April 02, 2008 |
When I saw the announcement for TechCrunch50 (or whatever number Michael Arrington and Jason Calcanis end up changing it to), I let out a little gasp, but I'm not sure why I was surprised. It took me a little while to digest that they were so blatant as to schedule the dates for their start-up launch event right on top of DEMO's fall dates.
It's taken me a few hours to digest it, really. I had to consider what this means for tech start-ups, what it means for launch events, and what it means for everyone who's going to be buried under the fallout.
On the positive side, there's the potential for an awful lot of companies to have a platform to launch at two very high-profile events. Unfortunately, the positive side ends about there. What Arrington and Calcanis have done here isn't good for anyone: not themselves, not for Chris Shipley and Carla Thompson, and certainly not for start-ups.
Arrington claims that the schedule conflict was unintentional, but I don't think there's a soul on Earth who believes that. Let's face it, both Arrington and Calcanis have found their niche as in-your-face sorts of people. Last year, TechCrunch40 was held within a week of DEMO and that was bad enough. Start-ups will, for the most part, have to choose between the two events: the trendy clout of TechCrunch or the established tradition of DEMO? Not to mention that by forcing start-ups to choose, you have to realize that the quality of start-ups at both events will decrease. Does anyone really think that there are over 100 start-ups who would launch at the same time who'd be worth looking at?
It also forces other outlets to choose what to cover when a start-up launch already stretches coverage very thin. The usual press coverage of these events will be greatly reduced, providing less of a boost to companies launching at either event. Will TechCrunch bother covering both events, or is a company's chance of getting TechCrunch coverage dependent on launching at their event and not DEMO?
It seems fairly obvious that Arrington has a plan for world domination: take down CNET; take down DEMO. The only problem with the mentality that you need to be the only one left standing in the end is that competition is what drives success. What would have been better for start-ups, better for TechCrunch, and yes, better for DEMO, would have been to schedule the TechCrunch event right smack in the middle between the DEMO events. They could have gotten companies that were ready for launch at a different time and improved the pool of companies that were launching at each event.
Now it turns into nothing more than a slapfest, and both events as well as start-ups are going to suffer. Arrington and Calcanis have the Highlander mentality that there can be one, but they might want to rethink that. In the Highlander scenario, one ends up without a head and the other one gets hit by lightning and ends up alone. I wouldn't want to be either one of them.