I've been attending the DEMO conference since I joined the venture business. Even during the slow years of the early 2000's DEMO maintained an energy and excitement replicated in few tech gatherings. And as the tech economy has strengthened, DEMO has returned to the vibrant gathering it was in the late '90s. This year was DEMO's 15th anniversary, which it celebrated by honoring tech visionaries of past and present DEMOs (folks like Dan Bricklin, Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins, and Ben and Mena Trott). The conference collected its traditional mix of exceptional entrepreneurs, the nation's top tech journalists, and a gaggle of venture capitalists from throughout the country, making it one of my "must attend" conferences of the year.
It is this very mix of entrepreneurs, journalists and VCs that makes DEMO such a successful conference each year. Great entrepreneurs vie for six minutes on the DEMO stage in hopes of garnering attention from the press and investors (Jeff Hawkins told the story last night of insisting upon launching the Palm Pilot at DEMO rather than CES). VCs attend DEMO not only in hopes of finding potential investments but in an effort to spot interesting trends in the industry and to spend time with those great entrepreneurs who will continue to innovate for decades to come. Journalists come to DEMO because they get great stories year in and year out -- if a new product can shine in a 6 minute demo, it will make a great story for the national press. As a result of these symbiotic relationships, DEMO continues to thrive after 15 years of ups and downs in the tech economy.
My hats off to Stewart Alsop, the father of DEMO, and Chris Shipley in whose able hands DEMO has continued to thrive. I look forward to DEMOfall.