Dear EventBrite and Lanyrd: WTF?

Between the Over the Air hack day, events associated with the W3C TAG and various other things, I count myself as a sometimes event organizer. I’ve been a user and a big fan of Lanyrd since it first started out because it does exactly what I need it to do: it provides tools for event organizers like me to take the burden off. For Over the Air, for example, I can built the entire schedule of the event in Lanyrd and embed that schedule on our own web site. Speakers who I program into the schedule can edit their own session pages and they benefit from a network effect since other events they are speaking at are also displayed. When I’m running an unconference such as the Extensible Web Summit I can use Lanyrd to build the schedule on the fly as the event progresses.

But now Lanyrd is dying on the vine. It’s really really sad to see it go like this. Not only is it suffering from a lack of new and important features — to name a few: https support, off-line support, geolocation, integration of more services, better Twitter integration, Slack integration, support for some kind of event back-channel, live streaming integration, even deeper EventBrite support (which you think would be high on their list). It needs a design refresh as well — although the responsive design still works OK.

Then there’s the issue of reliability. Lanyrd has been going down more often this year. In general, when Lanyrd goes down, it goes down during European business hours and stays down until morning breaks in Silicon Valley. Because why would anything need to be up and running when Silicon Valley is asleep, right? When I was running an Extensible Web Summit in Berlin last year it was down for the whole event, leaving us scrambling with etherpads, wikis and IRC to come up with an alternative. Last week, after such an extended outage, I asked one of the founders:

The silence was deafening. Of course, it’s not their fault. If anyone could be blamed, it’s most likely the EventBrite management team who just seem unwilling to put any energy into it.

Thankfully Lanyrd did stay up during last week’s Over the Air event, which was lucky because we were relying on it. Now, post event, it’s down again, with no indication of up time. And just at the moment when I asked our speakers to go into their session pages and update them with links to their session slides. And my bet is it will stay down until this evening.

At an event earlier this year, when I announced we were going to use Lanyrd for schedule organization, someone quipped “Oh! Someone still uses Lanyrd?” Unfortunately it has come to this. Although it doesn’t have any obvious replacement, people are no longer using the service due to the obvious lack of investment and reliability issues. I hope EventBrite management will wake up and realize they need to put some investment into this property, that they will understand the value that comes from such a truly social conference application. My guess is they won’t, though, and Lanyrd will be remembered along with Upcoming as a promising service that didn’t survive the acquihire of the team that built it.

Personally, I’m done. Unless I see some evidence of investment in this important property, I’m not going to rely on it again for any event that I’m involved with. For that matter, I’m moving off of EventBrite, which was always too heavy-weight for the kinds of (mostly free) events that I organize anyway. Many people have suggested Tito as a replacement. Earlier today when I was lamenting on Twitter about Lanyrd’s downtime and the lack of any viable replacement, I received the following:

Sounds promising…