Looking back on TechCrunch40:
The conference was a credible first time out for the team of Michael Arrington and Jason Calcanis. There was a high level of energy and creativity in the meeting room and the "Demo Pit." Although many of the 140 companies will probably not be around in a year (only one quarter are financed and many are in unproven markets or have unproven business models) they were a good snapshot of what Web entrepreneurs are doing today, not just in Silicon Valley but across the world. The breath of applications was impressive, including tools for creating music and video content, information sharing, personal finance, communications, and software tools. In many cases, the companies showing in the Demo Pit were are promising as those on stage, illustrating the difficulty the organizers had in winnowing the list of submissions. I won't try to summarize all the companies here - there are many places I've listed below who have already done so.
There was a lot to see in two days, since the breaks were short and the demos were frequent. You could say that was a "high class problem" since there was never a shortage of things to see or people to talk to.
There were a host of logistical problems which undoubtedly will be fixed if they do it again next year: not enough seats for all the attendees, a hotel that "sold out" of rooms at the conference rate well in advance but had plenty at a much higher price, a wireless network that only worked intermittently, a wired network that didn't work in a large part of the room, no cellular coverage for the people demonstrating mobile apps on the stage. The organizers didn't contract for all the space in the hotel but then complained to the audience when a local VC set up their own, unsanctioned demo area. And the first day ended with a 6:00 - 7:30 "Browse the Demo Pit" without so much as a bottle of water, not to mention the refreshments and other conference would provide during such an occasion. More importantly, as Shel Israel has pointed out, the conference had changing expectations on the type of presentations and level of preparation expected. Not all of the presenting companies gave live demos, and many of those that did could only promise attendees access to a "private beta" some time in the indefinite future. The presentations themselves were not as polished as at DEMO, but in return we got to see companies in an earlier, more formative state of development. The net effect was one of being at the beginning of something, both for the conference and for the companies presenting. The meeting room was packed right up to the end of the two-day event, which is unusual for any conference. If Michael and Jason do it again I'm sure they'll attract an even bigger crowd and an even more stellar group of companies.
- TechCrunch covered itself extensively.
- VentureBeat covered every presentation in detail
- Renee Blodgett covered the events in detail and has great photographs.
- Christine Herron divided the presenters into 6 problem areas they addressed, with tracking personal data heading the list.
- Shel Israel discovered Twitter right before the conference and went to town with it.
- Ars Technica thought the event may have been over-hyped but ultimately lived up to its billing.