Tech in Asia doesn’t sell stage time in a conference. Deal with it



Tech in Asia is in the business of media and events. Often, our business development team talks to potential sponsors and advertisers to seek financial support so we can pay our bills. It’s tough. In fact, any kind of sales is tough. Try selling something to someone and you will understand.

But what we find more difficult to grasp is that some people don’t quite understand how media works. When we talk sponsorships, some potential clients assume they get to speak.

Sorry to say, it doesn’t work this way. Event organizers shouldn’t be selling their stage time and sponsors shouldn’t assume they can broadcast and sell their products on stage.

That’s because for any media company, maintaining the audience’s trust and serving their needs is always the first priority.

For sponsors, if you really do want to speak, suggest great topics to the event organizer. Your time on stage must add value for the audience and should not be centered on yourself or your products. If you’re selling rather than sharing, the audience will know and it’s detrimental to both your brand and the conference’s. Trust me, if you’re sharing something that is really useful on stage, your personal and corporate branding will stick with the audience.


Here’s another train of thought: If you’re paying to speak, then you’re probably not that great. Speakers at a good conference are chosen based on their knowledge, industry credentials, and oratory skills, not based on who paid for the privilege. Event organizers who sell their speaking slots are doing their audience a disservice. And if you really really have to sell stage time, at least have the decency to disclose it is a paid speaking gig.

The audience has the right to know.

We believe that the final gatekeeper for conference content should be a content team who puts it together ethically, without any influence from the sales team. At Tech in Asia, our content and business development teams function separately. Of course, through meeting potential sponsors, our business development team will sometimes come across potential speakers whom they will recommend to the content team. But the content team makes the final decisions. We have always functioned this way, both for our online media properties and events.

To us, our audience always comes first, period. We do understand that this concept may be hard to grasp, especially in Asia. It isn’t because we hate money. We love it. But we value our audience more. Without our readers and the folks who have continuously supported our sites and conferences, we wouldn’t have come this far. We wouldn’t be able to continue doing what we love and accomplish our mission. So it just doesn’t make sense to screw up this relationship by selling stage time at our conferences.

We hope you understand.

Editing by Terence Lee
(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)
Tech in Asia is a startup platform company.
Willis Wee
March 2011
Latest funding
$4,000,000 / Series C / East Ventures, Fenox Venture Capital, Eduardo Saverin, Walden International, Simile Venture Partners, M&S Partners, SB ISAT, Marvelstone, Andrew James Solimine

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