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Sarah Lacy Archive
I’ve been to several startup pitch conferences the last couple of Septembers. I’ve found them to be stuffy, way overpriced, and let’s not even talk about the controversy about who is in and who is out. On the long plane ride home each year I’ve sworn to make a better startup conference and today I am happy to announce the first step in a plan to make things right for startups.
The conference will be held on September 14-15, 2009 in San Francisco. The CN51 conference will be held at 634 Eighth Street – directly across the street from the beautiful San Francisco Design Center.
A press conference is scheduled for 2:30pm Pacific today and will be carried live here on CN.
The CN51 conference will bring together two of the hottest platforms and technologies today: Twitter and Facebook. Based on my top tech blog reading over the past months, it’s clear these are the only two services that matter. And I know that building on top of these two companies can put strength on top of strength. So all startups that present at CN51 must utilize one (or both) of these technologies. There won’t be any boring video chat or storage or classified services here.
As for the physical location of presenting startups, Loic Le Meur explained recently that almost nothing good comes from outside the Valley and Sarah Lacy told us in no uncertain terms that Israel is not creating valuable startups. We took this data into account when we decided what areas were acceptable and we are happy to announce that startups from anywhere except France and Houston are permitted to apply.
There are several other important criteria we have for companies that want to apply to demo at CN51.
- Cannot be a current advertiser
- Must not be related to a member of CenterNetworks
- Cannot have worked at some point at CenterNetworks
- Must have less than $5 million VC funding
- Cannot be venture capital reprsented by one of our venture capital sponsors
- Cannot have an investment from a founder of CenterNetworks
- Cannot be close friends with a staff member of CenterNetworks
If you are a company outside the Twitter or Facebook realm, you might want to apply for our "demo stands". Basically a demo stand will get get a 12" round table to setup your wares and market to people as the go into and exit the conference. We will provide one chair for the entire demo stand area and expect all of the companies to share the chair throughout the available times. A separate Internet line will be configured for optimal access – we at CN51 know how important it is to have Internet access to demo your products! One startup will be granted access to the main audience via the usage of bottle tops – whichever startup collects the most bottletops from attendees (we will be checking!) will win. Contact us to book a demo stand today!
What can you expect for your ticket price at CN51?
- Working Internet connections for the duration of the conference
- Good food and lots of it including cupcakes (that’s how you get on the default Twitter list yo!)
- The biggest celebs on Twitter and Facebook
- Media coverage from some of the top blogs and newspapers across the world including TwitterBeat and Facebookable
Who should attend CN51?
Anyone who is in the Internet industry – from marketing people to startup people to venture capitalists who want to see the hottest apps and startup to invest in. Also, each person on the Twitter default list is welcome to attend – we’ve created VIP seating for these folks and will provide limo service for them because, well they are special.
More large sponsors to be announced this month – contact us for sponsorship information.
Here’s how the press registrations will work. In late May we will be scheduling blood and retina testing. This will assure us that on the week before the conference we can give the information about the presenting startups to the right press people. Let me be very clear here — if you are granted one of our 850 press slots, you must agree to this testing. And if we find out that your outlet broke the embargo, then your retina and/or blood might be accidentally "spilled". Just do the right thing – even though I know some press outlets break embargoes all the time, those approved for CN51 will be held to the strictest liability.
I certainly hope you are as excited about CN51 as I am. It’s been months of planning, slaving over the specifications but I believe we have created one damn awesome startup conference. It’s going to be hot and you need to be in attendance!
I had a chat today with Amber on Twitter about what makes a good public speaker at a conference, seminar or event. She asked me for my thoughts on what makes a person a good public speaker. Check out my video below for the 3 main keys to good public speaking. If there’s interest, I would be happy to create more specific videos on tips and techniques on the topic. Small tweaks can provide great rewards when it comes to a presentation or speech.
Update: Chris Brogan has a look at the importance of being funny. Worth a read after you view the video below.
Sites referenced in the video:
Sarah Lacy appeared on Fox Business this evening on their "Happy Hour" show to promote her upcoming book. Host Cody Willard should stick to financial topics – whenever he crosses over to tech, it just doesn’t work. See our previous example for another example where Cody explains how Facebook’s Beacon works.
Sarah begins by defining Web 2.0 as, "basically the collection of companies that started around 2002-2005 and the hallmark is user-generated content, social media and social networking." She names Facebook and YouTube as Web 2.0 companies.
Then Cody shows his real intelligence by explaining that Web 2.0 is a "Ponzi scheme." Sarah tries to explain that none of the Web 2.0 companies have gone public and that’s why we will never be in a bubble.
Sarah then attempts to use her one line which she believes makes her look like an insider, "Facebook actually makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year." She’s used this line on every video/audio interview I’ve seen/heard lately.
Sarah tells Cody that LinkedIn is the next Web 2.0 company to be a success. Cody then replies with the following, "LinkedIn is a crappy site, no one is going to use LinkedIn." Sarah gets very loud in explaining that LinkedIn has the best business model on the Web today. I agree with her that LinkedIn is hot without being in the 250. Check out our LinkedIn coverage including Mark’s LinkedIn guide.
