Serial Killings Haunt Web 2.0

Posted on April 3, 2008
Filed Under Valley Drama |

Music labels are dead. Television is too. And don’t forget the newspapers. Then the grim reaper of TechCrunch shifted his focus and started plotting to kill specific companies - .

But even as the pile of bodies grows, it’s rarely enough to quell the urge to kill and TechCrunch seems to be the source of an increasingly morbid philosophy.

The latest victim of this morbid philosophy is the DEMO conference. In an interview Wednesday, the TechCrunch founder stated, “Demo needs to die.”

According to Arrington, DEMO, which has been serving as a launch pad for new startups for 18 years, needs to go because it has “an old-school model…It clearly involves pay to play, and what we’re offering is better.”

In an effort to kill DEMO, Arrington has scheduled the TechCrunch50 conference to be right on top of DEMO, essentially forcing entrepreneurs (and others) to choose which conference they’ll attend. While Arrington insists that the scheduling is completely unintentional, this is hard to reconcile with his comments.

There’s certainly some level of exaggeration in Arrington’s remarks. After all, Arrington has been served well by making abrasive statements. It’s far easier to grab attention using words like “death” and “kill” than it is to do so with tasteful statements.

This is, of course, entirely emblematic of a Web 2.0 “industry” where style beats substance and ego increasingly trumps enlightenment.

But the drama between TechCrunch and DEMO is still a bit disappointing because it really does represent a low blow to the “community.”

There’s no harm done in letting big media player haters make asinine comments about the death of industries that are still making billions of dollars. And it’s probably fun to fantasize about killing off poorly-managed companies. But there’s no reason that a difference in opinion over conference formats needs to turn into a dick-swinging contest that slaps everybody else in the face.

Fortunately, others see it for what it is and Chris Shipley, executive producer of DEMO, refuses to be sucked into a death match:

What baffles me, though, is why an organization that purports to encourage startups would create an environment that effectively asks them to scream in a hurricane.

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 organization, 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 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.

Critics argue that DEMO, which charges presenters an $18,500 fee, is taking advantage of startups, but ostensibly the entrepreneurs behind those startups are capable of deciding whether the potential exposure is worth the fee. Contrary to what some in the Web 2.0 community believe, everything that isn’t free doesn’t need to be made free.

And just because you don’t like something, doesn’t mean that you have to go out of your way to try to kill it. The talk of death and killing was amusing for about as long as Friendster was popular. Now, it is downright creepy.

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8 Responses to “Serial Killings Haunt Web 2.0”

  1. Mr Web User on April 3rd, 2008 11:12 am

    This post is so right on. The entire community should boycott Techcrunch from this point forward. It’s dark, ugly, stupid, and freakish.

    Arrington plan has always been to bully everyone into thinking that he has influence. When will the entire community stand up and boo him down.

    BOYCOTT Techcrunch and Techcrunch 50

  2. Another on April 3rd, 2008 1:41 pm

    Techcrunch is a joke. 20+ posts per day of garbage.

  3. competition is good on April 3rd, 2008 2:13 pm

    Arrington has always been a bully?

    He’s not the one charging ~20k per start up. Oh, that’s right, they’re not forcing start ups to pay that.. just like he’s not forcing anyone to do anything either.

    Unless your talking about him bullying you out of your piece of that pie, Mr. Web User.

    Competition and options are a good thing.

    He can be a bit condescending but so what? If he gets too full of himself, people will get sick of hearing it and he’ll have fewer readers.

    But on this issue, I think he’s making a damn good point. No more gravy train for demo!

  4. Huh? on April 3rd, 2008 2:55 pm

    “Scheduling is completely unintentional”, last year it was the week before DEMO. I’ve been to both and they are much different audiences and presenting companies.

    DEMO is much more polished and professional.

    I think it’s disappointing that MA is trying squash opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups, by trying to hog all the attention.

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