It’s just a little get-together with a few of our closest friends….

SolidWorks World

Yes, it’s time once again for SolidWorks World, the annual
Grateful Dead Concert for engineers and designers. Time to break out the
tie-dyes and the slide rules (sorry, I know that won’t mean anything to half of
you; find someone with gray or thinning hair like me and they’ll tell you). Hard
to believe that eleven years ago the first event was held with a couple hundred
customers in Palm Springs, CA. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to give you a
peek at the “behind the scenes” of SWW.

The event planning actually starts several years in advance.
Because of the size of audience, there are only a handful of venues left on the
planet that can take proper care of the participants. What goes into the
recipe? Take things like proximity to an international airport, availability of
reasonably priced hotels, unique venues for get-togethers in the evening, and
toss in a warm sun. Yes, we learned our lesson at SWW 2004 in Boston in
January. Not a good testament for global warming that year. Also, consider that in any year, half of the international attendees will have to
fly across the continental US to get there–from the east or the west.

Once the site is selected, it’s time to build the agenda.
This actually starts a few weeks after the last SWW, when the team assembles
and locks down for a day of debriefing and reviews of customer likes and
dislikes. By summer the theme is agreed upon, and general sessions take
early shape. The keynote speaker is selected after reviewing about 500 videos
and countless pitches by speakers bureaus; “…like, we know that Joe Schmo
hasn’t been relevant in forty years, but he’s cheap and will say whatever you
want him to say…”

The fun kicks into high gear in the early winter as the
R&D and Product Management teams begin to hash out scenarios for the
preview of the next version; always the conference highlight. That includes a
spirited debate–do we go funny and edgy (like The Dating Game–we barely
avoided getting arrested on that one) or try to act grown up and serious? Whose
features and enhancements make the grade and whose end up on the cutting room

So here we are a week out, and we get the last panicked
rush of attendees–and we always find a way to make it work. Last year over
700 people “walked in” the week of the event…that was fun!

This year is no different. You’ll see something you expect,
and you’ll see some surprises. You’ll catch up with old friends. You’ll see
some cool technology, and cool people making products that improve our lives.

And then, one week after it’s over, we start on SWW 2010.

The real surprise here is that NO ONE in the company does
this job full-time–everyone does his or her role in making SWW a success IN
ADDITION to his or her day job! It’s a gratifying experience for me to see how
everyone contributes with a singular goal–to make this the best SWW ever.