by Brian Solis

TechCrunch and Jason Calacanis officially announced the TechCrunch50 conference to be held in San Francisco in September 2008. The second-annual event has grown to feature 50 companies, up from the original 20 (which became 40) last year.

TechCrunch50 will feature a new format and a new venue. It will now be a three day conference to accommodate the ten additional startup launches, as well as more panels and workshops. Last year, the event was held at the Palace in San Francisco. This time around, it will move to the San Francisco Design Center which can accomodate over 1,000 attendees (good, no floor seats this time!).

Buy tickets to attend here.

Apply to launch your startup or new product here (early consideration deadline is June 13 final deadline is June 27).

So, with that said, one of the more unnoticed or less discussed aspects of the conference is that it falls exactly on the same dates as DEMOfall 2008.

There’s certainly no secrets with Michael Arrington and Jason Calacanis when they discuss their views on DEMO. They want to reign supreme with a more startup-friendly conference that lets emerging companies present their product in front of a tremendously influential crowd of VCs, partners, media, and bloggers, for free. Whereas with DEMO, companies (consisting of startups and established leaders) pay a fee once they’re invited to present to a very highly regarded audience consisting of similar demographics, but also including enterprise technology and solutions customers.

We saw shots fired across DEMO’s bow when Arrington and Calacanis originally announced TechCrunch20 during DEMO 07. Since then, there has been a perceived one-sided battle, with the DEMO organization focusing on differentiation. Let’s remember that DEMO has around for 18 years and has built a very strong community around the brand and the event. TechCrunch is also building a strong and supported brand.

Last year however, TechCrunch and DEMO did not overlap. And, one company if you remember, was politely expelled from DEMO because they (mEgo) debuted their product at TechCrunch40 prior to DEMOFall 07, which violated the cardinal rule – you must break your news at DEMO.

I still believe that both events offer value in their own right and will continue to grow concurrently.

I should also point out, especially to bloggers and PR people, that roughly 125 hot new products will launch in that one week between the two conferences. I hope you can keep up!


Michael Arrington shares his thoughts with Daniel Terdiman of CNET. Although, in the interview Arrington maintained that their selection of September 8-10, 2008, as the dates for TechCrunch 50 was about the availability of an affordable San Francisco venue:

Demo needs to die. It’s just an old-school model…It clearly involves pay to play, and what we’re offering is better.

Chris Shipley responds:
No company has EVER paid a cent to DEMO to participate in the DEMO screening process. No company has EVER been asked about their ability to pay a demonstrator fee prior to our invitation. And very often, the DEMO organization and I actively work to support an invited company’s fund raising efforts, not just so they can pay the fee, but so that their good ideas can be viable as a business. And in many cases, over the years, we’ve found sponsorship support (money we could have kept in the DEMO coffers) to reduce or comp invited companies.

In its nearly 19 years, DEMO has helped companies raise hundreds of millions in venture. We’ve connected companies with customers. We’ve help them reach millions through our media support programs.

We have a business model. So does TechCrunch. One does not make the other wrong or “evil” as some have suggested. And most certainly, one doesn’t make the other a philanthropist.

You and some others don’t like our business model. I get it. But over the years, DEMO has helped literally thousands of companies take their product to market. Most of them, presumably, found tremendous value in the venue and its support for their product launches. If not, our business model doesn’t work.

I have always said that the TC event provides a different option and that it will be the right choice for some very early companies. They should and can coexist, just as Mercedes and Honda or Nordstroms and Ross Dress for Less co-exist.

Update 2: The conversations continue. The latest is at Silicon Alley Insider.

Also make sure to read Stowe Boyd’s thoughtful take on the subject.

To think otherwise is silly.

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About the Author:

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

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    no imageTony Snow (Who am I?)2 April 2008 4:51 pm

    You gotta wonder if the venture capitalists sponsoring TC50 are aware of this, and if they really want to screw with Demo this way. I suspect not.

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