Each year at the Office 2.0 conference about Web-based business apps and processes, paid attendees get some cool gadget pre-loaded with information relevant to the conference. In 2006--the first year of the show--the gadget was an iPod Nano with the conference schedule built in. In 2007, attendees got an iPhone with links to the conference information and the show's social-networking apps pre-loaded. This year, the giveaway is an HP 2133 Mini-Note PC (the Linux version, not Windows). Given that the cost of attending the conference ($1,495--but read to the end for a discount code) is half that of two other conferences popular with the Web 2.0 crowd, Demo and TechCrunch50, one has to wonder how the organizer of the Office 2.0 is making any money. Especially since the Office 2.0 venue is leagues fancier than those other shows' locales.
Here's the secret: he isn't.
Ismael Ghalimi is doing this conference for the love of it. "I love the workmanship of work, the business of these tools," he told me. "I like interacting with the people who are passionate about this stuff. Somehow it all fits together. We don't have very sophisticated motives. It's just plain fun."
Now, to be clear, both his business and his wife benefit from the conference. Ghalimi's day job is is running Intalio, which provides open-source business process management software, both free versions as well as paid subscriptions for large companies; Intalio has about 400 customers, the newest of which is the Bank of Venezuela. Ismael's wife, May Chang Ghalimi, is CEO of the Monolab Workspace, an office suite rental business designed to be compatible with the needs of Web 2.0 start-ups. Subscriptions even come with their own carbon offsets. Exposure to the Web 2.0 productivity wonks who come to the Office 2.0 conference no doubt help the Ghalimis sell their services.