The founder of the GigaOm blog network isn't one of those guys who just wants to write, write, write. Om Malik, who reported on Valley VCs for Red Herring and Forbes in the '90s, is now on his second stint as a venture capitalist. His announcement this morning of a $4.5 million round of investment led by Palo Alto-based Alloy Ventures isn't aimed at readers, but at competing blog businessmen — specifically TechCrunch owner Mike Arrington. Malik's message: Kiss your dreams of owning me goodbye.Arrington headlined his own post about the news "GigaOm ignores my advice," linking to a long, telling post from earlier this year in which he attempted to explain why blogs should remain financially independent. What he really means is: GigaOm shouldn't take VC because TechCrunch is the only blog that's supposed to get VC, so Arrington can buy his competitors. Arrington has said publicly that he wants to be the one to consolidate the blogging sector into one big Voltron-like online publishing empire. When he wrote this morning that "we are one of the last large blog networks to remain independent," he probably wasn't intentionally lying. But his Web-2.0-centric worldview ignores bigger non-tech networks such as the local Sugar Publishing and the British Shiny Media. By taking on five million dollars in further investments, Malik hasn't just picked up capital to expand his staff and marketing. Like a pufferfish circled by sharks, he's made GigaOm a much bigger ball for Arrington or anyone else to try to swallow. (Photo by Brian Solis)
Techcrunch's Mike Arrington — who has never claimed to be a "golden fountain of objectivity" — recently partnered with Jason Calacanis to launch the Techcrunch20 demo conference. The idea is to break out of the paid-demo conference mold and give space to startups based purely on merit. However, there's no reason to throw the cash-baby out with the payola-bathwater for other events.The Supernova conference — produced by the Wharton School — also selects its 12 Techcrunch-sponsored "Connected Innovators" based on merit. Of course, the winners must be prepared to cough up $5,000 in order to accept the honor and make their presentation; that's in addition to the $2,000+ conference fee, though if you're so inclined, you can bundle your $5K fee in with some slick conference sponsorships for yet more money. Note that winners get three (presumably laudatory) posts on Techcrunch as part of the deal, in addition to related conference coverage. None of this is improper or even unusual as far as conferences go. If nothing else, it illustrates that the charitable instincts of the Techcrunch20 event will not be copied elsewhere unless some serious insta-cash blows out of the demos at the freebie conference.
MEGAN MCCARTHY — The CommunityNext conference opening night open bar at Blue Chalk Cafe was far more entertaining than most of the dry, posh networking events held in the Valley. Noah Kagan of Entrepreneur27 put together the conference to focus on "successful online communities and social networks" and, with conference topics including "How to monetize with ads and not piss off your audience" and "The Patent-Pending skinnyCorp Method for Creating Online Awesomeness and Other Cool Stuff", one would expect a fun-filled opening night. Photographer Lane Hartwell accompanied me to the event last Friday night in Palo Alto. Check our full gallery, and hit the jump for more details and a few select snaps.
So, who was there? Unfortunately, Fark's Drew Curtis, a speaker at the conference and the one guy I wanted to meet, wasn't flying in until the next day. So I missed my chance to have a beer with the king of the Farkers. Boo. I spied Techcrunch guru and Valleywag fan Mike Arrington, who politely asked Lane to refrain from taking his picture. He was much kinder to me, shelling out for tequila shots when we both ran out of drink tickets. (For the record: Patron, no salt, no lime.)
As the night went on, the venue opened up to the general public. Suddenly, there were girls! And dancing! And then, commotion. It's a barfight! Two of the infiltrating inebriates started shoving each other by the stairs, while a group of peaceful conference attendees surrounded them and gawked. Among the venue's biggest hits were the LEDs imprisoned in ice cubes, which even now may be making their way through the intestinal tracts of recently inebriated youngsters.
PAUL BOUTIN — Greetings from Atherton, the billonaire bedroom community hidden between Woodside, Menlo Park and Redwood City. Despite its A-list of high-rolling residents including Google CEO Eric Schmidt and brokerage king Charles Schwab, Atherton keeps such a low profile that many Valley residents still haven't heard of it.