Today, November 15th, 2010 Jason Calacanis officially announced in his JasonNation.com e-mail list that he is taking TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington to court over the now defunct TechCrunch50 conference. Calacanis writes that the conference, which the two worked on together for 3 years, was his idea and that AOL purchased it as part of their deal for TechCrunch but Calacanis was never paid.
Calacanis accuses Arrington of re-branding the TechCrunch 50 as TechCrunch Disrupt, which has had huge success and launched start-ups such as Soluto, Mint, Powerset, FitBit and Yammer. Arrington, who is a lawyer insisted that he and Calacanis never sign a contract for the TechCrunch50, despite Calacanis’ wishes to do so. The two have been name calling and duking it out online over the past several months. Earlier this month, Arrington wrote a piece on TechCrunch calling Calacanis “unbalanced and dictatorial.”
But while he and Arrington battle it out in court, Calacanis is channeling the rest of his energy into a “bigger, better and more start-up-centric conference” called “LAUNCH,” which will take place in the same venue as TechCrunch50 did in San Francisco on February 23rd and 24th 2010. We recently reported on Calacanis’ conference and how it might compete with Disrupt, but he has now laid out many of its details for the public promising multiple forms of funding and a cheaper ticket cost.
Calacanis promises LAUNCH, which will feature around 50 startups, will be the most affordable, high-end technology event in the world. Bootstrapped startups, those with less than $1 million in investment and less than 10 staff, will pay only $400 to cover costs while everyone else, including lawyers, VCs, angels and more established companies will pay only $1,000, which is much lower than the $4,000-$7,000 price tags of conferences like TED.
“I want to keep leveling the playing field and fighting for the little guy.”
LAUNCH will have two competitions: 1.0 for new companies and 2.0 for existing companies “with epic new products.” Start-ups will be able to receive funding through 3 different ways, including a $1 million “Angel Grand Jury,” essentially 12 high-profile angel investors to coach the companies before and after the event, and potentially invest in the companies presenting. According to Calacanis, each angel must “commit on the spot (pending due diligence and negotiating deal terms) to investing between $50-250k in the companies they love most at LAUNCH.” The day will finish with a 75-minute round table for the Jury to discuss the companies. Profits from the event will be reinvested into the startups, so Calacanis will be personally funding many of the start-ups. Lastly, he believes that hundreds of investors in the audience will also be funding the start-ups.
Further details of the conference can be found here.