TED -- an annual high tech event in Monterey run by Chris Anderson (the one who started Business 2.0 not the one who is editor of Wired magazine) -- decided to up the ante for attendees. For a mere $6 K, one might get into the main conference hall of the conference....if you are one of the first 300 to sign up and fork over your cash. Of course, for $12K, you'll be guaranteed entrance to the main hall even before anyone else (those low-paying $6K-ers) get in. And for $100K, you won't have to worry about getting into the main hall for the next ten years, and although you won't be earning any interest of your "contribution," you also won't have to worry about having to mingle with hoi polloi.
Yesterday, Jason Calcanis and Michael Arrington announced they are putting on a new product showcase conference this fall called TechCrunch 20 and are looking for a public institution to grant them a venue so they don't have to charge exhibitors $20K to participate (as does DEMO, a conference that showcases high tech products).
My friend Dave Winer put on a conference called Bloggercon last year for about $5,000: "It cost me less to do Bloggercon than for one person to get into TED," he says.
I guess for those with cash to spare who want to see the folks who have already made it , TED and O'Reilly's Web 2.0 are the places to go. You'll get to meet folks just like you. For everyone else -- those still working in the garage and embracing new ideas -- welcome to TechCrunch20.