I’ve just about caught up from the C-IB 2008 ‘Internet and Business’ Conference last week. This is now the largest conference in Russia with 3500 people registering this year (up by 1500 on 2007). Take note SES and SMX, this scene is developing quickly and people are hungry for conferences. Admittedly the popularity of CIB has been helped by free entrance but the No.2 conference, organised by Ashmanov is also growing fast with a $685 price ticket (1100 attendees last year).
Video: It’s not a Russian Conference without Champagne.
The surprising thing for me was how upbeat everyone was about the economy and industry. Although we’ve seen rising food prices, the credit crunch hasn’t seemed to affect Russia to date. The reason for this is that during a credit crunch, cash is king and Russia is a country with little debt and lots of cash. The oil stabalization fund is running at $160bn currently and the Government under spent their budget by around $450bn this year. All in all, it’s a booming economy here and the internet is no exception.
Yandex, Rambler and all the major players have seen their profits double for the 4th year running. GazProm and other Russian powerhouses are now investing in new media, the former having just acquired the Russian video sharing site, RuTube.ru for $15m.
The C-ib conference is a great opportunity to meet all these people. One of the highlights for my trip this year was playing Mafia (Werewolf) until 5 a.m. with everyone. I’d brought my SEOMoz cards from PubCon Vegas so we soon made use of them.
It really brought it home to me how unique the Russian search industry is when no one in the room recognised Matt Cutts or any of the other SEO celebrities pictured on the cards. I promised them we’d put together a ‘Russian Edition’ for 2009.
Video: The Chocolate Fountain was very popular (especially with Anna!)
For the first time there were two English speakers present and a small handful of foreigner attendees. ComScore and Omniture were also present. The organisers had arranged for live translation in the main auditorium with free headsets, a very professional touch and hopefully one they extend for next year.
I’ll be writing up my posts and notes from the conference over the next couple of weeks. The bar-room chats will remain private though ;) My only complaint would be the over-subscribed Wi-Fi which crawled for most of the event, but considering that was a free service it still beat the offering at most US/European conferences. A hotel booking mix-up also left us staying in their $400/night suite for the duration of the conference, which was a bonus. Roll on CIB 2009!
If you have interpretation available, you can download the conference presentations (.ppt format) or watch short video interviews with the presenters.