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What We Learned By Watching The Crunchies
Last night Techcrunch held their 2nd annual Crunchy awards. The evening was a near mirror image of last year’s event. Sixteen awards were given and big congratulations go out to all of the winners. CBS Interactive’s Josh Lowensohn attended the event and has a good recap of each of the awards handed out in San Francisco.
I kept notes on each of the winners from my office in NYC on a scratchpad. I’d like to share some of my general thoughts about the event.
The first award went to Google Reader for best web application. Accepting the award was Marissa Mayer from Google. In a company that has many thousands of employees and a Google Reader team that probably has more than a dozen employees, did Marissa really need to accept the award? It’s clear from past experiences that Google is a very controlling company when it comes to their public face, but why not let someone actually on the Google Reader team have the spotlight. One of my Twitter followers wondered if she was asked by the Crunchies to accept to make sure a woman accepted at least one award. I don’t buy that – I think it’s just Google’s controlling behavior at work.
During the Crunchies event, there were 3 “quick Q&A” and VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall spoke with Mayer. It immediately became apparent to me and the Twitter audience that the questions were staged (for all of the Q&A bits) because Matt started to joke around (seemingly off the script) about cupcakes and when he switched back, Marissa started to answer before Matt even finished his question. Why does Marissa get such fluff interviews? Back at LeWeb, Marc Canter called the interview fluff and last night’s discussion was fluff as well. I don’t know if Marissa demands easy questions but there are plenty of topics that the people in the audience care about. Techcrunch writer Steve Gillmore has been very vocal lately about FeedBurner – why not ask her about that? There are plenty of other topics as well that the audience and the Ustream viewers care about.
Let’s now move to location… that is, where does your company need to be located to win a Crunchy? Loic LeMeur noted on stage that there was only one award given to an international company and all of the companies in that category were from Europe. LeMeur has a longer post today about the valley vs. non-valley topic with regards to the awards show.
As each winner was announced, I took a look at where the company is located and noted it on my scratch pad. Every single startup company, outside of the international award which went to eBuddy, went to a company in California. In fact, all of the award winners are located in Silicon Valley except GitHub which is located near San Diego. Take a minute and think about that…not one company won from NYC, Chicago, Denver, Boulder, St. Louis, Portland or anywhere in between. Internationally, Techcrunch runs blogs in France, UK and Japan and there was no winners from any of those locations or any other city around the world except one winner from Amsterdam.
Does all of the “great” Web technology only come out of California? Absolutely not. I am going to have a lot more on this topic early next week.
Dennis Howlett made a comment that’s worth repeating. “If they were being honest then the Crunchies would be renamed as the Consumer Crunchies”. In fact you should read his Twitter stream for some good, honest commentary on the overall event. He’s right and when I looked at the nominees last month I was disappointed that the only startups in the running were those who basically get pushed around in the early adopter crowd. Where are all of the (()#@*&^%% companies that are creating real value for their users and have business models? Where are the web utility companies? I could name 100 companies that deserved to win an award last night. We see this behavior on a daily basis from the valley and I will have more on this topic as well next week.
In closing, it’s great that Techcrunch puts on this award show and gives the community a chance to celebrate their combined success. My hope is that for their 2010 show they will consider some of the points above and make some positive changes which will benefit the Web community worldwide.