Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Thoughts on CMP Acquisition of Black Hat

I just learned that CMP Media, publishers of IT magazines like Network Computing and IT Architect (formerly Network Magazine) just acquired Jeff Moss' Black Hat, Inc. for $10 million. I'm amazed that Black Hat went for that much. The organization may offer consulting, but it's mainly known for its conferences. Those conferences rely on instructors, none of whom are obligated to speak (as far as I know). Without any intellectual property, substantial workforce, or product lines, I'd say Black Hat did pretty well for itself!

I did not realize until now that CMP also owns the Computer Security Insitutute, who runs their own security conferences. The CSI conference is a strange beast. I wouldn't consider William Safire to be a "security expert," but there he is appearing as a keynote CSI speaker. Perhaps Black Hat is supposed to pull in another sort of demographic, one without as much gray hair?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

On CSI: I've never ever seen any other such collection of poseurs, wannabes, fake experts and just folks who consider tcpdump to be a scanner...

andras said...

I can only hope that CMP does a better job of not destroying something useful and informative, like they did to Byte.

I'm not sure that they will, but here is to hope.

Anonymous said...

Tcpdump is teh suxxx... CSI is also teh suxxx. Black Hat is an overrated, too expensive piece of shit that provides you little value and nothing in return.

Richard Bejtlich said...

To the first Anonymous: I submitted a proposal to provide NSM tutorials at CSI this year, since I'd never attended and the conference was local. They shot me down. Maybe it worked out for the best?

Anonymous said...

From the "first anonymous" to Richard: I am not the least surprised... Even something that they consider to be a "technical presentation" is often given by "con-sultants", who didn't go beyond AOL in their leet technical skills. I've heard that CSI was cutting edge a long time ago - like 20 years :-)

GeeWhiz said...

Jeff Moss has stated that he will retain full control of the operations of Black Hat so the quality of the event will not change but that is usually the first response after a corporate acquisition. This year's Black Hat will probably proceed as previous events. 2007 will likely be the year where any serious changes in management style come to light.

In your point that "[w]ithout any intellectual property, substantial workforce, or product lines, I'd say Black Hat did pretty well for itself..." I wonder if CMP will attempt to exercise / coerce any intellectual property rights over content presented at Black Hat Briefings or the materials the various personnel use in their training. Black Hat has benefitted from a decentralized, laissez-faire nature. If it becomes more proprietary, it would change the nature of the event.

Anonymous said...

CSI is a boring marketing crapfest. I give Black Hat 2 years at the outside and CMP will turn it into a joke just like CSI. I doubt very much that Jeff will be able to maintain much independence. Incidents like Ciscogate certainly won't ever happen again with CMP at the helm.

blackhat said...

Doesn't look like they`ve done much to it either besides try to monetize it a bit more. You`d think after they spent 10 million on it they could afford a decent web designer.