VIEW THE GALLERY:See past innovators of the week.
If it’s Friday, that means it’s time for the Innovator of the Week — our weekly series that allows you to place your vote in our 100 percent non-scientific poll for the week’s greater innovator.
This week bore witness to two high-profile technology conferences at which a number of aspiring entrepreneurs presented their latest inventions. That’s right, we’re pitting TechCrunch’s Disrupt 2011 conference against Demo 2011.
In the interest of full disclosure, the Washington Post has a content sharing agreement with TechCrunch. And, did we mention this is an entirely non-scientific poll?
Demo 2011: The 21-year old conference is described as “the world’s leading launch conference for emerging technologies.” During the event, each company is given six minutes to present its latest product and, according to the organizers, “demonstrate how their product will change the world.” PowerPoints and “flashy corporate presentations” are forbidden, and only the company founders and their technology are allowed to take the stage.
In addition to the main stage, there is a “demonstrator pavilion,” which gives each company “a level playing field” by not allowing any company to have a larger (or smaller) booth than another. And, according to Demo’s organizers, “there is no bad spot on the floor.” This means that, unlike other conferences, there are no flashy demonstrations allowed and no large corporate signage. But Demo has some of the trappings of an old-school conference, with the requisite networking sessions, a “CEO & Dealmakers dinner,” “Jam Session,” and awards show. And, if you’re wondering whether Demo is connected to a high-profile technology publication, Demo’s executive producer is VentureBeat editor and CEO Matt Marshall.
But, enough about what goes into Demo. What came out of Demo this year?
The first day of the conference was all about cloud computing, consumer technology and enterprise, while day two focused on social media as well as mobile technology and applications. You can see a list of some of the new products launched on Demo’s Web site. Among the products introduced were the customer loyalty mobile application Looping, the job finding platform JobOn, and the social media analytics platform Social Bakers.
The conference also included the first Mega Startup Weekend, a partnership between Demo’s Startup Weekend and the Startup America Partnership. A 54-hour event sponsored by the Kaufman Foundation, the Mega Startup weekend featured developers, graphics designers and business leaders focused on creating web and mobile applications that could “form the basis of a credible business.”
TechCrunch Disrupt: The conference convened between Sept. 12-14 — exactly overlapping the Demo gathering — and featured a number of “fireside chats” with the who’s-who of Silicon Valley, including Greylock Partners Reid Hoffman, actor and investor Ashton Kutcher, and Founders Fund’s Peter Thiel and Yelp’s Max Levchin, among others. Aside from the conversations with the Valley’s heavy-hitters, Disrupt features the Startup Battlefield, a Hackathon and “Office Hours” with Y-Combinator’s Paul Graham and Harj Taggar.
The conference was disrupted (pun intended) somewhat by the announcement that TechCrunch founder and “serial entrepreneur” Michael Arrington would be leaving the company. But that didn’t stop the conference from hosting, among others, 31 start-ups in the “Battlefield” competition for the TechCrunch Disrupt Cup and $50,000 prize. Ultimately, the Tel Aviv-based start-up Shaker won. Shaker, according to the Post’s TechCrunch review, combines your social graph in Facebook with features similar to Turntable.fm, The Sims and Second Life. The application, essentially, takes Facebook and turns your interactions with others, via an avatar, into an experience similar to hanging out at a bar.
Both Demo and TechCrunch Disrupt are similar in many ways and distinct in others. Each provide an opportunity for start-ups to showcase thier latest inventions, while giving attendees an opportunity to rub elbows with deep-pocketed VCs. But which conference is more innovative? That, we leave to you.
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