The DEMO Spring 2010 conference ended today after three balmy days in Palm Desert, Calif. A total of 65 companies competed for the $1 million prize that was awarded tonight to eXaudios, which created call center software that could detect the emotional state of a caller based on the sound of the caller’s voice. But the conference wasn’t just about a Darwinian contest. Here’s a photo gallery that shows off some of the best sights and scenes of the event. The opening photo above captures Matt Marshall, editor-in-chief of VentureBeat and executive producer of DEMO, as he greeted the crowd on Monday morning on the big stage.

The opening night reception on Sunday was a great chance for entrepreneurs, journalists, investors, and other attendees to mingle at big bar in the center of the Desert Springs hotel.

Joshua Kerr of ABJK NewCo shattered the morning bliss as the first presenter at the conference. As he introduced the company’s Zosh platform for digital signatures, he made a point by noting that the fax machine would finally be put to rest.

Our fearless leader introduced the conference with a talk about disruption and the constant change of the tech industry. Matt Marshall was very serious, and he was thus a very poor substitute for Chris Shipley, who always made it a point to dance her way onto the stage. Just kidding. Matt showed his passion for entrepreneurship, and his compassion for entrepreneurs.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a real DEMO without Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg (right), caught chatting with Michael Miller, former editor of PC Magazine (current columnist) and now senior vice president for technology strategy at Ziff Brothers Investments. (I think they must be obsessing about Steve Jobs).

For a half hour of our pitiful existence, VentureBeat assistant editor Anthony Ha and I were able to work with our laptops at one of a number of swimming pools at the fine resort and spa. We were certainly better off than all of those poor slobs who were stuck inside the hotel conference room, but I am certain that the people swimming at the pool thought we were pathetic.

DEMO presenters will do anything to get attention. First the guy hit the fax machine with a baseball bat, and then Sol Tzvi, chief executive of Genieo, locked herself up in handcuffs. She blasted Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others and noted how users needed to be liberated from locked content.

Bruce D’Ambrosio talked about his Digital Scirocco Marketplace — a content monetization market — by describing the web page of his cat Punky. That prompted Rafe Needleman of Cnet to sent the tweet: “Ok, rule #1 for #Demo presenters: No pictures of your cat!” But in the cab ride to the airport, D’Ambrosio said that, love it or hate it, Punky got his company a ton of attention.

Have you ever seen so much raw media power in one place? The journalists attending DEMO can make or break companies, like Simon Cowell dissing singers on American Idol. Here, one crew of the powerful influencers dines at Guillermo’s restaurant.

Matt Marshall led a bunch of discussions with expert panels about the various industry segments where the startups participated. Here he discusses the market for consumer technology with Chi-Hua Chien at Kleiner Perkins, Robert Davis at Highland Capital Partners, Michael Jones of Google, and Phil Sanderson of IDG Ventures.
The DEMO pit was a great place to get up-close-and personal with all of the presenters. Here, Parag Sheth, founder of Hillcrest Labs, shows off the Kylo TV web browser and a navigation wheel you can use to quickly browse through web sites on your TV set, withou a mouse or a remote control.

You have to got to love the hardware guys who show up at DEMO with a weird contraption. Here, Greg Nygaad of Li’l Magic shows off a system that can be used to optically recognize all of the loose hardware parts — such as chrome or stainless steel screws that have different prices — that are tough for hardware stores to price and process at the cash register.
Jermaine Kelly, chief executive of Immitter, was one of the Alpha Pitch presenters. These folks were earlier stage companies that had to describe their companies in just 90 seconds. Kelly talked about how Immitter helped indie music fans and artists discover each other by combining features of Pandora, user-generated content on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

Alon Goren had one of the brightest ideas at DEMO. His company, Invested.in, allows you to leverage your social networks to raise capital for any reason. Goren took the opportunity to start a fundraising campaign that would pay for the cost of his trip to the conference.
Hilary DeCesare, chief executive of Everloop, described her tween social network as “Facebook for kids.” Naturally, when a Facebook guy spoke on a panel, DeCesare took advantage of the networking opportunity to start a discussion with the mother of all social networks.
Mark Gartland (a former colleague from my Red Herring days) teamed up with Claudia Ward to create MiniMash. The startup’s aim is to make video creation easy and viral. Somehow I think a video of me is out there on the web.
Julie Ruvolo, chief executive of Solvate and a former VentureBeat writer, talked about her business of matching independent contractors with tasks that people want done. She says getting gigs for short-term projects is emblematic of the modern way of doing work. Solvate automates the task of finding talent — a needle in a haystack — for those who need something done.

There were so many living room TV webification companies at DEMO that the poor stage hand who had to wheel the flat-panel TV out should have just left it there. Here’s the leaders of ViaClix talking about how they solve the problem of presenting users with the choice of a ton of videos from the web.

The desert night descends on the DEMO sign.
DEMO evenings were for networking dinners. Here’s VentureBeat Publisher Andie Rhyins enjoying a “No don’t take my picture” laugh at Morton’s steak house.

Some of the attendees had to let off steam during the karaoke party. This unknown person had to be escorted back to his room.

Tara Sims of SiliconPR did a fine job representing her client InVisage Technologies at the karaoke night event at the Costas Night Club. Here she is belting out Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.” Unfortunately, she came in second place, and was beaten out by the great (Mustaaangg Salllaaayyy) Derrick Mains, chief executive of GreenNurture. Sims was prepared to file an official protest, since Mains was a member of a real band and really belonged on the real American Idol.