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CEDIAcrunch hands-on: Universal Remote's three new models

I haven’t had a lot of time to jump into the big fracas this weekend emerging about TechCrunch50 because the team has been busy organizing the conference, working with the Expert Panelists on scheduling issues and spending hours and hours working with the 52 startups that will be launching at the event to make sure their demos properly reflect what they’ve worked so hard to create.

But I do have a few things to say.

First, thanks to Chris O’Brien at the San Jose Mercury News who wrote such a great article on TechCrunch and the conference. What a wonderful, positive way to kick things off as we go into the craziness on Monday. He really gets what we’re trying to accomplish and how honored we are that these startups have chosen to launch at our event.

Second, some of the press out there is starting to go a little crazy with the drama between TechCrunch50 and the competing DEMO conference. But there’s nothing new here. We’ve stated from the beginning, in early 2007, that we think the DEMO format is unethical. If you are going to parade out a bunch of startups on a stage that paid you $18,500 each, you simply can’t say they’re the most qualified companies to be at the event. It’s just a lie. Here’s what they are: Sponsors. And here’s what’s going on: Payola.

We’re approaching the market in a straightforward and honest way. We aren’t charging companies to get on stage. We are charging people to attend. And we also have sponsors (really kick ass sponsors who get what we are trying to do). All of the economics are transparent, there is nothing hidden.

That honesty is why 1,700 have chosen to attend the event. That honesty is why these great industry leaders are spending their time to judge and discuss the launches. And that honesty is why over 1,000 startups spent time applying to the event and going through endless rounds of interviews for the chance to get on stage (thank you to every one of you who applied).

Most of the press gets this, even though DEMO organizer Chris Shipley sounds like she’s about to blow a fuse over the fact that their business model is finally being questioned.

Third, CNET really needs to chill out about press coverage of the event. This $1.8 billion company has published at least four articles complaining about the fact that we are not disclosing the companies launching at the event until Monday morning, and/or about the fact that TechCrunch the blog has some sort of unfair advantage in covering these startups launching at TechCrunch50.

We aren’t disclosing the names of the startups because we want the press to actually attend the event, not cover it from their office. We want them to hear the ooh’s and ahh’s (and maybe boo’s) from the audience first hand as they write their stories. We want them to actually participate. And based on last year’s coverage, the model works very well. I’m sorry if it doesn’t suit CNET, but it suits us and it suits the startups launching there very well. And when it comes to TechCrunch’s coverage, we’ll be sure to link out to all the quality third party coverage out there. Also, we’ll have critical company information on each launching startup available on CrunchBase starting Monday morning. CNET and everyone else is free to grab that data and use it however they like, with no requirement of attribution (it’s not our data, it’s the startups’ data).

Finally, Can we please remember what’s important? There are 52 companies launching at TechCrunch50 this week, and they deserve their brief moments in the spotlight. These people have put their hearts and souls into creating whatever it is that their entrepreneurial spirit compelled them to create, and they only get to launch once. We’re putting on one hell of a show for them, and my sincere hope is that we can get all this political garbage out of the way today so that we can focus on what really matters at the event: the startups.

If you want to focus on the news at the event as it unfolds, complete coverage of the conference from start to finish will be at this link and on the TechCrunch50 blog.

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