What a day. 1,700 people streamed into the San Francisco Design Center at 9 am on Monday morning to help launch the first group of 52 startups at TechCrunch50. Dozens more startups were camped out in the demopit.
First, the bad news. The internet was down completely for half the day, and never really worked that well even when it was up. We had dedicated access for the launching companies, so the on stage demos went well. But the audience was left to rely on mobile access or none at all. And most of the demopit companies weren’t able to show their stuff.
Needless to say we were pissed off. The vendor was fired and we brought someone new in, and by early evening everything was working well. Demopit companies, which rotate every day, were given another day to show off their products.
The good news: Sixteen startups had a hell of a launch party in front of 1,700 attendees. Most arrived early to watch Ashton Kutcher live on stage launching his new BlahGirls.com interactive video site in the first session.
Later in the day, I had a surprise interview with MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe, who spoke about MySpace’s increasingly open policies (such as the implementation of OpenSocial) and the upcoming launch of MySpace Music.
To close the day, we had a rare chat with investor Peter Thiel, who gave some advice on what to look for in a startup, as well as some fascinating takes on artificial intelligence, the impact of today’s economy on VCs, and politics.
For those that couldn’t attend, the entire event was live streamed for free thanks to sponsor Ustream. An incredible 35,545 unique visitors watched the stream – and a total of 13,547 viewer hours were logged. On average there were 2,081 viewers at any given time. We’ll continue to livestream the entire conference.
Lots more startups are launching today and tomorrow, and when they get off stage they talk to press and then hang out at a booth to give personalized demos to attendees.