BSidesLV 2013 After-Action Report « Get ready for the Next Big Thing

BSidesLV 2013 After-Action Report

Looking for video of the talks? It’s all here:


Attended BSidesLV but haven’t taken the exit survey? It’s here: We want your feedback!


Finally recovered from the madness that is “Security Summer Camp Week” and realizing this post is long over-due, we’d like to share some of the data and insights as to what makes BSidesLV tick, as well as some changes that are already in the works for next year. There will be a follow-up to this post in the coming days, as our new Board of Directors will be meeting for the first time on Tuesday and much of what we’re planning has yet to be discussed and agreed upon, but we’ll share what we can – for now.

Oh, and speaking about the Board of Directors, we’ve expanded the Board to 5 and have invited James McMurry of Milton Security and Meredith L. Patterson to join the Board as General Directors. Both have accepted and we couldn’t be more delighted that they have. We’re very much looking forward to their input and can’t wait to see what new directions they may take BSidesLV in.

And while we’re honored for his almost two years of service, Joshua Marpet has stepped-down as Secretary of the Board, so he can dedicate more time to family obligations and developing his business, Guarded Risk. His resignation is up on Pastebin, here: Thank you, Joshua, for all of the energy you’ve put into BSidesLV, to help us get the new version off the ground. We’ve already come a long way, baby!

We’re currently vetting a couple of people to take over as Secretary of the Board and we will let you know who we’ve chosen, as soon as the process is complete.


What will stay the same and what will change:

We’re back at The Tuscany! – The same: Almost all of the feedback we received about the venue was amazingly positive. “Shades of the AP” was heard most often, as well as loving the open chill-out space and the way the tracks were (mostly) off the main room. The Tuscany Staff  loved us and said that our Participants were one of the most polite groups they’ve ever had through there. THANK YOU!   The few negative comments were generally in regards to missing The Artisan’s kitchy, intimate feel. As much as we’d love to keep BSidesLV that small, there’s just too much demand that we expand. Heck, a lot of us wish we could go back to years I & II, when it was a house party, with talks, a BBQ and < 200 people, but unfortunately, that’s just not possible anymore. The change: More rooms! Tuscany has agreed to put 350 rooms on our block next year. That’s almost half the hotel!  The room block will be opening soon and we’ve made the same arrangements, in that we’ll have the buildings starting at the pool as all “us” and working our way out, as needed. And as always, so long as we have rooms available on our block, each room will come with 2 badges. That’s another 400 badges being released, right there, so keep that in mind when you’re booking your rooms for Vegas next year. We limited the attendence this year, to see how the new space played-out. Now that we know, we have a good idea of how many more badges we can release and while the majority of them will be those 400 connected to room rental, we’ll have more GA badges up for grabs next year, as well.

The After Party – The same: Everyone that gave us feedback on the party raved about the atmosphere. “Best party of the week”,  “Totally loved that it was so chill and conversations could happen”, “Reminded us of the Pool Party days at the AP” “No one got too drunk to be near the pool”. We know that most of you have to attend the overly loud, flashyVendor parties for work, so we want to make sure you have a chill place to relax and unwind, before DC kicks off and the volume levels all go back up to 11 again. The change: The music didn’t exactly work out the way we’d hoped and pretty early on, we turned it off, because it had hit a few too many vibe killing, heavy tracks in a row. Most of this was because of a missed instruction on our part to shuffle the playlist, due to the way it was organized, and for that, we apologize. Next year, we’ll make sure the music keeps going all party long, but still at 3.5/4, so the conversations will keep flowing with the drinks. The drink tickets. We went to each bartender before the party started and handed them a half a box of drink tickets each, with the instructions to keep the bars flowing to eliminate your need to hunt tickets down, but apparently, many of you were still looking for tickets well into the party, so we apologize again, for that message not getting passed along. We’ll do the same next year, so keep that in mind. We received almost 2/3’s of a box of unused tickets back from Catering after the party, so we’re sure that none of you were drinking enough. ;D We are going to try to get the Tuscany to honor the tickets all the way through Monday next year, so that you can still relax with a few drinks and a few friends at the Tuscany on Sunday night, after DC is over.

