Oh, this brings back memories. It seems like yesterday that we announced we (TechCrunch and Jason Calacanis) were going to compete with DEMO, the twice yearly conference that’s been around forever.
They were the only show in town back then and they charged a ridiculous fee for startups to be on stage. Our business model was simple – don’t charge startups a penny to launch. Instead, be thankful for all that great free content and build a business around it.
My favorite moment of the early years was when we just put our new conference on at exactly the same time as DEMO. I said something like “DEMO needs to die.” Their response can be roughly paraphrased as “oh shit.”
VentureBeat soon took over the DEMO conference, and everyone for the most part gets along these days. But DEMO has always taken itself out of the game by insisting that all (or most) launching startups have to pay a fee. With much bigger audiences and the no fee philosophy Disrupt always wins with more attendees, revenue and profit.
The conference last week, a year after I was fired, was their most successful one yet.
My first reaction was “perfect.” Erick is very good on stage and in front of a camera and has tons of experience running big events that have crushed DEMO in the past. His joining makes DEMO relevant for me again and I’ll definitely attend the next one, assuming I’m invited.
VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall puts on a brave face with the change, and I believe him when he says the conference is too much work and interfering with other VentureBeat business.
But my understanding was that DEMO owner IDG was paying VentureBeat a handsome fee to run the event and that it provided much needed cash flow for the blog network. If that’s accurate VentureBeat is going to need to find a way to fill that revenue hole. I wouldn’t be surprised if they raised more venture capital to do it.
I also wonder if another former colleague of mine, Sarah Lacy, was considered for the job. She would have been excellent, too, although she would have had the same time conflicts as VentureBeat did since she’s running Pando Daily.
Congratulations to Erick. This is a great place for him to land.