John Battelle does the right thing: DEMOing at Web 2.0 is now free!


Wanted to give a big RIGHT ON! to John Battelle for taking the payola out of demoing at tech conference: this year at the Web 2.0 conference startup companies will no longer have to pay to get on stage.

Mike and I started the TechCrunch40 conference in large part to fight the trend of DEMO-style conferences for sticking it to startup companies by making them pay $18.5k for six minutes on stage–SIX MINUTES!!! Over three thousand dollars a minute. I still can’t get my head around that number.

Are these companies being forced to pay? No. However, I believe that the trend was moving to pay for play and I’m really excited that the trend is now swinging back to the entrepreneur. In fact nothing would please me more then being part of the trend that shutdown the concept of startups paying to present on stage. I actually think that’s what going to happen…. really I do. Why would anyone pay $18,500 to present for six minutes if conferences like TechCrunch40 and the Web 2.0 Summit don’t charge? Who in their right mind would pay this fee?

This is nothing personal against the folks who run the other trade shows. I know the folks who run the trade shows and I think they are very smart, nice people. However, as an entrepreneur i can’t tell you how much it grinds me to have folks ask for THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS a minute for people to present their companies.

  • To my fellow entrepreneurs I say this: form a united front and don’t support the trend of pay for play.
  • To the folks running those other conference I say this: Do the right thing and waive the demo fee.

Paying for a ticket to an event? Sure, I get it… the event cost money to put on. I don’t even have a problem with speakers being asked to pay for an event. Every warm body at an event costs hundreds of dollars a day. The conference producers shouldn’t have to lose money putting on the show.

Paying to sponsor an event if you’re a law firm, a big tech company, or a VC? Sure, supporting events is great and we should reward and encourage these folks to continue to underwrite events. We should be really thankful that there are cool companies like AOL, Google, Microsoft, HP, and Yahoo who will support events like this.

However, 70 start up companies paying almost $20k each? No–that’s just not cool. If you pay that fee you’re encouraging other conference producers to charge you the next time. I suggest holding out to present at another conference, or heck… start your own conference!

My prediction: This is the last year ANYONE will be able to charge entrepreneurs to present on stage… .and the makes me very happy. 🙂

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