Conference Organizer May Have Been Making Up ‘Ladies’ to Make His Events Appear More Diverse; May Be Pretending to Be A Female ‘Tech Influencer’

Eduards Sizovs, the organizer of the DevTernity and JDKon tech conferences, is facing criticism for allegedly fabricating the profiles of several women speakers for his events — as well as potentially masquerading as Julia Kirsina, the “tech influencer” also known by the handle Coding Unicorn.

The controversy, first brought to light by engineer Gergely Orosz and reported on 404 Media, claims that individuals like Anna Boyko and Natalie Stadler, listed as DevTernity speakers, do not exist. 

Tech publication The Verge has reached out to Coinbase and was able to confirm that it “is not aware of any Coinbase employees speaking at the conference,” at DevTernity, although it did not confirm whether the speakers named — e.g. Boyko, billed as Coinbase staff engineer and Stadler, a “software craftswoman” — exist and are employed at the company.

Orosz also raised concerns about the authenticity of a certain Alina Prokhoda, billed as Microsoft MVP and a WhatsApp senior engineer, and set to speak at the JDKon 2024 conference, noting that she didn’t seem to exist anywhere online beyond the conference.

Sizovs has posted a long tweet in an attempt to respond to the allegations, repeatedly calling out Orosz for not reaching out to him first before posting about his discovery on social media. In the tweet, Sizovs, who kept referring to the speakers as “ladies,” did not address concerns directly, but he did admit that at least one profile was auto-generated from the website’s beta test — and he opted to keep it live while searching for replacements. 

He defended the decision, minimized it as an error he already fixed, and cited difficulties in securing diverse speakers due to the industry’s limited pool, claiming “There have been 1000s of events chasing the same small sub-group of female speakers.”

However, Sizos completely dodged the issue of whether he was catfishing people at Kirsina. Kirsina has been listed as a speaker at least twice before but has never appeared to speak. Orosz also details the many glaring pieces of evidence that may prove Sizovs is behind the profile on the 404 Media report, including accidentally showing access to Kirsina’s Gmail account, or Instagram photos showing the use of the Eduardsi handle (Sizovs’ X handle) in her coding, and a series of copied social media posts. 

To add to this, The Verge also learned that RISEBA University of Applied Sciences, mentioned in Kirsina’s LinkedIn profile, denies any records of her obtaining a degree. Kirsina currently has an Instagram following of 115K. Her most recent post, from a week ago, has the influencer explaining that she’s not been able to post more regularly as her “life priorities have changed significantly.” 

It’s notable as well that Kirsina does not seem to have posts featuring other people or at events, which is common among influencers. As of this writing, Kirsina has yet to address the allegations, and neither has Sizovs.

The DevTernity conference, which was slated for December 7-8, has announced on its website that it “won’t take place as planned” but gave no reason why, but other (real) speakers have withdrawn their participation.

The JDKon website cannot be reached and appears to have already been taken down.

Information for this story was found via The Verge, 404 Media, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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