ATRE Redux

Starbucks Pacific Century Place, Beijing
Perfecting the Double Espresso Belch
1410 Hours.

I haven’t been to an ATRE conference since I stopped working for a global mega-branding conglomerate that was happy to foot the bill to let me spend two days listening to talking heads speak to each other with no hope of interacting with the panelists. I haven’t felt the worse for it: I don’t see a lot of value in gabathons that base their format on allowing panelists and speakers to preen themselves, and since I’m not a compulsive networker, I get no value from ATRE’s extended-break and cocktail-party schmooze-ins.

Their aggressive telemarketing is also a nice put-off, as is a conference-only admission price that could buy me a new MacBookPro and an HP Color LaserJet.

So when the spam – er, direct-marketing email-blast – for ARTE 07 in Mumbai landed in my email box, I was surprised to catch myself kind of pleased for Alex Vieux, ATRE’s owner and the publisher of the resuscitated-but-still-on-life-support Red Herring magazine. Alex has bagged himself a whale, landing Steve Ballmer as the keynote for the show. Alex has worked hard to build ATRE and its European sister ETRE into a kind of Geek Davos, and landing Steve Ballmer as a keynote is an indication that he is having some success.

Either that, or Ballmer is running out of non-Microsoft conferences where he is feted onstage.

Alas, I’ll be giving ATRE a pass again this year, choosing instead to hang at MOTODEV Asia and see what the future holds for mobile apps. Call me a dweeb if you must, but the idea of spending a day hanging out with entrepreneurs, designers, and coders sounds like a lot more fun than the more rarified company of CEOs and investment bankers.