Producing Disruption with TechCrunch COO, Ned Desmond

Entrepreneurs love two things:

networking and competition.

This is why every weekend Silicon Valley has hackathons, conferences, demo pits, meetups, and panel discussions galore. None of these events pack every facet of startup culture into one event quite like TechCrunch does, however, at their annual TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.

Tickets top two grand and attendance clears 5,000 people, while most startup conferences weigh in at a few hundred attendees. TechCrunch combines everything entrepreneurs love: a grand hackathon, exhibiting startups from all over the world, star studded panel discussions, and their famed Startup Battlefield, where the top startups compete to be the next big thing for the entire years and $50,000.

Although the rest of America will be talking about the Startup Battlefield winner and their Virtual Reality Pavilion, little time is spent looking at the event itself. How can one put on the most notable startup event of the year? Luckily this tech blogger scored tickets to TechCrunch Disrupt SF and managed to network with Ned Desmond, the COO of TechCrunch himself. Get the scoop on how TechCrunch produces disruption straight from the source.

What did you do before TechCrunch? How did you become COO?

I ran the digital businesses at Time Inc. I was also founder of social media startup that failed.

What is your main job as COO of TechCrunch Disrupt? What does COO really mean?

Chief Operating Officer. I am responsible for the business [side of things- read: not editorial] and answer to AOL [which acquired TechCrunch for $25-$40 million in 2010].

When do you start planning the next TechCrunch Disrupt? In general, what is the planning process?

We are pretty much always working on the next Disrupt. We currently do them three times a year.

How do all the TechCrunch Disrupt’s vary from each other around the world?

Same format, same approach, but local flavor. So more speakers from the east coast when we are in NYC, for example. But they are all pretty international.

How many employees does it take to produce TechCrunch Disrupt SF?

All of them [250 employees listed on crunchbase]. Everyone has a role.

What is the most difficult thing about producing TechCrunch Disrupt?

There are many moving parts, and many success metrics. It’s hard to orchestrate them all.

To you, what is at the heart of TechCrunch Disrupt? How is it different than LaunchFest, Startup Grind, and other startup conferences?

1. Media reach: TechCrunch Disrupt is the only tech event that is tied to a media company with extensive reach online. Our video and reporting from the show reaches millions of viewers, in addition to those present at the show.  

2. Editorial Integrity: TechCrunch’s onstage interviews are editorial — they are conducted by editors who ask whatever they want. There are no “paid” sessions on stage.

3. Startup oriented: Our Battlefield startup competition provides 15-25 companies (selected from 500-1000 applicants) coaching, onstage pitching to world class judges, and huge media and investor attention. We do that all for nothing — we take no needs, equity or anything. As you can see here, the results are tremendous for startups:

4. Well run: Our shows are run by a very experienced team, and participants appreciate that we’re usually on time and very buttoned up.

For startups seeking to be apart of TC Disrupt, what is the selection process and how can they stand out?

What tech trends do you think are here to stay? Which ones are changing the world?

Mobile is very important. Data-driven everything.

Do you have any advice for those who love running ops on how to be successful?

Build a great team that you trust and are no less committed than you are.

Learn more about Ned Desmond by visiting Techcrunch.