By Kyle Austin
Ah, start-up week. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you’re aware that this is start-up week for Silicon Valley. With 70 start-ups launching at the annual DEMO conference and 50 launching at the second annual TechCrunch50 conference (TC50), VC’s and technology reporters are jet-setting back and forth between San Francisco and San Diego.
Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, and Jason Calacanis, a former executive at AOL, are directly competing with DEMO this year and challenging the $18,500 that DEMO charges each start-up presenting at their conference (Owned by technology publisher IDG). Arrington and Calacanis have screened more then 1,000 start-ups and are debuting the 50 best through Wednesday for no fee (They get their money through sponsors like Google and Charles River Ventures). With folks like Marissa Meyer of Google and Chris DeWolfe of MySpace joining the 50 start-ups in making announcements at TC50, it seems as though Arrington has created a bigger media event (Besides the fact that the Wi-Fi didn’t work and no one could file stories live there).
I hear that at Demo the wifi works. Not here at TC50.
Arrington certainly has more celebrities then DEMO; just with Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore in attendance. As Brad Stone of the New York Times reports, Kutcher is taking his shot at Mark Zuckerberg and Perez Hilton in launching his own start-up, or he’s just Punking us.
Kutcher used the conference to launch Blah Girls, a do-good celebrity gossip site with an interactive twist. Those that read the gossip site can interact with the three “Blah Girls” by sending comments that they will respond to using an automatic chat bot. The site also seems to be using an ad strategy somewhat similar to what MySpace integrated recently with the “Dark Knight” ad wrap, in teaming with Vitamin Water. In his interview with Stone, Kutcher certainly speaks like a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and even acknowledges the “3 Screen Strategy” that has been made popular by folks like Scott Helbing of AT&T.
“The Web is a great place to create brands that can travel to multiple platforms. By traveling to multiple platforms you can create multiple revenue streams. That is one component…. I think this [the computer] is the DVR of the future. If we can establish ourselves at the ground level of the wild wild West of content creation, we can be on top of potentially a very large business. I like that.” ~ Ashton Kutcher with Brad Stone of the New York Times
Tell us what you think about Blah Girls. Is Kutcher on to something or is he getting Punk’d?