Here's a thread, and prepare yourself for it to be a classic Aubrey Middle Way Response.
-Public speaking is work
-Companies and individuals get value from being on stage and/or sponsoring events (this includes the value to individual employees who get to attend / participate)
I have spoken at LWT SF multiple times, and Atlassian has covered my tix.
Advocacy is messy af. For folks who are doing the implementation, they must CONSTANTLY make difficult tradeoffs.
It looks to me like the org is prioritizing giving access to those who 1) don't have a company that could cover and/or 2) don't have financial access to attend b/c distance.
I do know that they could make it MUCH clearer that folks can ask for free tix, and provide more supportive resources to help folks make requests of their employers. I *believe* they're already remedying this.