The Young and the (NOT!) So Reckless: TechCrunch50 Recap

I think it’s just as important in tech PR – if not more important – to be tuned into the pulse of the technology community as it is to craft a great pitch or write the perfect press release. One really fuels the other, even though our visibility into this dynamic community is often gained through obsessively reading our favorite blogs and picking up insights from the Twittersphere. So after zealously livestreaming TechCrunch50 for the last several years, I was happy to have the rare opportunity as a PR person to attend this year’s event here in San Francisco.

Some, such as Ariel Schwartz at Fast Company, called this year’s event downright somber. Others, including TechCrunch blogger Sarah Lacy, said the start-ups lacked passion.

Personally, I think a better adjective might be “responsible.” It was almost as if you could hear that paranoid friend from high school up there on the stage who, just when things were getting exciting, always chimed in, “Wait, couldn’t we get into trouble for that?” This could very well be attributed to the economic conditions over the last year. With less funding going around and all of us generally keeping our pocketbooks near and dear, taking huge risks is just, well, riskier.

Contrary to media opinion, I thought there were a few gems. I think secondary-market, ticket-price forecasting outfit, SeatGeek, has some real potential. No, it’s not a “game-changing” company, but I’m fairly positive we didn’t see any next Googles or Facebooks at the conference. And should that even be the goal? SeatGeek has a solid product on its hands, is already profitable and is targeting an untapped marketplace. Plus, judging by the concert and sports obsessed folks in my own social circle, the company may have just as well called itself “SeatFreak.” A built-in passionate user base never hurts.

Here’s SeatGeek’s presentation from the conference:

The overall winner was RedBeacon, a company that promises to find you local service providers at the drop of a hat. Someone to help make your house look immaculate for the in-laws, anyone?

It will be interesting to see what happens at next year’s event. The touch of recklessness in the start-up community and tech industry in general is what drew me to this business in the first place. Because if you’re going to play hooky and jump over the school fence despite your better judgment, you might as well go do something exciting.