I spent today at the Web 2.0 Expo and am just stunned at the scale and scope of the event. Let me make one observation to start -- the venue of an event really makes a difference. It sets the tone of the event and sets the stage for the sorts of interactions you are likely to have. So the mere fact that the Web 2.0 Expo is at the Moscone Center says a lot. There are conference center events (Expo, SXSW), there are big hotel events (Etech, Demo), there are fancy hotel events (D: All Things Digital), and there are theater events (TED, Poptech). Each one has a different feel. No one is inherently good or bad. It simply sets the expectations for the conference that is to follow. As you can imagine that there is a different vibe in a fancy hotel conference than in a conference center event.
I took part in a panel today called "Venture Capital 2.0: Bright Future or Broken Forever." It was moderated by Mike Arrington and included some good friends from the investment biz, including Josh Kopelman and Jeff Clavier. It was one of the larger audiences I've spoken in front of before -- I'm guessing there were as many as 800 people in the room. Crazy. Mike tried hard to get the traditional VCs (me included) to fight with the angel guys (Josh and Jeff). His thesis was that angel investors will ultimately get all of the returns because there is so little money required to build a big internet business these days. While it isn't an unreasonable assertion, I obviously disagree whole heartedly. As I've said before, while it is certainly the case that it takes less money for a web startup to demonstrate traction, I believe it still takes significant capital for a successful internet startup to scale. Nonetheless, the entertainment value was high (which was likely Mike's real intention). And we had a great time agreeing with each other and disagreeing with Mike.
Speaking of entertaining, Mike took some time out of our panel to shamelessly plug his new conference, the TechCruch20. The idea behind the conference is to gather some of the most interesting new startups and products, and have them critiqued by a group of smart, entertaining and often-times controversial tech experts. He's already lined up Marc Andreessen, Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine), Mark Cuban, Dave Winer, and, of course, himself and Jason Calacanis (with whom he is organizing the event). The TechCrunch20 is going to take place at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco on September 17th and 18th. I have no doubt that it will be a really entertaining event and look forward to attending. If you're interested in attending as well, I strongly recommend you register sooner rather than later because the conference is already well on its way to sold out (here's a LINK to the official TechCrunch20 website).