One of the interesting aspects of being an independent consultant is having other companies think TaoSecurity exists as a mighty corporate entity with plenty of cash to spend. This has exposed me to some of the seedier aspects of corporate life, namely "speaker-sponsorship." Have you ever attended a keynote address, or other talk at a conference, and wondered how such a person could ever have been accepted to speak? There's a good chance that person paid for the slot.
Two instances of this come to mind. First, several months ago I was contacted by the producer of a television program to appear on their show. The program was hosted by Terry Bradshaw (no kidding) and was looking for speakers to discuss the state of the digital security market. This sounded like it was almost too good to be true, and guess what -- it was. A few minutes into the conversation with the producer I learned that TaoSecurity would be expected to pay a $15,000 sponsorship fee to "defray costs" for Mr. Bradshaw, and other expenses. Essentially I would be buying a spot on the show, but it would be a "fabulous marketing experience." I said forget it.
Second, I just received a call from someone organizing a "security event." This person was looking for "experts" on PCI and other topics for briefings in September. I told him I was not available at the specified time, so he asked to be switched to the TaoSecurity marketing department since what he really wanted was "speaker-sponsors." In other words, people speaking at this event will have paid for their slots. Again, I said forget it.
Keep these thoughts in mind the next time you see a lame talk at a security conference by a marketing person.