As TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco goes into day two, what becomes apparent to this blogger is TechCrunch blog founder Michael Arrington’s “departure” from the blog itself is, for all practical purposes, cosmetic. The famed “argument” between Arianna Huffington and Michael never really happened according to Huffington herself.
Michael’s just playing it all to look more like a spat than it really is. Even to the point of asking for a favor for an “unemployed blogger” from Digg and Milk founder, and Twitter investor Kevin Rose earlier today.
The point is, Arrington decreased his number of weekly TechCrunch blog posts long ago. It was not too many years ago that TechCrunch was mostly Michael Arrington; this “step away from AOL” as it happens, is the logical next step in the evolution of what he has done. Thus, it’s wrong to say that AOL totally fired Arrington. I was also wrong to call AOL “stupid” – as it happens, AOL’s starting to look pretty smart.
Forget Arrington v. AOL, It’s Startup Alley
So forget Arrington v. AOL – Mike’s fine and AOL’s fine. The real conversation is about the Startup Alley, the 200-plus group of tables hosting over 300 startups. And where the table population turns over each day. So the Monday Startup Alley is totally different than the Tuesday Startup Alley.
The way it works, the firms that get the most votes by visitors coming to their table presentations win a chance to be in the “Startup Battlefield” and win a chance to get up on the large main stage and give a formal presentation to the TechCrunch audience and to a set of judges. (And the tactics some entrepreneurs use to get votes, like offering cupcakes in the case of TimeView, described as “a service that lets you find and view waitlist times at restaurants,” are really funny.)
Plus, there are entrepreneurs walking around from TechCrunch Disrupt (and in some cases all the way back to TechCrunch 40 and TechCrunch 50), and a lot of really interesting companies, from TripTrotting and Shaker, to TimeView and Soul2Match. Here are some of my favorites:
TripTrotting.com. This service, created by Aigerim Duiseneyeva and Shana Zheng is a cross “between EHarmony and couch surfing.” It has already grown in such a fashion that users establish their own parties and events to meet other “TripTrotters.” Some of the gatherings have drawn over a thousand people.
Shaker is an exciting combination of Facebook and Second Life that’s totally addictive. The founders and their team (which include my good friend Sarah Austin and this blogger was in the TechCrunch presentation) say that Shaker puts the “social in social networking.” Frankly, that’s not an understatement. While it’s in private beta at http://www.atshaker.com/, what you will see is a giant, bar-equipped lounge with a view, and atop what appears to be a skyscraper condo. As you walk around, you can engage with other Facebook users (seeing their attributes and profile) or just hang out and so stupid things like dance on the bar. The potential for Shaker is, in a word, huge.
Using Tout, here’s a stream that includes all of the videos about many startups here at TechCrunch Disrupt: