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Serious Thoughts About PASS


Back when Covid started I guessed that this might be yet another live-or-die challenge for PASS. PASS is heavily dependent on Summit revenue and uses it to fund all the other stuff. Looking at the most recent budget notes (see the PASS blog) there’s a forecasted shortfall of $1.5m and that’s if they hit their attendance targets for the Summit and the sign up goal for PASS Pro. Maybe they can make that up from the more or less $1m in reserves plus a bit of cash on hand plus some more cuts. Maybe there will be an insurance claim for revenue loss that might supplement that, though such claims are typically very slow to process. Maybe attendance will exceed the goal and things will work out.

If they hit the goals in the budget, that provides enough money to get through the fiscal year ending June 2021 (or maybe more, I’m not a finance guy – go look at the revised budget). If they come up short, then deeper cuts will be the least of it, in the worst case PASS might have to file bankruptcy.

I’m writing all of that based on some experience being on the Board quite a while ago, no insider knowledge of what’s going on now, and reading what has been posted to the PASS blog/news and in the Board minutes. If things are better than I think, well, that would be welcome news.

I suspect for many it’s tempting to throw rocks. But now isn’t the time for that. From the day Covid hit I think the Board has tried hard to figure out what to do and when to do it. Deciding to go virtual was hard for a lot of reasons:

  • They had 2020 venue contracts to think about and figure out
  • It would mean a substantial cut to the budget
  • Never done it before, so a huge risk

You can argue about the decisions, the platform, lack of transparency, the implementation, whatever else, but that’s all water under the bridge now. We can post-mortem later. Soon after the Summit completes they should have a really good view of the budget and at that point they can make some decisions, perhaps really tough ones.

I’ve written all of the above to get you to think about the next part.

The Board is dealing with all of this during a time where they are all under stress at home and work. Covid has impacted everyone. More than that though, they fear failing. Wayne Snyder used to tell me something along the lines of “I don’t want PASS to fail on my watch” and I think every Board member feels that obligation. Max stress to be sure.

The other part is our full time staff. Yes, they technically work for C&C, but many of them have been with us for years and all do the work we ask them to do. Imagine what it’s like to see these events, know the challenges, and wonder if you’ll have a job for much longer. Max stress, plus.

Right now there isn’t much you and I can do except recognize that there are a couple of dozen people living with a lot of stress and trying to get PASS back on a solid footing. Next year, after the immediate decisions have been made, we can and should talk about if PASS is all we want it to be, but for now we have to wait and see.

These are our people and they need whatever support and kind words we can muster.

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