Is it me or does the west coast technology scene resemble something of a car accident?
Who's in? Who's out? Who gets an unfair look at coverage? Who charges for what?
Among all that catfighting and negativity, how is anyone supposed to get their startup taken seriously?
A VC asked me the other day if I was thinking about participating in TechCrunch 50 and I nearly laughed out loud.
I respect Jason Calacanis and Mike Arrington for their ability to self-promote, but remember, its self promotion that's their specialty, not the promotion of others. Once again, the big news coming out of TechCrunch 50 isn't the companies--we don't even know who they are yet--it's the promoters.
Let's get it straight. No company has ever been made or broken on TechCrunch, and the idea that Mike has been called a "kingmaker" is laughable. If he was a kingmaker, he would have taken the $5 million he had to build Edgio, and made himself a startup king.
Instead, he found out that there's no substitute for a great product and great marketing. That's what makes or breaks companies. If you've built something really great, you need to systematically find your target audience and get them using it, and build in the product features that make it easy to spread. For most startups, the crowd at TechCrunch50 and Demo isn't anything close to the userbase most of these companies are looking to get.
In fact, if you're participating in anything that has an embargo attached to it, you're wasting valuable opportunities to get in front of reporters when there aren't dozens of other companies all trying to launch at the same time. You can say that TechCrunch 50 has no cost, unlike Demo, but there's a real cost to it. Time is money to entrepreneurs, and if you're not allowed to talk to reporters, and each day you burn more of your own or your angels money, participating in this conference is costing you real money.
That's another reason why I'm happy to be building my company here on the east coast, where we don't let all this startup stuff get to our heads, because our egos are kept in check by the enormity of other industries around us. When you're big in tech in the Valley, you're huge. When you're big in tech in NYC, you've still got a ways to go, and for a hungry entrepreneur, that's a much healthier place to be.