A few hours in TechCrunch 40's hallway

Renee Blodget holds court in the hallway

I never even got into see a presentation. The hallway was too good. Here’s my photos. Damn, I love my Canon 5D camera (thank you Maryam!). Imagine how good my images will be after I learn how to use it. Thomas Hawk or Scott Beale don’t need to worry about losing their status as best Web 2.0 photographers anytime soon. Hah.

I got a demo of Mint and it lives up to the hype someone gave it in my comment section this morning. Nice way to look at and manage your personal finances. Cubic Telecom did live up to the hype, too. I gotta get some of those phones for Maryam’s family in Iran. She pays so much for her mom to call back home.

There’s plenty of chatter over on TechMeme — I’m not going to try to live blog conferences anymore, it’s a thankless task and one that’s best left to people who actually like sitting in the halls. Me? I’m a hallway rat. CenterNetworks’ Allen Stern has a good wrapup and links to a few of the best posts..

Oh, anyone want to be on the ScobleShow? I’ll be hanging out in Half Moon Bay and have a few extra hours this week to do some interviews. Family is here, so it’s good to get out of the house.

Finally, in that picture above is Renee Blodgett, holding the camera. If you can identify all the other people in the picture you’ll be ready for some hallway networking at tech conferences in the future. Hint: a famous journalist/blogger, a wife of one of TechCrunch 40′s co-founders, and a famous lawblogger is there.

Utterz: like Twitter but with audio/video

I’m in serious social networking fatigue. Or maybe that’s the overnight fatigue kicking in cause Milan woke up three times.

Here’s another Twitter competitor: Utterz.

Except it’s like Twitter with TwitterGram with a decent UI.

Here’s the condundrum: if a service has better features than Twitter but your friends aren’t on it, is it any good?

No.

Translation: I’m not trying out new social networks anymore until at least 100 people ask me to join.

Sorry to be so rude, but the bar has gone up. The window has closed. Yada yada yada.

Oh, I’m sneaking out of the house to go to TechCrunch 40 for a few hours. Don’t tell Maryam! :-)

Are "demo shows" really free for anyone?

I’m seeing a LOT of hype about TechCrunch 40 being free for companies to demo at. Eric Norlin repeats that, for instance, on his blog.

That just isn’t true, if you look at it the right way.

Most companies I know are bringing five people to a show like TechCrunch 40 or Demo (which is next week). Shel Israel, in an interview that’ll be up this week on ScobleShow, told me that he recommends startups bring EVERYONE to shows like Demo or TC40 (everyone being someone involved in building the product/service, not support staff like secretaries or janitors). Why? Because the hallways is where the real networking is done and where the real stories get written about companies. If you have five people at a conference like this you’ll have five times more opportunities to get a hallway discussion started that’ll lead to a major blog post or an article in the New York Times (I’m writing a column for Fast Company and am already including at least one company from TechCrunch 40 in it, for instance).

At TechCrunch 40 those people need to buy a ticket. So that’s far from “free.”

Plus, many companies that are coming from outside of San Francisco region need to pay the travel, hotel, and meal costs. That’s not insignificant.

Even people who get in free (and there are always some of those) need to take time away from other things that are important and/or cover travel costs. That’s hardly “free” in my book.

So, what’s the most “free” for both attendees and demoing companies?

How about ScobleShow.com? I’ve had hundreds of companies on my show in less than a year. Far more than you’ll see at Demo or at TC40. Yet none of them, other than Seagate, paid to be there.

Also, no one at home pays to watch those demos and you don’t even need to travel to see them.

So, Eric, you’ve already got your “free for all” demo show! Even better, if someone gets boring you just turn them off!

Oh, and I patterned my demos after Chris Shipley’s Demo. No PowerPoints. Short demos (most of my demos are less than 10 minutes).

Every single company that’s been on my show should say thanks to Seagate. That’s the model for making a “free for everyone” demo show.

Who will win TechCrunch 40?

Part of the fun of the next two days will be seeing who’ll win the $50,000 at TechCrunch 40, which starts in a few hours here in San Francisco.

I’ve asked a few of my friends and the early hype goes to Cubic Telecom, a company from Ireland headed by Pat Phelan. Several of my friends say that they are the ones to watch — their demo is on Tuesday (makes international calling, and traveling with a cell phone overseas, better than before, my friends say). Formerly known as “Roam4free.”

The problem is no one who has seen all these companies’ new offerings is talking (the companies are under strict embargoes not to show anyone their stuff outside of NDA land), so we’ve gotta do some triangulation to figure out who’ll be the best (which also makes this, at best, an educated guess at what will win).

Why try to pick a winner before you know? Well, that gives you some context. You go check out the company that’s getting the early hype from your friends (they usually are right, by the way) then you compare everyone else to that company. If you find a company that’s better than that one you have a story.

So, how about it — which company is better than Cubic Telecom?

Oh, and I love that the early favorite doesn’t come from Silicon Valley. I bet if Cubic Telecom wins Ireland’s best tech blogger, Tom Raftery, will have a big party.

From TechCrunch's backyard: new BlogTalkRadio launches

I’ve given up trying to compete with Mike Arrington. Instead I learned it’s easier just to hang out in his house and interview companies. Seriously. Here’s an interview I did there with BlogTalkRadio’s CEO, Alan Levy.

They just launched a bunch of new features and he tells me the inside scoop.

What’s funny is that Dave Winer called me in the middle of this interview (he had no idea I was doing it). That added some levity because Dave Winer worked with BlogTalkRadio to build TwitterGram.

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