Horse Convention Hits Up Fandom For Cold Hard Cash to Ensure Its Survival by

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The one in the middle just saw the convention’s bank account.
(Editor's note: This article is an op-ed from a source that divulged this information to us on a condition of anonymity)

By now, we’ve all come to realize that the Golden Era of Pony is long behind us. The community’s interest in the fandom (and the show) has been slowly dwindling down for years, and we’re settling into a quieter long-term existence like the fandoms before us. In the beginning, bronies would travel halfway across the planet to attend a convention, but you can only hit up so many conventions before you run out of new things to do, new show staff and community guests to meet, and most importantly, the money to get there. With less money in play, the dozens of conventions that once peppered the globe are approaching the single digits, and many conventions have already held their last events ever.
Some people, though, just can’t let go.

Meet the leadership of Ponycon, once known as PoNYCon after their location in the greater New York City area, then renamed after they figured out the rent there was too damn high. They moved to a cheaper home, a place just across the river where any once-great thing goes to die (New Jersey) but even then, they can’t seem to keep the lights on.




According to their fundraiser, launched immediately after the conclusion of their 2017 convention last weekend, they ran this year’s event in the red, and they admit that in order to keep the convention running in future years, they’ll “need to adapt to survive”.


How are they planning on adapting? Budgeting more smartly? Adjusting their projections for attendance and scaling down guests accordingly? Pursuing cheaper venues?


Nope, they’re just hitting the fandom up for $35,000 in cold, hard, no-strings-attached cash.


Yeah, you heard right. This isn’t the typical crowdfunding you see for many prospective conventions, where the con uses a platform like Kickstarter to gauge interest in the con, sell registration and VIP-level tickets, and only ding everyone’s wallets if the entire event goes over successfully. This is, literally, a fundraiser to hand the runners of Ponycon $35,000 in exchange for nothing--no registration, no backstage passes, no VIP perks, nothing. Your money is going into a black hole that promises to give you another convention (that you’ll have to pay for again as a con-goer)...one last horrah before they close the doors. Maybe.


To allow this kind of fundraiser at all, the convention staff chose a very unconventional venue: YouCaring. The platform advertises itself as the home of “compassionate crowdfunding”, supporting causes from funeral expenses to cancer treatment and other humanitarian causes. Right alongside these stories of personal suffering and financial plight you will now find Ponycon’s fundraiser. There’s no doubt that it’s out of place, but the reason becomes clear once you look at YouCaring’s terms: money is donated with no fees added (except the payment processor), and all funds are directly added to the recipient’s PayPal/WePay/etc account at the moment of donation, not at the end of some stated time period or when the goal is reached.


Just to be clear, that means that, as of this writing, the Ponycon team is already walking away with almost $4,300 in their wallets, but because their overall goal hasn’t been reached, they can throw their hands up, say next year just won’t happen, and walk away having been bailed out for nothing at all.


The staff at Ponycon are heavily pushing this fundraiser under the hashtag “#SavePonycon”, as if it were an ‘80s movie where some angry trust fund kid threatens to buy out the ski resort and close it down. They’re tugging hard at your heartstrings, acting like some ominous external force is threatening Ponycon’s existence, when really the only threat is the same existential threat facing every Brony con that exists today. Well, that and the poor marketing and bookkeeping of the con itself.


You damn kids may be too new to this fandom to remember it, but there was once a time that we had to hold a fundraiser to “rescue” a convention. It was called Las Pegasus Unicon (an Earthly Adventure!) and it tanked so catastrophically that it scared (almost) everyone away from doing a convention in Vegas for the next 4 whole years. The fundraiser that happened immediately in its wake was called “LasPegassist”. Even then, though, the fandom wasn’t tasked with righting the sinking ship that was the con’s own finances. The sole objective of the fundraiser was to un-screw the show staff who hadn’t been paid for their time and travel expenses, in the (legitimate) fear that if this problem went unsolved, Hasbro/DHX would never step foot on convention soil again.


