Let’s get this out of the way: TechCrunch50 2009 is what I think of when I think of the term “raising the bar”.
Ignoring for a moment the +130 startup companies, the sheer spectacle of being in the thick of the most covered and insular luminaries in the trade, the insanely great demos, the free cupcakes, baseball bats, and bathrooms like those found in the movie Trainspotting — yes ignore all of that.
Instead, focus on this fact:
Everyone seated in the audience at tables had dedicated individual 100Mbps full duplex Ethernet drops running to them in addition their own power strip. Everyone had rock solid WiFi connection picking up their iPhone and other connection hungry pocket device or those with laptops not wanting to drink from the sweet vine of wired Ethernet.
Yes. That’s right. Everyone.
Yes. That’s right. Hundreds of Ethernet drops, AP’s, and what reflects meticulous planning and attention to detail.
Oh, and there was no skimping on the speed either.
Care to guess what this might have cost? (Leave a comment below…)
You see, I attend a lot of tech conferences that are telecom and technology focused. Sometimes I speak at them on panels or alone on a stage. I’ve worked a bunch of them too. I’ve done trade show booths, Internet email kiosks, hotspots – all that. To get that kind of thing to work I’ve had to encounter venue exclusive data services, outsourced venue data services, Ethernet of every flavor and hiccup prone switching fabric imaginable, etc… heck, even ISDN – and that goes back to 1997 for Internet World in NYC. And the one universal fact concerning Internet access at trade events is that it typically sucks. That’s a technical term by the way. Feel free to drop it in conversations with network engineers.
As such, when a conference delivers the absolute best Internet experience I’ve ever had this year  and years prior – I have to give major props:
The TechCrunch50 team delivered that experience. They picked an outstanding vendor solution service mix and the delivery was flawless.
You see, it wasn’t just the speed or the way it was done. It was the way it was handled from end to end, soup to nuts, cradle to grave. Operational excellence. Yes, the Internet service was so over the top that I can only relay it best with an anecdote.
Day 1 of TC50 was amazing and as a working consultant I found myself using the time between stage changes to work on client needs. When Day 2 of TC50 arrived I was excited to have this flexibility as well. Imagine my horror when I noticed my gateway was not responding. Compounding this horror, the fearful popup of another machine MAC address appearing to already have my DHCP assigned IP address.
No worries. One of the numerous floor IT experts came over when I raised my hand. He whipped out his LAN tester and determined the switch had cycled power and disconnected my row before my lease expired. He fixed this within 3 minutes. I unplugged, plugged back in again – and all was right in the world of connectivity. This happened again 10 minutes later – undaunted the same man in black came over and performed a similar set of steps and promised “this won’t happen again”. True to his word, the connection was perfect for the remainder of the conference.
For every tech conference that I attend from this point forward, TechCrunch50 is “raising the bar” of expectations on Internet connectivity, desktop and floor support, as well as generally just going 100% all out with no apologies or reservations.
Kudos I say. Kudos!!
So which tech event or trade show is going to top TechCrunch50?
Update: Links and logos added to vendors of merit
 Indeed, SxSW 2009 is a close second for the BlogHaus (SxSW TechSet Blogger Lounge) selection of Time Warner Business services and slightly more spartan Ethernet drops and power strip availability