Looking for Enterprise Software at DEMO, Found a Soap Opera

Share it on Twitter  
Share it on Facebook  
Share it on Linked in  

Someone contacted me this week to look at his product, which was being released and demonstrated at DEMO.


I must admit that sitting here on the right coast, about as far from Silicon Valley as you can get and still be in the U.S., I had no idea what DEMO was. I guessed correctly that it was one of those invitation-only multi-day sessions like Red Herring runs where high-technology (not just information technology) startups or restarts can introduce themselves. It's billed as the "launch pad for emerging technology." (I am really embarrassed to say I never heard of it because it's a subsidiary of my final employer IDG and has been around almost 20 years. I guess I should have attended those boring quarterly meetings.)


I didn't bother to run the numbers, but the $18,500 fee to make a presentation at DEMO appears to be a cheaper way to roll out new products to press and analysts than what we used to do here on Route 128: Pack up one or two tractor trailers and head off to the Plaza, or Tavern on the Green, or -- in memoriam this week -- Windows on the World. Of course, these days you wouldn't need the tractor trailers, which was a big part of the cost.


DEMO's also part of a soap opera among Valley wags. That is because DEMO in San Diego is running at the same time as a similar but only two-year-old event called TechCrunch50, being held in San Francisco. Both events have an impressive list of eminent advisers, with Marc Benioff of salesforce.com on both lists. It looks like the advisers of TechCrunch are actually on site, whereas the DEMO advisers apparently just advise.


The drama is based on why one firm scheduled its event on the same days as the other. Both accuse the other of changing dates to cause the conflict. TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington says DEMO's business model is unethical and it appears he would get some kind of satisfaction putting DEMO out of business. Perhaps he had a startup once that wasn't picked to pay an inflation-adjusted $18,500?


The good news is that there are enough startups to fill both venues. I'll follow up and see if there is something important at either event of interest to the enterprise software world.


(I should add that a lot of the vitriol between the two production firms goes back to the "pay for play" discussion I posted about here in July and which will get some analysis in my upcoming article on How to Use IT Research (working title). Only in this case, the allegation is that the small software company has to pay IDG [parent of IDC and DEMO] rather than Gartner. At TechCrunch, according to its producers, the attendees pay the bill.)