Now that TechCrunch and Jason Calacanis have scheduled their TechCrunch50 start-up celebration conference at the same time as IDG’s DEMO start-up celebration conference, the allegations are flying:
- Who moved whose conference to kill who.
- Who ripped off who.
- Who’s screwing who.
- Who’s greedy, mercenary, abusive…
For the past 24-hours, as the scandal has raged, the normally loquacious Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis has kept abnormally silent. Until now.
In an exclusive statement to Silicon Alley Insider (below), Jason reveals his respect for Chris Shipley-the-person (Chris is the IDG conference organiser who has been blasting TechCrunch and Jason for “TechCrunch’s decision to put its event literally on top of DEMOfall 08”).
Jason blasts Chris and IDG for abusing start-ups. Jason argues that DEMO is the one that switched its dates–in order to compete with TechCrunch40 (last year’s version of the conference). Jason decries “pay to speak” conferences like DEMO as nothing more than payola for conference promoters. Jason ends by offering Chris Shipley a job.
We’ll begin our smackdown with DEMO’s Chris Shipley:
I’m baffled by TechCrunch’s decision to put its event literally on top of DEMOfall 08. DEMOfall is Sept 7 – 9, TC50 (the number has grown from the original TC20 concept) is Sept 8 – 10.
I’m not naive. I’m not at all surprised by the competition. A year or so ago, TechCrunch set its sites on DEMO and has been lobbing missiles our way ever since. Why? Honestly, I don’t know. This is a great big market and there is ample opportunity to support the startups in it. I also understand that it’s much easier to imitate a successful venture than to create a new value proposition. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then consider me well flattered today.
What baffles me, though, is why an organisation that purports to encourage startups would create an environment that effectively asks them to scream in a hurricane.
The companies who accept our invitation to participate at DEMO receive a ton of media coverage. DEMO 08 did well over 200 million media impressions . . . and that’s without counting the audience who read about DEMO companies in blogs and other online media and those who continue to flock to DEMO.com to view the videos of their presentations.
The companies that participated at TC40 got lots of attention, too, and certainly I’ll not take anything away from the audience reach of TechCrunch. By putting TC50 up against DEMO, TechCrunch has created a challenging dilemma for the best startups.
Sure, they’ll have to choose which venue will more appropriately serve their needs — and the should. Here, DEMO stands on its 18-year record. The entire DEMO organisation, from me and Carla who screen companies to Jackie DiPerna who helps them prepare for their DEMO experience, to our A/V team that coaches and supports their on-stage demo, to Becky Sniffen and Erica Lee who provide media support, to the DEMO.com crew who continues to cover DEMO alumni companies for years after they’ve presented at DEMO. . . DEMO is all about putting entrepreneurs first to accelerate their go-to-market efforts.
Yes, demonstrators pay a fee, an $18,500 fee, once they have been accepted and invited to present at the conference. And that’s no small hurdle for the very smallest of startups. Consistently, we’ve been told by demonstrating companies that it’s the best marketing money they’ve ever spent, with value far surpassing the dollars paid. But that fee is also a signal to the investors and business development executives and customers who come to DEMO. It says, in effect, these companies are ready to be taken seriously. They understand the value of a market presence and they’ll spend — wisely — to support their product launch and reach their potential customers, the vast majority of whom live no where near Silicon Valley and San Francisco.
And, now, Jason Calacanis:
1. Chris may be crying that we are taking her dates but that is false: DEMO moved up their dates this year by three weeks to come after TechCrunch40. They we’re on 9/24 last year and we were the week before them. DEMO decided to move their conference up to try and unseat us.
2. Chris and DEMO are abusing startup companies. The DEMO conference has been unchallenged for years and they have spread a horrible virus in the industry: conference payola. Their $18,500 fee for a six minute is so abusive it’s criminal. Startups had no choice in the market until last year, and DEMO’s horrible treatment of entrepreneurs lead “pay for your speaking gig” virus to spread to other conferences like Web 2.0. John Battelle himself hated doing the pay for play thing and he STOPPED DOING IT last year thanks to TechCrunch40 coming into the market. We are killing the payola market for fellow entrepreneurs.
3. The marketplace is going to decide which conference model is better: pay for play or merit based with a $50,000 grand prize. We like our chances.
4. Chris kicked out a number of companies who presented at TechCrunch40 last year. Those companies GAVE UP their $18,500 fee at DEMO in favour of presenting at TechCrunch40–that says it all. If she’s so pro-company why is she kicking them out?
5. Smart entrepreneurs should go where the best big companies, best VCs, best press, and best, and most competitive companies are and that’s TechCrunch50.
6. No one should shed a tear if DEMO shuts down after this year. It’s a abusive conference run by the multi-billion dollar IDG that plays off the entrepreneurial spirit of startups. The best entrepreneurs are not going to pay for play.
7. Deep in my heart I know Chris Shipley is a good person in a bad situation. She works for IDG which sees startup companies as dollar signs. I respect her intellect and passion. If she wants to do the right thing she should resign from IDG/DEMO after this year and join the TechCrunch50 event. We would love to have on our team–that’s a serious offer. She should be working with Mike and I and help us bring TechCrunch50 to Europe, India, and Asia.
So, folks, which conference are YOU going to attend?
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