To our family, friends, fans, and community:
After a fair amount of debate and discussion, it is with deep regret that the leadership cadre that produces Skytalks has decided to not go forward with this year’s event.
2020 is a year that nobody really expected would happen. What appears to be a global biological crisis is not the future that we expected or hoped for. But even with all the smoke and mirrors surrounding what is going on, we felt we needed to make a decision. Many of our decision points reflect those made by our dear family at BSides Las Vegas but we wanted to share ours anyway:
Right now, Las Vegas is effectively shut down – certainly the facilities for a transitory gathering of people. The optics available to us now appear that, barring a major situational change, gatherings the size of DEF CON (25,000+ people) are extremely unlikely to be allowed to happen in Las Vegas in the relatively near future, especially by early August.
Even allowing that the event is permitted to go on, the amount of people that Skytalks attracts and packs in a room (our space last year had a rated capacity of ~600) would be a major vector for contagion. Our “line con” is not better, by the amount of people we pack into our lines to get in. With an infection as serious as this seems to be, we feel that asking our attendees, volunteers, and presenters to expose themselves to this risk would be less than responsible at this time.
As we’re approaching 90 days before DEF CON, a couple of things become more evident to us. First, persons who may be traveling internationally are reaching a turning point for arranging travel. Similarly, other people who are considering whether to attend DEF CON in Las Vegas are making travel plans. Second, DEF CON and its various departments are in the midst of operational planning for their event and space usage this year, and by withdrawing our participation as early as practical this year, they might be able to utilize that space should they choose to go forward this year.
Finally, like BSides Las Vegas, we are concerned about attendance, and the availability of our volunteers. Companies who normally send dozens of people to participate in “Hacker Summer Camp” are sending a bare few, if any. Some companies are even cancelling pre-scheduled vacation days for employees. And on top of that, persons with comorbidities in our own staff are reconsidering their participation this year, not only with Skytalks, but with DEF CON itself.
We know that we are looked to as pioneers and leaders in our community, and we realize that people may make decisions based on what we do and say. We didn’t come to this conclusion lightly, nor was it completely unanimous in our leadership cadre. But our consensus was that, given what we see now and what we generally expect to happen going forward, we couldn’t proceed with doing Skytalks as a physical, in person event this year.
We hope and are preparing to come back in 2021. There will be plenty of stories to tell and secrets to share. There will be truths to be uncovered, and money to be put in the bucket. It is our fervent hope that we see all of you, our friends and family, when next we have the opportunity to meet.
on behalf of the Skytalks Leadership Cadre
26 April 2020 (UTC or DIE, baby)