Once again, rival start-up conferences TechCrunch 50 and Demo are being held this year on the same days, September 13 to 15. The September Demo conference is also moving from its traditional Southern California resort location to a venue closer to the entrepreneurs and venture capitalists it serves, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Demo also has another conference in March, in Palm Desert, Calif.)
Verbal sparring between the two event organizers has started. After IDG and VentureBeat, who partnered to produce Demo, announced their September dates, Jason Calacanis, who with with Michael Arrington produces the TechCrunch 50 event, said on Twitter, "TechCrunch50 is September 13th-15th, save the dates....and yes, it appears DEMO has once again moved their event to our dates. ugh."
Speaking for Demo, IDG Senior VP Neal Silverman said in a statement, "In order for us to bring the conference to Silicon Valley, these were the dates that worked best for all parties. We were not aware of specific dates published by TechCrunch at the time of our announcement."
Notably, the parties did not talk to each other about their conference dates before they booked their venues. And as far as I can tell, TechCrunch had not publicly announced its dates before the January 5 Demo announcement.
The real tragedy is that the people who run these events don't cooperate on timing. These conferences claim to serve entrepreneurs and their patrons (venture capitalists), but this willful refusal to coordinate makes the presenters pawns more than customers. Presenters know that no matter which event they choose (if they are lucky enough to have a choice), they're not getting the full audience they'd like, since potential funders, partners, and commentators will be split between the competing shows.
Of course, with TechCrunch saying "Demo needs to die," and cleverly undercutting part of Demo's business model--TechCrunch does not charge presenters to go on stage, while Demo charges about $20,000--one can't expect that it'd be easy for either party to make a move of reconciliation.
But please, TechCrunch and Demo, for the sake of the start-ups, don't let this happen again.