It has been an amazing few days.
My Magento Imagine eCommerce Conference kick-off - actually started on Sunday morning when Roy, Yoav and Bob invited our International Community Leaders and myself to a Community Leaders breakfast at Loews Restaurant in Santa Monica. We dined on the patio, which had a gorgeous view of the beach and the Santa Monica Pier. The topic of discussion community, Magento and of course, the Imagine Conference. Community leaders got a sneak peek of the program guide -- and there were smiles all around as we enjoyed a breakfast buffet while getting to know each other.
In attendance (Starting with Roy Rubin moving clockwise) Roy Rubin(CEO Magento), Bob Schwartz (Vice President Magento), Yoav Kuntner (CTO Magento), Susie Sedlacek (Training and Documentation - Magento) Guido Jansen - (Ductchento, The Netherlands), Philippe Humeau - (Bargento, France), Brent W. Peterson - (Us Forum Moderator), Gabriel Bouhatous (Bargento, France) Nick Weisser - (Swissgento, Switzerland) Not pictured: Rhonda Rondeau - (Community Manager, Magento) and Rico Neitzel (Meet Magento, Germany)
After breakfast, we hopped in our Magento sponsored 12-seater van, and headed back to the Hilton, to retrieve Rico who had sadly missed his connecting flight after entering the country. The minute we hit the hotel, I was already meeting Magento folks, and chatting up a storm with soon-to-be event-goers. Even on Sunday morning the hotel was buzzing with talk of Imagine and what great things were going to happen at this first conference, or what new things might be announced. Once assembled, it was time to take off and go have some fun. We were even joined by a few others that I had not met yet, but as I always say -- the more the merrier.
Back in the Van, we headed to the Getty Museum. The Getty Center is famous for its beautiful architecture as well as well known art pieces that it houses. There are usually some kind of special exhibition or event going on to check out. This time, Imagining the Past in France, 1250–1500 was on display, which I felt was ironic considering we had several guests in attendance from France. The Getty has some of the most amazing views.
Community Towering over me at the Getty
Since our friend Rico missed Breakfast - I promised him lunch on the beach and that's exactly where we went next, and what a better place to go then Venice? Street performers, skate boarders, sand and sun! We had a great time hopping along the beach and checking out the sites, and yes we had lunch on the beach! Not just any lunch, but pizza and hot-dogs! We spent a great deal of time watching the amazing skate-boarders and just getting to know each other.
Community at the Skate Park in Venice
Some of us parted ways at Venice, and some went back to the hotel. I had to go, as there was still a lot to do before the Imagine Conference! I know the party continued into the night as I watched tweets from 3rd street Promenade in Santa Monica.
Monday night was the kick-off party. I was lucky enough to arrive several hours early and finally able to meet Sherrie Rohde - our US design forum moderator and Magento M finger enthusiast! Throughout our flickr gallery of amature photography, you will see her posing with a number of folks, making the Magento M that she's now made famous!
Throughout the flickr stream of photo's we've uploaded -- it might look something like the Rhonda, Sherrie and Rico show. The three of us took more pictures than I can count with various employees, and new Imagine Conference friends. We pretty much stuck together throughout and I couldn't have asked for a more memorable experience.
In this next photo, I'd like to formally introduce you to Sherrie Rohde and Brent W. Peterson. I cannot say enough wonderful things about them. They were here before I came on-board at Magento and they're dedicating their time as volunteers of our US Community Forums. Sherrie wrote our online design guide and handles the Html/CSS/Design forum while Brent consistently works on everything else. He answers questions on our boards, and has been recently being very active with @ask_magento I don't know what I'd do without them! This picture was taken at our Imagine Conference kick-off party.
Some of our photos were downright silly, which is the sign of having a really good time! In this photo, we have Guido Jansen from Dutchento who came all the way from the Netherlands. Guido has been a huge asset to me since joining the Magento team and now, a very good friend. He taught me many things about Magento when I first came on board, which was just awesome, as a new employee just learning the ropes.
After the amazing conference, breakout sessions and parties -- we were tired! But... I wanted one last night with the folks who could join me, so this time it was our German Community! We quickly stopped by happy hour before we headed off to our next adventure! Joined by Rico Neitzel, Daimen Luszczymak, Imagine Conference speaker Vinai Kopp, and of course Sherrie and Brent -- it was off to Manhattan Beach for pizza. We found the tiny little place, looked funny, and according to Rico -- smelled funny too! It did, however have some really great pizza and the company? OUTSTANDING! I think we laughed for almost 2 hours straight. As you can see from my face in these photos - it is bright red. That's a sign of me laughing so hard that it was hard to breathe! We had pizza, we skipped along the pier arm in arm (literally), we posed in that famous Magento M fashion!
I cannot thank Roy, Yoav and Bob enough for bringing us all together. The Imagine Conference has just been an amazing experience. There are not enough happy adjectives to describe how I feel. I met so many amazing people, amazing companies, and made many new friends. This has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I can see it's only going to get better!
I'm looking forward to future events and working with our awesome Community! Thanks to everyone for making this event so memorable. Check out our flickr stream and stay tuned for the professional photos which will be coming soon.