The victory of Yammer (www.yammer.com), a copy of Twitter but with a business plan, at the TechCrunch50 last week has surprised me and raises important questions regarding the organization of the conference and possible conflicts of interest between start-ups and organizers of the event. It is rumored that the choice would have been broadly supportive of this West Hollywood based start-up through a close relationship with one of the sponsors of TC50 and Michael Arrington, co-founder of the event.
Yammer is a subsidiary of the company Geni (www.geni.com), which was started by David Sacks, former Paypal COO. Sacks's former boss, Peter Thiel, runs the venture capital firm Founders Funds and is a sponsor of TechCrunch50.
Journalist Thomas Owen affirms in an article that: "Arrington has long been rumored to favor startups backed by the VCs who sponsor his event." He concludes: "He brags that he does not care startups directly to appear on stage. But he seems to like to have them in his pocket, one way or another."
If you attended or followed TC50, which launching start-up would you have chosen to win the $50,000 winning prize?