(This post originally appeared on Infoworld’s Notes From the Field blog.)
Big trade shows like CES (and in the paleolithic era, Comdex) may have all the glitz, glamour, and booth bimbos, but the real action happens in the smaller confabs where the elite meet and greet. That’s where the next Googles and Facebooks will emerge.
For the last few years that’s been Demo, Uncle Walt Mossberg’s "The D Conference," and a handful of others. Now TechCrunch’s Michael
Arrogant Arrington is jumping into the fray with two large left feet and taking no prisoners. The "TechCrunch 50" confab in San Francisco is scheduled for September 8 to 10, heavily overlapping DemoFall in San Diego on September 7 to 9. Coincidence? I think not.
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…. 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.
This week the flame war between TC and Demo got doused with five gallons of kerosene when a former Demo staffer accused Arrington’s TC50 partner, Jason Calacanis, of plagiarizing a document she allegedly wrote 10 years ago on how to be a "Demo God." Arrington responded by calling Demo a "payola-based competitor" because it charges companies $18,500 to do presentations, while TC50 is "free." (According to comments on the site, TC50 still charges presenters $3K "to cover costs" — so "cheap" is probably more accurate.)
And… yadda yadda yadda. Expect more manure to fly before the dust settles next month.
Chris Shipley is a former Infoworlder and a well respected journalist. But neither IFW nor I have any connection to the show, so I don’t have a horse in this race. I got invited to both though, and I’m picking Demo. Why? Because like a lot of tech journalists, I have problems with Arrington and TechCrunch. Yes, he gets a lot of readers and has enormous influence. But the reporting on his site is closer to the Weekly World News than the Wall Street Journal. They will apparently reprint any rumor, regardless of its relation to reality. The site has ties to some of the companies it covers (for which it has been criticized elsewhere) and Arrington’s notion of "research" doesn’t appear to stretch much further than calling his buddies in the VC world and asking their opinions.
Worse, he takes a VC approach to everything: If a company makes money for investors, it’s good thing, regardless of whether consumers get screwed. Hence his over-the-top responses to the failed MicroHoo venture. Three days of this? No thank you. I’d rather watch "payola-based" demos. At least then I’ll know who paid for them.