Jason Calacanis sues Mike Arrington over TechCrunch50 conference


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There’s no love lost between Jason Calacanis and Mike Arrington, arguably two of the most visible players in the fast-moving world of technology start-ups.

So it may come as no surprise to some that Calacanis, chief executive of the Mahalo search engine based in Santa Monica, on Monday announced in an e-mail he has filed a lawsuit against Arrington over TechCrunch 50, a San Francisco technology conference that Calacanis alleges the two erstwhile business partners jointly own.


Arrington in September sold his blog, TechCrunch, along with the conference, to AOL for an estimated $25 million to $40 million.

Arrington hinted in a post on his blog two weeks ago that Calacanis threatened to sue over ownership of TechCrunch 50, which was at one point a prestigious venue for start-ups to present their companies. Arrington this year renamed the conference TechCrunch Disrupt.

The mud-slinging has been messy thus far. In his Nov. 3 post, Arrington accused Calacanis of being ‘so drunk the night before the last day of the 2008 conference that he couldn’t show up to be on stage until hours after the event started.’ Ironically, Arrington’s post also responded to rumors about him being addicted to prescription medication.

Is this fight just a tempest in a high-tech teapot?

Perhaps. Calacanis is betting that it’s more than just unpleasant words fired over the Internet. In the same e-mail in which he announced his lawsuit, Calacanis said he’s starting his own conference for start-ups seeking funding. Dubbed Launch, Calacanis promised ‘Dramatically lower ticket prices’ than TechCrunch and ‘No Boring Panels, No Immature Distractions.’

There will be plenty of that in the lawsuit.


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-- Alex Pham

Top photo: Jason Calacanis. Credit: Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times. Botton photo: Mike Arrington. Credit: Randy Lynn Beach / Los Angeles Times.