My take on Calacanis' view of the TC50/Demo kerfuffle
It's hard to know precisely who's right about the scheduling conflict, but the available evidence suggests Demo set its fall event dates a long time ago.
I'm reading Henry Blodget's story on Jason Calacanis' rant about how the Demo conference organizers are to blame for the scheduling conflict that pits TechCrunch 50 against DemoFall. And I have to say, I'm a little dubious of Calacanis' statements.
According to Calacanis--who gave Blodget an "exclusive" interview on the matter despite telling me Wednesday that he was deferring to TC50 co-organizer Michael Arrington on the matter--the conflict is all Demo's fault.
(Arrington, by the way, set the tone for the environment by telling me, bluntly: ".")
Demo Executive Producer Chris Shipley "may be crying that we are taking her dates, but that is false," Blodget quotes Calacanis as saying. "Demo moved up their dates this year by three weeks to come after TechCrunch40. They (were) on 9/24 last year and we were the week before them. Demo decided to move their conference up to try and unseat us."
Now, I'm not involved in the date scheduling of either conference, but in a telephone interview Wednesday, Shipley told me that Demo schedules the dates of its events three years ahead of time and that the date of DemoFall 08 was publicly announced at the end of the 2007 fall event.
I've been trying to find proof of this announcement, and have so far been coming up short. But I do see proof, from a very old calendar page on Demo's site that listed the dates of Demo's main 2008 winter event all the way back when they were still planning their 2006 events.
I suppose even if Demo had only announced its fall dates at the end of the 2007 show, Calacanis' point could be valid if Shipley et al had tried to move their event in front of the expected date of the 2008 TechCrunch confab.
But if Shipley is telling the truth--and I have no reason to doubt her, especially given the calendar page I cite above--I think Calacanis may have his facts a bit twisted. After all, he doesn't offer any evidence that Demo tried to ace it out on dates other than the fact that DemoFall 08 is a couple of weeks earlier than was DemoFall 07.
But as Calacanis surely knows, conferences move their dates around all the time. Witness the Game Developers Conference, which in 2007 was the week before South by Southwest. In 2008, it was a month before, and in 2008 it will be two weeks after, if my math is right. The reality is: event scheduling, which is often done years ahead of time, is tricky, and it's somewhat rare for a conference to always be on the exact same dates.
Want proof of that? Well, TechCrunch 40 was a week later on the calendar last year than it is this year.
Another Calacanis statement to Blodget makes me wonder, as well. He said, "The marketplace is going to decide which conference model is better: pay for play or merit based with a $50,000 grand prize."
Well, let's assume for a moment that both events sell out, or at least get more or less the same attendance as they did a year ago. If that happens, how is a winner determined?
Not to take Shipley's side in this, but I sort of agree with her about one thing, and that is, in the end, the losers here are the entrepreneurs who are going to get wedged in between a news-hungry press trying to cover both shows and the VCs who want to be able to see what's hot.
Of course, Calacanis ended his bullet-pointed "interview" with what he termed a genuine offer of a job for Shipley.
"If she wants to do the right thing, she should resign from IDG/Demo after this year and join the TechCrunch50 event," Calacanis told Blodget. "We would love to have her 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."
My guess is that Shipley is going to hold on to her current job. But I remain open to surprise.