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You can slow the economy, but you can't keep the dot-com crowd from networking. And evidently you can't keep Silicon Alley Reporter magazine and its parent company, Rising Tide Studios, from throwing some of the flashiest, most hyped events in New York's Internet industry. In its fifth year, the company's Silicon Alley conference and trade show still packed in the digerati, even if the show didn't have all the buzz or glam decor touches of previous years.
As with past conferences, Jason McCabe Calacanis, the magazine's well-publicized editor, and Xeni Jardin, Rising Tide's vice president of conferences, put together a diverse roster of speakers, including The New Yorker's Ken Auletta, digital guru Esther Dyson, Primedia's Tom Rogers, Oxygen Media founder Geraldine Laybourne, hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, TheStreet.com's Jim Cramer and Requiem for a Dream director Darren Aronofsky. The conference also incorporated networking events including a pre-conference dinner at F. Illi Ponte on Tuesday, a cocktail party at America on Wednesday and a dinner at Candela on Thursday.
Rising Tide's event producer, Jamie Calacanis, used Metropolitan Pavilion's retractable wall to bisect the venue's vast space. One area became an auditorium space, where attendees listened to the speakers. KVL Audio Visual, which provided the audio visual services for the event, projected live video of the speakers on two large screens on each side of the stage, which helped attendees at the back of the long room see the stage.
On the other side of the wall was a trade show area. Between the aisles of vendor booths were tables and chairs, where attendees sat during the lunch and breakfast breaks, perhaps making them more likely to check out the companies at the show. (There was no escape from the marketing pitches--even the rest rooms had a sponsor, L90, who put signage up on the mirrors and stalls. The most aggressive pitch: Branded plastic drain covers in the urinals saying, “Don't piss away your profits.")
The conference was catered by Rising Tide's executive chef, Donald Penza, who works on all of their events. Lunch on the first day included salmon, mixed greens and tabouli. (This isn't a turkey sandwich kind of event.)