Let’s assume no such world-ending crisis exists in this case, because I think they would’ve mentioned it in that fundraiser if it did. That leaves us with a much shadier scenario: nothing is at stake here except the prospect of a convention that hasn’t happened yet, and could just as well not happen, and ta-da, crisis averted. Instead, the convention staff are betting that enough Bronies will so desperately want to fight the passage of time that they’ll throw their money into a black hole on the promise that maybe the good days can continue just a little longer.


Guys, as a fandom you’ve been hit up for money so many times now I don’t even have to tell you how this goes. Critical thinking is key. There are other conventions, and there will never not be opportunities for you to meet your horse friends.

But hey, while you’re over on YouCaring, there are a lot of really genuinely hurting people who could use that money instead. Help them bury their loved ones or fight off a deadly disease, and then drive a little farther for your next pony convention.

Comments (19)

  1. "as if it were an ‘80s movie where some angry trust fund kid threatens to buy out the ski resort and close it down"

    Don't ever question the magic of The Mountain.

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  2. This is probably one of the best HN posts I've ever read. I never realized that donors are basically getting nothing in return, and that this is actually slightly *different* than the aftermath of Las Pegasus. The bit of encouragement at the end to do good and give that money to someone who actually needs it was awesome to read as well.

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    1. Right, because the people who run the con don't have to eat, or pay for rent, or get on with their lives or anything... Right?

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    2. If you can't afford a con, then don't run a con. They're more than capable of feeding themselves if they don't make financially unsound decisions. It's quite simple.

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    3. Maybe it would be a good idea to lend them your time machine

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  3. If they'd had the foresight to offer donors a stickersheet, lollipop and colouring book they would have met their goal by now

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  4. Well that's one con I can scratch off of going to.

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  5. I'm getting the impression that you guys didn't watch the entire video, or maybe you had it on in the background while you were doing something else?
    "How are they planning on adapting? Budgeting more smartly? Adjusting their projections for attendance and scaling down guests accordingly? Pursuing cheaper venues?"
    They started off by saying that this is exactly what they plan on doing, but in order to put the event on, they had to go $35,000 into personal debt because the ticket sales didn't match up with the expenses.
    This fundraiser isn't there in order to run the next convention, it's there to help these people who tried a business venture and failed and they're asking for help from the community. They did promise however that if they reach their funding goal they will run the con next year by doing all of the things you listed above.

    "Just to be clear, that means that, as of this writing, the Ponycon team is already walking away with almost $4,300 in their wallets, but because their overall goal hasn’t been reached"
    Just to be clear: 35,000 - 4300 = -30,700

    "The staff at Ponycon are heavily pushing this fundraiser under the hashtag “#SavePonycon”"
    They put out three tweets about it... If that's a "heavy push" then I think you should try being around social media before speaking so vapidly about it.

    "Even then, though, the fandom wasn’t tasked with righting the sinking ship that was the con’s own finances. The sole objective of the fundraiser was to un-screw the show staff who hadn’t been paid for their time and travel expenses"
    That's literally what this is. That's exactly how they explained it in the video. I encourage you to watch it again because I don't think you understood what it was actually about.

    "...I think they would’ve mentioned it in that fundraiser if it did..."
    That was the entire point of the video. You guys honestly couldn't get this any more wrong than you did.

    "But hey, while you’re over on YouCaring, there are a lot of really genuinely hurting people who could use that money instead."
    I'm really happy to hear that for you guys at Horse News, $35,000 of debt is really easy to write off and simply pay for yourselves, however I think it's worth considering that not everyone is able to take on a debt like that without serious consequences. It's nice to hear that you're that well off though.

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    1. The owners got into debt due to their own bad decisions and expectations, why should the fandom have to bail out yet another poorly managed event?

      The fact this is solely to cover their own debt and doesn't include anything like tickets or other perks is incredible.

      Dont support shadiness, let this one go.

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    2. Did you go to it?

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    3. That's the beauty of asking help. You DON'T have to bail them out. They're asking for help, there is no obligation from the fandom to bail them out. I would disagree about the event being mismanaged. They prepared for a potential 50% drop in attendance, that's incredibly conservative. The fact that they're ONLY $35,000 in debt is incredible to say the least.
      As for the perk thing, that's unfortunately one of the attributes of YouCaring. They're not allowed to offer that sort of thing. It's a donation website. They're on a platform that is designed to do exactly what they're using it for.

