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TechCrunch 50 scheduled to overlap with Demo

Hot start-ups selected to demo at the San Francisco confab won't have to pay DemoFall's five-figure fee.

For years, the Demo conferences--one in the spring and another in the fall--have dominated the mindshare of the technology press and venture capitalists eager to see the hottest start-ups and new products at their public unveilings.

But now, Michael Arrington and Jason Calacanis have scheduled their TechCrunch 50 event--which will showcase 50 hand-selected start-ups--to overlap with DemoFall.

And besides the cachet that comes with being selected for the TechCrunch event--Arrington said in a blog post this afternoon that the 40 companies that participated last year have raised $143 million in venture capital to date--one major selling point for companies that might agonize over which event to attend is that TC 50 doesn't cost participants a dime.

DemoFall, by contrast, costs the 70 or so companies selected to attend well into five figures.

TechCrunch is also cheaper to buy a ticket for: $1,995 through July 15, and $2,995 afterwards, versus DemoFall's rate of $2,999.

So what's a start-up to do?

One thing seems clear: Both events will probably be slightly less rich with the best companies and products than they might otherwise have been, since some potential TC 50 selections will still no doubt choose to go to DemoFall.

After all, if you're a company that has raised millions of dollars in funding, the $15,000 or $20,000 it costs to take part in Demo isn't all that much.

Maybe the real question that will determine which event comes out on top is which one Wall Street Journal kingmaker Walt Mossberg, a longtime fixture at the Demo shows, chooses to cover. If I were an executive at a company vying for either event, I'd be calling Mossberg right now and asking politely if he knows.

And in the same vein, if I'm Arrington and Shipley, I'm trying to figure out the best way to get Mossberg to commit to my show.

Either way, it's a bold--and aggressive--move on Arrington's part. And it's sure to make him a whole bunch of new enemies, and a bunch of new friends. Which camp you fall into depends on whether you are part of the Demo family or not.