Pre-Imagine — a Brief History

I kind of forget sometimes that everyone hasn’t been here forever. A sign of a great ecosystem is one that is constantly refreshing, and luckily Magento certainly has this. So it dawned on me that not all of you know the history of PreImagine. So here it is (well my own distorted view, Im usually drunk at each one!).

PreImagine was actually first PreInnovate

Back at the first Magento Imagine, 2011 in Los Angeles, there was no PreImagine, we hadnt been born. It was when we all met in October of 2011 at the eBay Innovate event in San Francisco that a few of the community decided ad-hoc to get together for dinner. Why were we a community? Well we had ‘bonded’ at the first Imagine, so meeting again was like meeting old friends!

As I recall there were < 20 of us at this dinner, maybe even 10 of us, hard to remember. I remember Rhonda who was the community manager of Magento was involved, and Kimberley Thomas (who was then a freelance developer, and now works for Magento ECG). I believe it was at this dinner (or maybe as a consequence) that we decided to run an event in the hotel bar just for the Magento people. Innovate was a massive event, and we just wanted to get together the ‘Magento community’ for drinks.

Talk about organisation!

My memories are this:

  • A few of us put money behind the bar so that the drinks would be paid for upto a point, anything from 500–1000 bucks each
  • The Classy Llama team were very tall
  • We never had enough drinks tickets so we extended the pot
Innovate 2011 — Roy Rubin with Bob and Interactiv4 guys (Credit: Magento)
  • Kimberely was unbelievable in pulling everything together literally in hours
  • The amount of people that signed up was way over what we anticipated, we totally filled the roped off bar section out and some (over 120 people)

2012 — The First PreImagine

Kevin from BlueAcorn is hereby officially recognised as the guy to call it PreImagine. It was held by the pool in the M Resort. We have tried to hold PreImagine outside ever since.

My memories of this are still very vivid, it was when we realised Magento was so much more than just a platform, it was a family.

Sherrie & Bob with Kimberely in the background (credit: Magento)
PreImagine 2012 — See the later pics in 2017 to see how much it has grown!! (Credit: Magento)


Kimberely was the main organizer from 2012–2016, and did an amazing job with the event. The principle remained the same, ask the community to sponsor it, get enough to pay for drinks etc, keep it simple, have fun.


In 2017 Kimberley was now working at Magento Inc, and as such it was decided by her/Magento to find a new main organizer in order to keep the event within the community. Kimberely emailed a couple of the original people involved at that dinner and after a quick discussion between myself and Kevin from Blue Acorn it was decided that my team (WebShopApps/ShipperHQ) would take over organisation.

2017 PreImagine (Credit: Magento)

My PA Jane was instrumental in its success in 2017, we grew to over 400 attendees, even having to overflow to inside due to fire restrictions on the patio area!

And so to Today

We are running PreImagine this year in the XS Nightclub at the Wynn. Well actually its going to be outside by the pool. 500 people are due to attend, by far our largest PreImagine ever.

The principles are still exactly the same as in 2011 and I think PreImagine is all the better for it. We get sponsors using a list from previous years to ensure that long standing community members get first visibility, then roll out from there to bring in new sponsors. This gives us an element of old and new, which I think is great. We don’t over-bake the event, once we have enough money we stop getting sponsors,we try to still keep it simple in essence, IMO this event should be somewhat raw, transparent, about community and about getting as many different people together as possible.

Trust me though behind the scenes there is a lot of work to make this happen, we have had staff working on this since before Christmas.

Our goal, well its to provide a place where you can relax and socialise. That’s it.

What’s it like at PreImagine

Someone at work asked me to sum up what PreImagine was like. My view is that it is a great big melting pot of people, where old friends meet again, sometimes for the first time in a year, virtual friends meet for the first time, newcomers arrive nervous and (I hope) leave with a new set of friends. Its where some of you see people that were just names before and discover they are totally different to that twitter image. Its where job roles are put aside for a couple of hours and the devs will mix with the business, the sales guys will stop pitching (well actually no they will probably still pitch), and Ben Marks will get bombarded with fans trying to say hallo :) I’m not actually sure the last does happen but there is a good bet.

What Happens after PreImagine

Usually after PreImagine people will go off for food in smaller groups. Last year a lot of people went for burgers across the road from the Wynn. Strange as it seems Sunday night is a good time to catch up with people and just relax a bit before the main event starts so I recommend take the opportunity, but remember you have big parties Monday and Tuesday night so don’t go too crazy!

And Lastly — Thank You

PreImagine wouldn’t be here without the support of our sponsors, Magento Inc, or without the support and enthusiasm of the Magento community. Please go see the sponsors and have a chat, they don’t need to sponsor and I think its the least we can do in order to ensure PreImagine continues for years to come. A special thanks goes to Magento for their continued sponsorship & assistance/support, I believe it is testament to the power of Magento that even though there has been much change PreImagine has remained stable.

On a personal note I’d like to thank Kevin from Blue Acorn. Many of you are probably unaware but his influence and support for PreImagine over the years has been significant, I count him as one of the ‘elders’ within the community that provides a steady calm hand.

On what will be our 7th PreImagine and 8th global community-run event as someone who has seen them all I want to say thank you for being there, thank you for your support of the Magento ecosystem and I really feel we are as true today as we were back in 2011. We may disagree at times, we may have changed jobs, but we are always a community.

See you in Vegas Sunday!!!!

Great Video from the Guys at Imagination Media

CEO ShipperHQ/WebShopApps