TechCrunch50: Ron Conway, Reid Hoffman, Tony Hsieh, Tim O'Reilly, and Robert Scoble join Panel of Experts

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TechCrunch50 is just a few weeks away, and it’s time to announce more expert panelists who’ll judge the fifty launching startups in front of a crowd of 2,000 or so eager attendees.

Today we’re pleased to announce Angel investor Ron Conway, LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, O’Reilly Media CEO Tim O’Reilly, and tech blogger Robert Scoble will join us on stage at the event.

They’ll join the already announced Marc Andreessen, Roelof Botha, Marissa Mayer, Yossi Vardi, Kevin Rose and Sean Parker.

And yes, the experts are already jostling for the right to judge the new product that Penn & Teller will be launching at the event. But there are 49 other awesome startups showing their stuff for the first time, too.

Ron, Tim, and Robert were experts last year and have returned based on popular demand. Reid and Tony will be making their first appearances. Additional judges will be announced next week.

All the details for the conference are here. TechCrunch50 is an action-packed conference where fifty new startups launch over two days. The event will be held at the San Francisco Design Center, a huge and beautiful venue where we packed nearly 2,000 participants last year. Last week we announced Penn & Teller will be attending to launch a new product.

Tickets for the event can be purchased here courtesy of Eventbrite. We’ve slashed our early-bird prices from 2008 to $1995 through August 31. (Prices escalate to $2,995.) Students interested in volunteering for the event can fill out this form. Additionally, exhibitor passes are available for $8,000, which include entry to the conference for 4 people, a 5’ exhibitor table, and other goodies.

More on the TechCrunch50 blog.

Ron Conway

Ronald Conway has been an active angel investor for over 15 years. He was the Founder and Managing Partner of the Angel Investors LP funds (1998-2005) whose investments included: Google, Ask Jeeves, Paypal, Good Technology, Opsware, and Brightmail. He was recently named #6 in Forbes Magazine Midas list of top “deal-makers” in 2008 and is actively involved in numerous philanthropic endeavors. Ron was with National Semiconductor Corporation in marketing positions (1973-1979), Altos Computer Systems as a co-founder, President and CEO (1979-1990) and took Altos public on Nasdaq in 1982 and served as CEO of Personal Training Systems (PTS) (1991-1995). PTS was acquired by SmartForce/SkillSoft (Nasdaq SKIL). Ron has served/serves on Boards/Advisory Boards including: Twitter, Digg.com, Bright Mail, Ask Jeeves, Rupture (acquired by EA), Associated Content, Facebook, RockYou, ScanScout, Zappos, Trulia, StumbleUpon, Plaxo (acquired by Comcast), Photobucket (acquired by Fox), and Anchor Intelligence (co-founder).

Philanthropically, Ron is Vice Chairman of the UCSF Medical Foundation in SF, Board Member of The Tiger Woods Foundation, and SF Homeless Connect, and on the Benefit Committee of Ronald McDonald House, College Track, and the Blacked Eyed Peas-PeaPod Academy Foundation.

Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman is Executive Chairman and a co-founder of LinkedIn. Prior to LinkedIn, Reid was Executive Vice President of PayPal where he was in charge of all business relationships: business development, corporate development, international, government relations, and banking/payments infrastructure. During his tenure at PayPal, Reid was instrumental to the acquisition by eBay and was responsible for partnerships with Intuit, Visa, MasterCard and Wells Fargo. Reid also has held management roles in significant technology companies, including Fujitsu Software Corporation and Apple. In addition to LinkedIn, Reid serves on the Board of Directors for SixApart, Kiva.org, and Mozilla Corporation. Reid graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a BS in Symbolic Systems and from Oxford University with a Master’s degree in philosophy and a Marshall scholarship.

Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos.com, which was recently acquired by Amazon. Since he joined Zappos full time in 2000 Zappos has grown gross merchandise sales from $1.6M to $840M in 2007 by focusing relentlessly on customer service. Prior to joining Zappos, Tony co-founded Venture Frogs with Alfred Lin. Venture Frogs is an incubator and investment firm that invested in Internet startups, including Ask Jeeves, Tellme Networks, and of course, Zappos.com. Prior to Venture Frogs, Tony co-founded LinkExchange, an advertising network that was successfully sold to Microsoft for $265M in 1998.

Tim O’Reilly

Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. O’Reilly Media also hosts conferences on technology topics, including the Web 2.0 Summit, the Web 2.0 Expo, the O’Reilly Open Source Convention, and the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. Tim’s blog, the O’Reilly Radar, “watches the alpha geeks” to determine emerging technology trends, and serves as a platform for advocacy about issues of importance to the technical community. Tim is an activist for open source and open standards, and an opponent of software patents and other incursions of new intellectual property laws into the public domain. Tim’s long-term vision for his company is to change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators.

Robert Scoble

Robert Scoble is a leading blogger, technical evangelist, and author. He is currently working for Rackspace where he is building a community for people fanatical about the Internet called Building43. Scoble is best known for his popular blog, Scobleizer, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technical evangelist at Microsoft. He is also the co-author of Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers.

Great partners make great conferences

We’re really lucky to have the corporate support of some of the best names in the business. Sequoia Capital, Charles River Ventures and Perkins Coie all returned quickly to support us for the third year in a row. Google, Founders Fund, Microsoft and MySpace are back for their second year of partnership. Additional partners will be named in the next few weeks.

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