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    4. I'd disagree with calling it "shady". I think they're being as up front and honest about this as they possibly could be. What could they be hiding that they haven't already said? The numbers add up, the facts line up, and they've told us more about the convention running business than I think I've ever heard before as far as the behind the scenes stuff goes. I don't know how that could be considered "shady".

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    5. I have seriously mixed feelings concerning them asking for the cash.

      Here's a short story. A certain west coast ponycon ended their 2015 year nearly $20,000 in the hole. By the conclusion of paying for their 2016 event they were up nearly $10,000. And here's a funny thing, their attendee count was hundreds less than they budgeted for at the start. How is this sorcery possible?! Simple. The people in charge trimmed as much as they possibly could without seriously impacting the attendee experience. They also updated their operating budget as predicted funds changed and only approved optional expenses (such as pricey guests of honor) as the funds were available.

      To me, the current situation at Ponycon sounds like they couldn't keep their expenses inline with available data. Running a fan convention at the level of the Chairs is a form of poker. It's all about money management while keeping your face in front of an uncaring public. They played their dealt cards poorly as a 15% decrease over the initial prediction (baring this decrease completely happening with at-the-door-sales) should've been foreseen as the convention cycle occurred. Once they noticed sluggish badge sales they should've tightened their expenses. Yeah, it sucks going from a high end, multi-guest, fan con extravaganza to a more local con, but egos should've been checked at the door. And if their debt wasn't due to ego, they need to find better people to manage their funds and give them power to veto anything that'd push them over budget.

      With that being said, I can still feel for 'em. They wanted to put on a great con for their attendees. However, that great con is now costing them $35,000 and the con itself.

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    6. That's exactly what they're saying they're planning on doing though. I don't think you understand how far out these contracts get signed. Yes the ticket sales were lower than expected, but as an event runner you don't have a good idea about the sales numbers until about a month away from the event.
      You have to sign on the hotel about eight to nine months in advance. You can't just say "oh hey actually we'll pay 20,000 less than we promised because we have to scale back"
      Contracts are contracts. Same goes for the show staff. Everything is signed way in advance, you can't scale something back like that at the last minute.

      That's why they concluded the video by saying that if they get a chance to run the event again they'll scale back the costs the exact same way that the convention you're talking about did. If that con had lost 65% of its attendees from one year to the next without any concrete reason for it, they probably would have ended up in the same spot. 65% is a massive amount, you can't simply plan for that when you're starting out and signing contracts and whatnot. It just doesn't work that way.

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    7. I may sound like a moron, but the idea I tend to feel is that a convention is supposed to start off small and once certain numbers of tickets are sold then maybe try to expand the guest roster. From what I'm looking at on the ponycons spreadsheet, apparently they flubbed 2016 by increasing the number of guests from 7 to roughly 18 or so. That sort of expense is probably something that if it didn't happen may of significantly reduced their debt for this year. I'm not saying to get people at the last minute and I'm sure certain contracts cost more depending on how soon they are planned but I do see a convention or two that can bring on a guest within 3 months before the convention starts.

      I think for the tl;dr version. Foresight is something bronies are not capable of. Just about everything I see is done on a whim, and I feel despite my ignorance conventions are no exception.

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    8. Hotel contracts are usually signed about six months to nine months in advance. You can't simply scale it up, you have to have an idea of the size right when you're starting off. Hotels aren't that flexible unfortunately. They have a job to sell the space and they don't want to take a gamble.
      As for the guests, they're the ones who bring the attendance in the first place. You don't have a good idea of what the attendance will be until about a month out. If you haven't signed on any large guests by that point, people are likely not going to come to it because it's too short notice.

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  6. >TFW you were at Ground Zero for LPU and saw the flames first-hand

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  7. Rhetoric, uh, there are at least likr 15 pony cons going ahead this year confirmed.

    I know that's a lot smaller than the previous year's list, but they tend to only announce them a few months in advance, I think. So there are more on the way.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1smBLl_b-QLSrsiM-O9EMkXaXHHSTe2HwngGUh5GB3Xg/edit#gid=0

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  8. purple tranny
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    don't ask about seabronies and their multiple patreons
    o

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