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TechCrunch20 Now Live

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While the startup-sphere was all knee-deep in DEMO coverage last January, TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington and Sequoia Capital EIA and Weblogs Inc cofounder Jason Calacanis talked up their plans to launch their conference TechCrunch20. Their idea is to bring together 20 new startups, which are chosen on merit alone, and don’t pay to present — “taking the payola out of DEMO-ing,” as Calacanis put it then.

Arrington tells us today that the site just went live, with more details about the event and the process. They are looking to talk to any startup that will be ready to launch or publicly demo by September 17, when the conference will start in San Francisco. The companies will be chosen by a panel of 20 experts, including GigaNet’s biased favorite Om. Arrington says the conference will charge for attendance and for sponsors, but that sponsors are not eligible to present a new startup.

Does the world need another American Idol-style pitch conference for startups? No, but the Valley does need a conference where the presenting companies don’t have to cross a huge financial hurdle to participate, but do have to cross a threshold of quality. Anyone who’s been to any of these launch conferences knows how unproductive they can be — hopefully TechCrunch20’s new model will be a better one. Good luck.

12 Responses to “TechCrunch20 Now Live”

  1. I wish TechCrunch20 well. Oh, since when did making a profit out of a conference business you produce with up-front money from your own pockets become a bad thing. “Payola my ass.”
    Life is pay to play and only in someone’s dreams do they get to strut for free just because the founders are “smart,” “connected” or know how to “pitch.”
    As a former Demo producer I’m obviously prejudiced, but let’s see Arrington make numbers with his model. I made my numbers and worked myself nearly into the grave–one heart attack and one stroke, doing Demo and the newsletters.
    I use to interview up to 95 companies for every one slot, and i did this because I believed in the industyry and because i knew my product had value.
    I deeply resent the use of the word “payola” to describe Demo. The only money I received was a paycheck from the parent company, IDG, and I didn’t do anything unethical or criminal in the nearly 10 years I worked as a Demo producer or writer for the newsletter.
    The descriptor “”payola” in the context of Demo really annoys me. Unlike at least one other conference producer who appears on panels at industry panels, I never once demanded that the conference pay for first class air fare in order for me to attend, or asked for or received any renumeration from companies i selected, other than the same fees I charged other companies (I know, how egalitarian of me). Oh one other thing, when a name rporter brought their daughter to Agenda, I personaly volunteered to watch her daughter while she schmoozed up attendees. Furthermore, I regularly provided discount passes when it seemed a company needed such passes to present its products to my audiences.
    If Demo had been “Payola” My retirement boat would be a lot longer than its current 18 feet and I would now be living on a piece of property much bigger than my micro-grove here on a little mountaintop in rural SanDiego County next to Camp Pendleton.
    Finally, very rarely would a company blink when I explained what our business model was, and not one company ever told me that felt as if they had been held up or taken advatnage of.
    I am extremely proud of my time at Demo and I wish TechCrun20 all the best in the world.

    Jim Forbes (retired DEMO producer, turned farmer)

  2. BobsYourUncle

    “Does the world need another American Idol-style pitch conference for startups? …Anyone who’s been to any of these launch conferences knows how unproductive they can be…”

    Can anyone give me feedback on the “Under the Radar” conferences put on my Dealmaker Media? The above comment has me wondering.

    Our company was invited, but I’m still trying to figure out if it’s anything special.