Novell axes BrainShare

Novell Inc. has alerted customers and partners that it is cancelling its annual BrainShare conference, which was to have been held in Salt Lake City in March, due to would-be attendees’ restricted travel budgets.

Novell has held the event annually for more than 20 years, according to John Dragoon, the company’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, whose letter to customers and partners we’ve included below.

Dragoon wrote that “many of you have indicated that because of the current economic climate, you are under increasing pressure to reduce travel and other controllable expenses and are hesitant to commit to attending our BrainShare 2009 conference.” He pledged that Novell will seek other means to provide continued education and support to customers and partners. The tough economy hasn’t helped Novell’s financial numbers of late either. The company continues to lose money, reporting earlier this month a $16 million loss for its fourth fiscal quarter on roughly flat revenue. For the fiscal year, ended Oct. 31, Novell lost about $18 million on revenue of just under $1 billion. Making apples-to-apples comparisons of Novell financial results quarter to quarter has become next to impossible given a variety of “impairment charges” and other clarifications included in its reports.

Novell’s most recent product news has included the shipment of its GroupWise 8 messaging and calendaring platform and a game plan for getting Red Hat Linux customers to give Novell’s SUSE Linux a whirl.

It’s already been a tough week for trade shows. Apple announced yesterday that this January’s Macworld would be its last and that Steve Jobs would not be delivering a keynote speech there.

Dragoon’s letter to Novell customers and partners

Dear Novell Customers and Partners,

This note is to inform you that Novell will not be holding its annual BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City, Utah that was scheduled for March 2009.

As many of you know, Novell has held BrainShare for more than 20 years, and it is a tradition we are proud of. I also know that our customers and partners always look forward to this conference. Despite this, many of you have indicated that because of the current economic climate, you are under increasing pressure to reduce travel and other controllable expenses and are hesitant to commit to attending our BrainShare 2009 conference. BrainShare exists for only one reason: to educate and enable our customers and partners around our technology. Let me be clear, though: just because we are not holding the in-person BrainShare conference, does not mean that we will not provide the important information and training you are counting on.

Over the coming months, we will continue to focus on building the high-quality training and enablement offerings you have come to expect from us. We will do this through online classes, virtual conferences and local tours. These new approaches will allow everyone to participate in our education and training — without incurring the high cost of travel that, at least for now, is an issue for many of you.

We understand the cost constraints you are facing in the current economic environment and we will continue to commit ourselves to making sure we deliver the information, training and other deliverables you need. We will be providing all this in a way that allows you to avoid the short-term travel expense of the traditional, in-person BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City. We will announce the specific schedule of events and any online, “on-demand” activities in January.

Thank you for your continued support and confidence.

John Dragoon Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

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