The Speaking Tracks – The same:  Breaking Ground, Common Ground, Proving Ground, Underground, Training Ground, roll-your-own, show-up, sign-up Lightning Talks. They’ll all be back. Common Ground proved so popular, that we supplimented some of the open slots in Underground and the first half of the day of Lightning Talks this year, just to fill out the schedule. We’re sorry this was so confusing and a lot of people were getting lost trying to find the right rooms. We’ll fix that for next year. Promise!  We know, we know, “More tech talks” We hear you, but you also need to understand that we can only schedule what’s submitted. We didn’t exactly turn down any amazing talks this year (OK, maybe one or two, but they also couldn’t follow the CFP directions):. Want to hear more tech talks? Convice your friends to submit them! Or submit one yourself. BSidesLV is very much a Community Conference. Get involved, don’t be a bystander! The change: The layout. Underground will be Underground and Common Ground will be Common Ground. If we don’t get enough Underground submissions, the room will be dark when not in use. Too many Common Ground submissions? Sorry, but that track is already full. Underground and Common Ground will both be moved to right off of the main room. No more trekking down that hallway. We’ll be moving  Training Ground down there, instead and moving Press out of the main room, as well. And given the amount of space down in Tuscany and Siena, odds are great that we’ll have room for more than one Training Ground session at a time. We can split those rooms up, which means we won’t have to turn down instructors, simply due to lack of room. We’ll also be cutting the schedule back. No Keynotes next year, and first tracks will open at 10:30AM, to give Registration more time to get everyone processed and you more time to socialize over beverages.  And we’ll end all tracks at 6PM (Closing Ceremonies will be over by 7). This means less talks, but it also gives you time to get to those company dinners and parties that it seems that almost everyone is obligated to attend, without having to cut-out too early.

The Events – The same: Dichotomy had a blast and has agreed to bring back the Joes vs. Pros CTF. Aaron Crawford and Squirrels in a Barrel also will be returning with the “World Championship SECTF”. Next year, there will be more intergration between the two. We hear that Dichotomy and Aaron are already hard at work together, to make your learing experiences even better. FALE has also agreed to return to run the Lockpick area again.  The change: We have a new Contest and Events Area Director, to help keep things running smoothly and to take your suggestions on how to make it better and/or what you’d like to see added. Please help us welcome @shunkydave to the Core Staff and let him know what you want to participate in at YOUR Con! Understand, though, that BSidesLV is a Do-ocracy. We may love your ideas and will keep them in mind, but you’re much more likely to see fruition, if you come to us with a plan and the ability and willingness to run the contest or event yourself. We have also added @rackburn and @leighhollowell to our Core Staff, to run the Silent Auction for us next year. They’ll be soliciting and collecting Auction items and keeping tabs on everything, to make sure it all goes smoothly and everyone receives their items before they leave Vegas.

T-Shirts – Were a complete disaster this year. We asked folks to pre-order (but not pre-pay), which they did, but then they never paid for or picked-up their tshirts. We gave over half of the BSidesLV shirts to Las Vegas GoodWill and we didn’t even over-order, except for 5-10 shirts per size, for last minute purchases. Next year, we’ll either only order shirts for Staff/volunteers/Speakers or insist that all shirts be pre-paid, so we don’t order more than we’ll distribute. Or just eat the cost entirely, only order half the shirts and give them away, first come, first served.


Now, The Numbers.


Attendees registered:

173 Hotel Guests  (2 badges  per room – 346 total)
404 General Admission Pre-Reg through Eventbrite
70 Speakers (all received a +1)
75 Volunteers
25 Safety & Security
18 Core Staff
10 Press
10 BEAM Donors ($500-$1000+)
33 ROCK Donors ($100-$499)
21 Paid Sponsors (for a total of 86 Sponsor Badges)
24 In-Kind Sponsors

Registered on Eventbrite: 938
Attended: 610 (+104 Hotel rooms [208 badges])
No Shows: 328 (-104 Hotel rooms that registered on Eventrite for Workshop notifications, but didn’t check-in at Con Reg)

Monies Raised: $132,000 (+$12K hold-over in accounts from 2012 for $144K)
Budgeted: $138,000
Actual costs: ~$125,000

Monies Spent:

$86K on Venue – F&B, A/V, Rooms for Special Guests and Core Staff, Pool buyout for party, Misc. charges
$5.6K on Shuttles
$8.2K on Credentials (badges/wristbands)
$6.8K on t-shirts
$1.5K on Priniting
$717 on Event Insurance
$650 on Radio Rentals
$3500 Miscellaneous (LPV/Entertainment/Office Supplies/SA & Raffle prizes /Transportation /Shipping
~$5000 Legal Fees to Tax Attorney (501(c)(3) filing 07/12/2013 – awaiting determination from IRS)
~$2000 Tax Accountant
$5000 down payment on Venue for 2014

Additional info:
Slient Auctiion raised $4375, for a 3-way split of $1458.333 (rounded-up to $1460) for EFF, HFC and

Raffle raised $692. First place was 50/50 $346 to the winner, $346 to Banasidhe’s bar tab BSidesLV 2014 start-up fund.

Feel free to hit either @bsideslv or @banasidhe up on twitter, if you have basic questions or email info [at] bsideslv [dot] org if you’d like to share your thoughts with both Banasidhe and Jack or need more than 140char.

A HUGE THANK YOU, to everyone that Attended, Volunteered, Sponsored, Spoke, Taught and/or otherwise helped to ensure BSidesLV 2013 was such a fun time and great success! We can’t wait until 2014!

(OK, maybe we can wait for the event, but we’re already planning! 😉