Monday, April 16, 2018

AppSec-Eu 2018 - communication to the community

Dear OWASP community,

The OWASP Foundation board of directors has come to the understanding that previous information that was shared about the move of OWASP AppSec-Eu from Tel Aviv to London has not been received as being open and transparent enough.

As  mentioned in previous communications, we do recognize the communication has not been optimal and we are working hard to improve this. Nevertheless, the community has clearly articulated your desire to have more background information and the reasoning behind the move of the venue.

As we believe truly in the "O" of OWASP, I will hereby share more information about the justification for the move of AppSec-Eu away from Tel Aviv.

As with any foundation, OWASP needs to maintain sound financial health to empower our members and to achieve our mission goals. We do have many expenses and our financials are publicly available.

The OWASP Foundation's financial health does heavily lean on the two major annual conferences: AppSec-Eu and AppSec-US. In 2017, both conferences failed on meet financial goals, the first ending up negative and the latter making much less than expected. This was not due to any person or group, but was just a fact of what happened. The teams that put on these conferences did a fantastic job.

With this background, our new Executive Director did look into the proceedings of the upcoming global conference, AppSec-Eu, in Tel Aviv. Her analysis revealed several risk factors with this location that were cause for concern that the conference could have difficulties generating the required profit. This, on top of the the problems the Foundation experienced in 2017, discussed above, would put OWASP at too much financial risk.

Some factors that lead to the decision to move were:
  • The Israel chapter was planning to continue with its annual and very successful free AppSec-Il conference, potentially competing with AppSec EU.
  • The budget planning was estimating that 80% of the attendees to come from outside of Israel, in contrast to previous conferences, which  roughly 50% of the attendees where from the local community. We would lose the grass roots attendees.
  • Some global OWASP sponsors indicated an unwillingness to sponsor a conference in Israel, citing a poor ROI of sponsoring in that area.
  • There have been many discussions with the Israel chapter about the above issues. Their responses indicated that they did not have the statistics that would counter any of the above risks, as they have never organized a paid conference in Israel.
  • Some of the above is based on assumptions, as always when you are trying to predict the future.
  • Some points might have been negotiable, but seen the time-frame we just did not have the time
With the above considerations, and the financial problems with OWASP now, our ED felt that the only responsible course of action to guarantee the financial health of OWASP was to move the conference.

We hope that everyone understands the reasoning behind this difficult decision. We extend, once again, our sincere thanks to the Israel community for their efforts to date, but also our apologies, and hope of a future event in Israel. We also again apologize for not explaining all of this earlier. It would most certainly have avoided some of the frustration and disappointment that some community members have experienced.

On behalf of the OWASP Board of directors,
  Martin Knobloch
OWASP Chairman of the BOD

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