It stands to reason that TechCrunch the blog will have an unfair advantage in covering the TechCrunch50 event. The same team produces both products, and the company has put a gag order on companies accepted to present on stage. Only the TechCrunch team knows who's going to be pitching at the event. So it will be easy for them to organize their coverage and even prepare stories on the presenting companies ahead of time.
This kvetch may smack of inside baseball to many readers, but it's been bugging me. Do I really want to spend three days covering an event where I am at such a decided disadvantage, where I'm competing with the event itself? DemoFall, for comparison's sake, doesn't compete with other journalists or blogs; It has its own site but it doesn't have the readership, stature, or aspirations of TechCrunch.
But I believe TechCrunch's unfair advantage in covering its own event will be mitigated by policies that TechCrunch50 co-host Jason Calacanis relayed after talking with CNET News Editor in Chief Dan Farber. Quoting an e-mail from Calacanis:
Mike [Arrington, TechCrunch founder] has agreed that:
a) he will not allow TechCrunch editors to bank stories [write them ahead of time].
b) TechCrunch will not cover the live demos until after each session--giving other press outlets first shot at the stories (like an HOUR advantage!)
c) TechCrunch will link to other publications in TC's coverage.
Good for you, Jason and Michael. I still have issues with the way the event is set up, but if your team holds true to these policies, at least I'm not going into this event with the deck completely stacked against me.
This move is also a sound business decision. It makes sense to keep the press happy at TechCrunch50, since press coverage is one of the key drivers for events like this, and since the TechCrunch50 event is such a big moneymaker for the TechCrunch company. Even a blog of TechCrunch's size can make only so much money from advertising. The real money for a business of TechCrunch's scale is events, and TechCrunch50, with its 800 to 1,000 (my estimate) paid attendees at $2,995 each, and its roster of five-figure sponsors, is this operation's big revenue producer.
For other coverage of TechCrunch50 and the competing DemoFall conference, see CNET's Launch Week page, our special Twitter feed, and the other major Web 2.0 blogs like Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, GigaOm, and CenterNetworks. If you like the inside-the-beltway skinny, ValleyWag is also sure to have some fun items.