TechCrunch20 Now Live

While the startup-sphere was all knee-deep in DEMO coverage last January, TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington and Sequoia Capital EIA and Weblogs Inc cofounder Jason Calacanis talked up their plans to launch their conference TechCrunch20. Their idea is to bring together 20 new startups, which are chosen on merit alone, and don’t pay to present — “taking the payola out of DEMO-ing,” as Calacanis put it then.

Arrington tells us today that the site just went live, with more details about the event and the process. They are looking to talk to any startup that will be ready to launch or publicly demo by September 17, when the conference will start in San Francisco. The companies will be chosen by a panel of 20 experts, including GigaNet’s biased favorite Om. Arrington says the conference will charge for attendance and for sponsors, but that sponsors are not eligible to present a new startup.

Does the world need another American Idol-style pitch conference for startups? No, but the Valley does need a conference where the presenting companies don’t have to cross a huge financial hurdle to participate, but do have to cross a threshold of quality. Anyone who’s been to any of these launch conferences knows how unproductive they can be — hopefully TechCrunch20’s new model will be a better one. Good luck.