A Developer Conference Featuring High-Profile Tech Leaders Was Just Canceled Amid a Bizarre, AI-Induced Scandal: 'Never Seen Anything Like This' One influencer's deep dive unearthed a shocking pattern of deception.

By Amanda Breen

Key Takeaways

  • DevTernity, an online developers conference, was canceled following the withdrawal of high-profile speakers after allegations of fake female speaker profiles surfaced.
  • Tech industry leaders including Scott Hanselman of Microsoft pulled out of the conference, leading to its eventual cancellation by organizer Eduards Sizovs.
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The tech community was rattled this week as DevTernity, a virtual developers conference, faced abrupt cancellation amid controversy.

The event, which was scheduled to take place online from December 7-8 and charged attendees up to $870 for admission, was called off following accusations that the organizer Eduards Sizovs had created fictitious female speaker profiles and nearly half of its 23 speakers withdrew, Bloomberg reported.

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The issue came to light after tech industry influencer Gergely Orosz, known for his widely-read newsletter The Pragmatic Engineer, raised alarms on social media about possible fabricated profiles on the conference's speaker list — and alleged the conference's past and future events also touted fake speakers. Additionally, women who had declined or withdrawn from speaking at DevTernity had not been removed from the promotional materials.

In 2022, the conference drew visitors from 52 countries, doubling the attendee count year over year to 1,300, Sizovs wrote on Instagram last year.

Major figures in software development, such as Microsoft Corp.'s Scott Hanselman and Kelsey Hightower, formerly of Google, announced their withdrawal from DevTernity on Monday amid the growing controversy, per Bloomberg. Kristine Howard from Amazon Web Services, who would have been the only woman left speaking at the conference, also stepped down.

"What a strange tale," David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of the application framework Ruby on Rails, posted on X, formerly Twitter. "Never seen anything like this in decades of speaking at conferences. I'm out."

Related: Staging the Anti-Conference That Will Pull in Young Entrepreneurs

Conference organizer Eduards Sizovs confirmed the cancellation, attributing the turmoil to deliberate sabotage in an emailed statement to the outlet, though he previously admitted to "auto-generating" a fake woman's profile as a placeholder after a speaker dropped out, a move that he later retracted.

"I did nothing terrible that I need to apologize for," Sizovs wrote on X. "The conference has always delivered on its promise. It's an awesome, inclusive, event."

AI's rapid application across a range of industries isn't without its challenges — and questionable ethics. The DevTernity incident isn't even the first faux profile debacle to make headlines this week: Sports Illustrated was caught publishing fake AI-generated author biographies and articles, which the outlet deleted upon further questioning, Futurism reported.

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a features writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

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