PeHUB's Deborah Gage, the network is asking its chapters to disregard presentation charges for companies with less than $500,000 in capital and for those trying to raise less than $500,000 from investors.After tech heavy hitters like Jason Calacanis, Robert Scoble and Fred Wilson expressed public outrage over its pay-to-play fees, the Keiretsu Forum has begun waiving fees for early-stage startup presentations. According to
ReadWriteWeb covered the uproar Jason Calacanis caused when he spoke out against pay-to-pitch VC presentations. Said Calacanis, "It's low-class, inappropriate and predatory for a rich person to ask an entrepreneur to PAY THEM for 15 minutes of their time."In early October
Since then the vocal entrepreneur/investor has been publicly outing organizations with pay-to-play presentation models. Recently he called on startup companies to boycott events like New York's Venture Summit and AlwaysOn's Venture Summit Silicon Valley. Both events charge startups as presentation sponsors before they can demo to attendees. To counter these events, Calacanis even promised to "launch competing, fee-free events directly opposite [these pay-to-play] events."
Meanwhile, Keiretsu Forum user Steve Bell points to demo costs on Calacanis' TechCrunch 50 floor as an example of the same pay-to-pitch tactics that the entrepreneur is rallying against. Having looked at the argument, we're unsure whether these fees can be classified as presentation fees or merely sponsorships. Perhaps this is where the ethical lines become really blurry: Because most tech events offset the cost of production with sponsorships, at what point do we draw the line between sponsor presentations and pay-to-pitch demos?