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Today and tomorrow, I’m at the TechCrunch50 show in San Francisco. The show is basically Michael Arrington’s answer to the DEMO conference series in which companies get five minutes on stage to show off newly launched online products.

The difference is that unlike DEMO, companies don’t pay for stage time and are instead selected among hundreds of applicants. Fifty are chosen and grouped into categories (mobile, financial, youth technology, collaboration, etc.). The thought is that this eliminates the conflict inherent in giving companies exposure based on sponsorship rather than merit.

Makes sense, and so far there has been a good mix of early-stage companies. After presenting, each product is vetted for 10 minutes or so by a celebrity panel of judges consisting of journalists and tech leaders like Mark Cuban and Marc Andreessen. The always entertaining Jason Calacanis is the MC of some sessions.

The star-studded event also has included Ashton Kutcher, who presented his new gossip and news sites for teens, Blah Girls, yesterday. More to come soon from the show, and if you’re here and would like to meet up, send me an e-mail at If you’re not here, you can view a live stream of presentations here.

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