Industry Analyst & Strategist
Rumors had been swirling for a while, frankly strong enough to say it was a done deal, but details were impossible to confirm. I would have loved to report on this earlier. From the official announcement, WorldHostingDays, CloudFest is now part of WHD Events GmbH: “We are excited to announce that CloudFest is now part of WHD Event[s] GmbH. Our team has been active members in the cloud industry for over two decades and we’ll continue to bring you the same great CloudFest events you expect. We know CloudFest helps strengthen and grow the global cloud community and we’re committed to making them better than ever.”
What gets slightly confusing, if you don’t know the history, is thatWorldHostingDays is NOT the WHD in WHD Events. Sources at WorldHostingDays GmbH confirm that WHD Events GmbH is a separate firm. For clarification, GmbH is a German corporation form (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung), literally translated as a limited liability business, similar to an LLC in the United States.
WHD Events is founded for the express purposes of this acquisition, Domain Name Wire, GoDaddy is selling NamesCon and CloudFest: “WHD Events GmbH is the buyer. Corporate database searches don’t show this entity yet, and I suspect it’s a new business spun up for the acquisition.” I followed up on this as well, researching at the Gemeinsames Registerportal der Länder. The only data available so far is for WorldHostingDays and not WHD Events. What I also can confirm is that Thomas Strohe and an unnamed partner are the founders of WHD Events. You may know Thomas as the founder of WorldHostingDays.
Through a number of iterations, WebHostingDay eventually became CloudFest. Thomas was involved with WorldHostingDays until the end of January 14. There is a little confusion around all the firms and acquisitions, however. At some point Host Europe Group (HEG) acquired full control of WorldHostingsDays which included WHD.Global (now CloudFest) as well as NamesCon.
In 2017, GoDaddy acquired HEG, which had a large portfolio of hosting companies, as well as the conferences. The official CloudFest name appeared in 2018, was an immense conference, (seven days, thousands of people), and at the traditional encampment of Europa-Park. Frankly, this is one of the key conferences of the year that I miss most during Covid, which includes WordCamp Europe and WordCamp US.
Why did this sale happen in the first place? While the conference (specifically CloudFest) grew in attendance, there may have been trepidation from hosts and domainers participating/sponsoring a conference that, as one person in the know said, was “the GoDaddy show trying not to be the GoDaddy show run by (and for) GoDaddy.” This person followed up with, “I know there were sponsors who passed on participating due to the concern of nourishing their competitor.”
So as an independent entity with a greater GoDaddy, this may have been a revenue losing proposition from the get go, but also I’m guessing that a greater ROI wasn’t trickling into the rest of GoDaddy. The terms of the sale are currently unknown but I’m guessing were very reasonable.
One thing that’s been on my mind for a few weeks is that there is a track at CloudFest called Web Pros in the Cloud, “Cloud infrastructure only matters if it helps people to make things happen. Web Professionals and eCommerce enablement organizations form a vital link in the cloud-services demand chain. Together you become a powerful force—Web Pros and hyperscale platforms teamed up to save countless SMBs during the COVID-19 pandemic—but first you must meet each other. Web Pros in the Cloud at CloudFest is the best place to forge that link.”
Where have I heard of Web Pros before? That’s right, it’s another company out of Europe. Oh, and Thomas Strohe is a board member of WebPros. The main sponsor for the Web Pros track (yes pay attention to the space between words) has actually not yet been announced. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t sponsored by WebPros, becoming WebPros in the Cloud.
Super speculative, there has actually already been one WebPros Summit back in 2019. 2020 obviously impacted all of these events, but I wonder whether a slower and more consolidated rollout of large events in 2022 will occur. If we keep following that line of thinking, and that there already is a Web Pros track at CloudFest, now owned by a board member of WebPros, will there be some special relationship going forward?
I’d be remiss in not mentioning that virtual CloudFest is happening March 23 – 25.