The big news in Silicon Valley this week is that after 13 years, Chris Shipley will be stepping down as the executive producer of the highly esteemed DEMO conference. This has been a well thought out decision by Chris, who many ANZA TechNet members know from her involvement in our programs. Chris is one of the leading tech analysts in the world. For the past few years she’s also been the CEO of the Guidewire Group, a firm focused on early-stage and emerging companies, along with running the twice-a-year DEMO shows.
VentureBeat will be taking over where Chris leaves off, and for the rest of this year, VentureBeat’s publisher Matt Marshall will serve as co-producer of DEMO ’09 (next month) and DEMOfall (in September) alongside Chris. This is a win-win for everybody – Chris, Matt and VentureBeat and IDG — the company that owns the DEMO conference and brand. Most importantly, innovative start-up entrepreneurs the world over will continue to shine in the spotlight, as they always have under Chris’ guidance, through this smooth transition period and into DEMO’s next era with Matt and VentureBeat.
Naturally, a few eyebrows were raised in the Valley over VentureBeat having such a role in the emerging start-up community. VentureBeat is, after all, one of the most successful online publications in the tech world. Couldn’t this cause a conflict of interest between DEMO’s well-known last-minute revelations about which companies have made the cut to present at its conferences and the journalistic coup of breaking a story? Matt Marshall says that VentureBeat will not cross these lines:
“We’ll be continuing the tradition of fair, equal treatment to all media. In other words, just because VentureBeat is helping produce DEMO doesn’t mean we’ll be breaking stories about the company launches before everyone else. We’ll live by the same rules everyone does.”
I personally commend Chris for the job she’s done with DEMO. More than a handful of ANZA companies have passed through the DEMO doors and it has always been exciting to work with these companies in the lead up to their “six minutes” on the DEMO stage. Chris has participated in the last several Gateway to the US summits to get a first look at what Australia has to offer – and we’re happy to say she’ll continue to be on hand for us in her new full-time role with the Guidewire Group. ANZA will also continue to put forward those who take part in our programs to DEMO. We’re as excited about these changes as all involved and wish everyone the best of luck in their new pursuits.