TechCrunch50: You Want Advertising? We'll Give You Advertising

Despite our best intentions, it looks like the DEMO v. TechCrunch50 war will continue, even with DEMO under new management.

In 2007 we launched the first TechCrunch50 event – a place where companies can launch to rabid fans and tech press. These launching companies are the stars of the show, and they don’t pay a cent to attend. We thought DEMO’s longstanding policy of forcing launching companies to pay a $20,000 fee was ridiculous, and led the conference organizers to make decisions based not on the merits of the startups but simply on who was willing and able to pay. Not only do we let startups launch for free, we give the top one a $50,000 prize.

Our conference has grown rapidly – nearly 2,000 people attended TechCrunch50 last year while DEMO languished in San Diego with a paltry few hundred. To be fair, our events were on the exact same dates, so they were hit doubly hard. This year we moved our dates to give them some breathing room. We thought we were done battling DEMO.

But today DEMO announced that they’re giving away a “massive” prize – $2 million in advertising credits – to the top two startups at the event. The press is eating it up, saying that TechCrunch50 looks paltry in comparison.

Of course, there’s a catch. The “advertising” is remnant stuff on IDG properties (IDG owns DEMO) and will certainly be priced at rate card. They’ll also charge for creative and other expenses. Meaning there is very little actual value. I’m guessing that the amount of advertising actually delivered would be in the tens of thousands of dollars of value, at best. And, of course, every startup launching still needs to pay to launch.

But whatever. You want adverting? We’ll give you advertising.

DEMO says they’ll give away $2 million in advertising (it might be $1 million total, they aren’t very clear). We’ll double whatever they’re giving. We’ll give away $4 million in advertising if they’re giving $2 million. And if DEMO increases their number, we’ll increase ours to stay at 2x whatever they are at. Our ads will be on our various TechCrunch networks sites and via our terrific sponsors, who are going to be adding their own inventory as well. We’ll give half to the top two winners, and half to everyone else who launches.

We’ve always supported the startups that launch at TechCrunch50 in every way we can. Throwing in free advertising is easy.

Let’s just take a look at the two events for comparison purposes.

TechCrunch50: Free to launch, 2,000 attendees, $50,000 cash prize to winner. $4 million in free advertising. Awesomeness in a bottle.

DEMO: $20,000 to launch your startup, maybe 500 attendees, $1 million in remnant unsold advertising on IDG properties to each of top two startups.

The choice seems pretty clear to me.