Overall Sarah comes across smart and knowledgeable in this very short interview. Great book placement behind her left shoulder – not sure she could have asked for a better placement!
Side note, I have purchased a tripod so videos should now always be nice and still. And this weekend the video card will be connected to the cable and future tv captures will be perfect. Thank you for your patronage.
I’ve been thinking recently about how the ability to go "live" may affect many careers. Using the Sarah Lacy/Mark Zuckerberg keynote as our example, I want to share some thoughts with you. Whether you are a blogger or an entrepreneur, the ability to recognize when you’ve screwed up is critical for success.
Unlike those watching from far away, I was actually there in the room, arrived nearly two hours early so I could sit in the front and get ready to live blog the event. I watched the room fill up, people standing along the sides, cropped down, chairs changed to couches and audio tests. The number of cameras snapping photos when Mark came out was simply amazing – in fact it seemed like a press conference with the number of photographers in the pit.
I was very much looking forward to the interview. I heard there would be no new news, so perhaps we could learn more about Facebook’s strategy and monetization plans. This was my second time watching Zuckerberg live; the first was at the half-interview, half-infomercial at TC40 where Zuckerberg announced fbFund.
The truth is that the interview was a disaster. We are past it now so let’s take a look at how it could have been handled better. And how Sarah could have saved face. Sarah was trying to win over the crowd at Mark’s expense. She made many condescending statements towards Mark throughout including her comment about his journals. I have a set of journals Sarah and Om Malik had a series of posts last year about his journals. In addition, Lacy kept repeating "Stahl moment", which was completely out of line. If you know your subject has x or y issue, then you work around it.
I am 100% certain that Sarah had no idea it was going downhill from minute 3. Had she realized what was going on, she would have changed course. I’ve heard reports that her live interview with Kevin Rose also didn’t go so well but I wasn’t there so I can’t comment.
When the crowd started to applaud when Mark said "you’ve got to ask questions" it was actually 45 minutes of growing displeasure with where the interview was moving. I wasn’t on Twitter as I was typing the live notes but I can assure you that the feeling was all around the room and 98% of the audience were not on Twitter. I am guessing that Sarah still didn’t realize what was going on and I absolutely feel horrible for her. Once she realized what was going on, she had two choices: act professionally or act like a young child who didn’t get her way. She chose the latter.
Her comments on stage including, "you try doing what im doing for a living, it’s not as easy as it looks" and "can someone email me and tell me why I sucked so bad", made the situation worse as she threw grease on the fire. When you are on stage and being heckled, just be professional and move on.
When she ran off stage after the keynote was over, she should have relaxed for a bit. After getting some air, she could have looked for feedback. Instead she ran to Twitter and said, "seriously screw all you guys. I did my best to ask a range of things." Not only did she piss off almost the entire audience during the event, she has just told me to fuck-off. Lacy’s Twitter statement makes me realize that I’ve just wasted three hours. These were hours that could have been spent out partying or at my friend’s session.
One of my mentors says, "perception equals reality". It doesn’t matter what’s right when people perceive something else is right. Before, during and after, Sarah had a variety of stopping points in which to change course and save face.
- When she realized that the audience wasn’t pleased and asked for Q/A, she could have just moved to it and not made the "woe is me" comments.
- She didn’t need to post on Twitter.
- She could have easily apologized to those who felt like they didn’t get their money’s worth from the interview.
- She could have posted a simple survey if she was really interested in feedback on what happened.
- When she was interviewed on camera that evening, she could have dropped the defensive bit and just made a simple statement about what happened and apologized.
- Lastly, before the event, she could have asked her readers what they would ask Mark. Instant winner with this one.
Brian Solis has posted a commentary on the situation including the following comment. "If you think she owes you an apology or needs to fall on the sword for her Q&A with Zuckerberg, don’t hold your breath. Sarah Lacy doesn’t need to apologize to anyone other than Mark." Wrong Brian, wrong. We were her customers and when your customers aren’t happy, you apologize and make it right. Customer is #1. Zuckerberg wasn’t the customer.
Here’s the net result and takeaway. When you screw up or your customers believe you have screwed up, apologize. And if you do apologize, mean it. It’s acceptable to admit when you make errors or miscalculations. What’s great about the Web is that we are all willing to help you back up. Just look at how many chances we’ve given Twitter.
As the world moves to "live", we all need a pause button. Blog attacks are so 2007. Today we have live Twitter attacks and outbursts. Who knows which attack or outburst might actually cause you to lose a deal, a client or worse? Keep thinking to yourself, "breathe before reply."
Sarah said on camera that the audience has ruined SXSW for ever getting a high level person again. I’d wonder if Sarah’s will get another chance at a keynote like the one at SXSW after her inability to apologize when her readers and viewers weren’t satisfied.
Sarah can still make it right. She could explain why the interview didn’t work and how she is working on changing for the future. I’d be interested in speaking with Sarah about her learnings, I am sure we could all benefit so we don’t make the same mistakes.