We’ve started here, and we’ve grown every year here.
TW: And Raleigh has grown in that time. You came here maybe a little bit before it was popular.
TL: I think we’ve helped Raleigh, not that Raleigh wasn’t on the tech scene before, certainly it was. But I think we’ve elevated the status of Raleigh a bit within the technology space, and certainly within the open source space. But we’ve also benefited from the growth here too. So it’s been very reciprocal, which is exactly the way relationships should work.
I can honestly tell you, we’ve gotten some things wrong. We’ve made some mistakes. But one thing we did get right was choosing Raleigh and basing the conference here. I can honestly say I saw this coming. I was on the ground here 12 or 13 years ago and you could kind of see it coming. There was enthusiasm here that was very different. So we were long on Raleigh. If we were investing in stocks, we would have taken a long position on Raleigh, and that turned out to be 100% correct.
TW: What are some of the things that you’re most excited about for this year?
TL: We get to do co-located events on Sunday as an on-ramp into the traditional conference days. Those were super popular this year [and] really well received. One is a DEI, an inclusion and diversity event. We ended up having to cut off registration; we had about 660 people register for that. The attendance was great, the speaker lineup was amazing. And the conversations were off-the-charts good.
And then the other is the Community Leadership Summit. And again, we had to cut registration off on that with about 660 as well. We started the inclusion diversity event, but CLS chose to relocate here; they actually moved from the West Coast to Raleigh to precede the event. And that’s now been here for three years.
TW: Talk a little bit about some of the emerging technology that is being represented here. It’s been an interesting year.
TL: Sure. I mean, our keynotes that are today (Tuesday), the majority of them are focused on AI. And after that, there’s a dedicated panel discussion focused on the impact of AI on developers. I think the pros and cons work both ways, but AI is going to be transformative, and we’re certainly discussing that.
Blockchain is still important. I think it’s impacting people in ways maybe they don’t realize, so we certainly take a look at that. We focus on a lot of developer-related technologies. The majority of our attendees every year identify themselves as developers or programmers, so we try to curate content accordingly. Cloud [technologies], data collection, data analytics, and storage. All those related topics are things that we try to focus on.
TW: It’s Cybersecurity Month. Care to speak about security for these emerging technologies?
TL: Martin Mikos, who is the CEO of HackerOne was one of our keynote speakers Monday. And he delivered an amazing talk. And we have a track dedicated to security and it’s always one of our most popular ones, and this year was no different. Standing room only for literally every session on that track.
TW: Thank you for your time and congratulations on the event. Any last thoughts?
TL: Just thanks to the city. Thanks to RTP. This is one of the best locations in the world. And we’re extremely grateful to be here.
All Things Open will be back in Raleigh next year, October 27-29th, 2024.